Five years ago the suggestion that within a decade drone strikes would be taking place on a regular basis in multiple countries with little notice by the mainstream media or the general public seemed far-fetched to many. Today, with drone strikes being undertaken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Syria, and no doubt Libya again too soon (and not to forget the regular sporadic bursts of Israeli strikes in Gaza) such a prediction looks a lot more likely, if not a certainty. Read more
Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and countering terrorism has issued his final report into the impact of drone strikes on civilians. Briefly, as I have only just seen it, the report looks at recent civilian casualty rates from drone strikes and examines 30 case studies of drone strikes in which there were reports or indications of civilian casualties
Most importantly the report specifically recommends the UK, the US and Israel release more information about these strikes and calls for panel of experts to further investigate the issue. More soon.
Drone Wars UK is today publishing a new briefing focusing on the use of drones by Israel, the only other country besides the US and the UK to have used armed drones.
‘Israel and the Drone Wars: Examining Israel’s production, use and proliferation of UAVs’ scrutinizes Israel’s 40 years of military drone use, the devastating effects of drone operations in Gaza, and Israel’s burgeoning drone exports.
While its drone use is shrouded in secrecy – Israel has never publicly admitted to the use of armed drones – DWUK’s research pieces together the evidence and describes the human cost to Palestinians living in what campaigners have characterized as a ‘test zone’ for drone warfare. Nader Elkhuzundar, for example, a Palestinian from Gaza interviewed by Drone Wars UK, tells of the fear instilled by the constant noise of drones flying overhead. Read more
Negotiations continue between Afghanistan and the US over a bilateral security agreement that would allow US military forces to continue operating within Afghanistan after December 2014 when NATO combat operations are due to end. Read more
It is very rare to get any details of civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan and even rarer to have information about civilian casualties from drone strikes in Afghanistan. Today the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released its mid-year report Afghanistan: Protection of civilians in armed conflict (pdf). The report details a 23% increase in civilian casualties over the same period last year. UNAMA attributes 74% of civilian deaths and injuries to Anti-Government Elements, 9% to Pro-Government Forces, 12% to ground engagements between Pro-Government Forces and Anti-Government Elements, with the remaining 4% unattributed. Read more
Over the past few week there has been increasing attention to the issues raised by the growing use of armed unmanned drones. As protests at factories and bases have taken place, newspapers have begun to editorialize, politicians have formed committees to investigate and legal action is being undertaken.
Amidst these positive moves there are those of course who would dismiss concerns about drone strikes and remote warfare. Earlier this month Reuters published an Op-Ed piece in response to the Stanford & NYU Law Schools report ‘Living Under Drones, which investigated US drone strikes in Pakistan. Read more