There are several issues raised by the Bin laden killing under international law, the answers to which depend largely on ones perspective of international law in general (including such things as its sources, interpretation, and application in situations like this). Regrettably, this can be frustrating for those accustomed to absolute certainty in their respective domestic legal systems or who otherwise may be uneasy with such a normative system where there are few absolutes and even fewer instances where all observers (including so-called experts or as they are known in international law circles, publicists) agree on either the substance of a given norm or extent that it governs a given situation. In the instant case, and again subject to the limited factual information (as opposed to seemingly ever-changing accounts from the US and Pakistani governments, among others), I would humbly offer the following: 1. With respect to the issue of Pakistans sovereignty being violated by the non-consensual incursion of the US force into Pakistan to conduct the mission, the entire concept of Westphalian sovereignty has been undergoing significant change in the last 50 years. There are myriad reasons for this but many cite two primary reasons being globalization and changing standards reflected in the conduct of states as to the sanctity of a given nations sovereignty that has accelerated significantly since 9/11 and the advent of warfare by non-state groups, that of necessity must be somewhere and thus implicate to one degree or another the sovereign state in which the group is located. Again depending on ones view and which school of thought is preferred over another, the practice in recent years of conducting military operations against such non-state actors even when to do so violates the sovereignty of the nation in which the individual or group is then located can be characterized as unlawful or lawful. For example, Professor Mary Ellen O'Connell, notwithstanding her machinations to find justifications for the mission in her piece in yesterdays Foreign Policy magazine, (The bin Laden aftermath: Abbottabad and international law - by Mary Ellen O'Connell | The AfPak Channel ) represents the more traditional view that, absent consent of the nation whose border is violated, or the presence of certain very narrow exceptions that she notes in her article, a nations borders are sacrosanct. On the other hand, Professor Jordan Paust can be said to represent the opposing school of thought that sees a weakening of the concept of sovereignty in the post 9/11 era that includes the right of one nation to pursue non-state actor enemies into the territory of another nation, subject to certain limits. He has written extensively on this in the context of US drone strikes into Pakistan, the Sudan and elsewhere. (for example, see Paust, Journal of Transnational Law & Policy Spring, 2010, SELF-DEFENSE TARGETINGS OF NON-STATE ACTORS AND PERMISSIBILITY OF U.S. USE OF DRONES IN PAKISTAN). (https://webspace.utexas.edu/rmc2289/LT/Jordan%20Paust%20on%20Drones.pdf ) 2. With respect to the actual shooting of Bin Laden, there are several issues raised, most of which cannot be conclusively resolved without many more facts that I doubt will ever be forthcoming. First there is the question of the nature of the orders given the operators. If they were solely to kill Bin Laden regardless of the circumstances, then I think that would be an unlawful order under applicable provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that applies equally to ALL members of the US military, regardless of specialty or assignment (e.g., even if seconded to the CIA for example, as long as they are still legally members of the US military, they are subject to the UCMJ). As an unlawful order, and I would further argue that if given in such clear and unequivocal terms, it was facially illegal, it would have been the duty of those receiving the order refuse the order and report it to appropriate authorities. The same reporting obligation would obtain for any other US military member having knowledge of it such an order. Such an order would also be tantamount to a no quarter order that is also forbidden under Article 40 of Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and would be considered a grave breach. The prohibition against no quarter has deep roots and was first expressed in treaty form (later incorporated in substance into the 1949 Conventions) in Article 23d of The 1907 Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land. If the orders were rather kill or capture or words to that effect then the focus shifts to the circumstances of the actual killing. Obviously, operators must be afforded reasonable leeway in interpreting the lawfulness of any in extremis killing since such decisions are necessarily made in nano-seconds, are situation-dependent and affected by stress, imperfect sensory information and the like. If, however, Bin Laden had made it reasonably (under all the facts and circumstances) apparent to the SEALS that he had surrendered and thus represented no further threat to them by unequivocal physical actions (hands in the air etc.) and absent any reasonable advance intelligence and corroborating physical circumstances apparent to the shooter(s) that he intended to use an explosive device etc. that could readily be detonated even if in a posture of surrender, then shooting him would have been unlawful and punishable by applicable provisions of the UCMJ. If Bin Laden was considered a combatant, whether he had a weapon in his hand etc. when he was shot is not determinative of the lawfulness of the killing since that is not a requirement in and of itself to allow the killing. Rather it is but one of myriad factors that must be taken into account, and again under very adverse and stressful circumstances, by the operators themselves in determining whether he was at the time he was shot hors de combat, which is the only status that transforms a combatant (armed or not) into a protected person.