Reviewing the current debate on drones

Alongside intense international law arguments, a wider debate on the impact of the growing use of armed drones, within particular current conflicts as well as on long-term global peace and security, continues. To mark our sixth birthday we outline here the current state of the debate on some of the key issues.

 

Drones: Is it the technology, the policy, or both?

cockpit
Can the impact of the technology be ignored?

The starting point for many advocates of the use of armed drones is to dismiss any debate about their use by insisting that there is no actual difference between a drone and a conventional military aircraft.  Former drone pilot T. Mark McCurley for example writes “Is there a difference between bombs dropped off a drone or a fighter?” while Dave Blair argues that “the same weapons deployed from Reapers are also launched from Apaches and F-16s.  The idea of ‘drone strikes’ as distinct from ‘air strikes’ is a distraction.” Read more

Scepticism over casualty claims as new data suggests some UK drones may have moved

Kobani air strike
Coalition air strike in Kobani, Syria

New data about UK military operations in Iraq and Syria has been released to Drone Wars UK and Vice News over the past few days following separate Freedom of Information (FoI) requests.

Vice News obtained details of the number of combatants killed or wounded in RAF strikes each month since Oct 2014.  The data shows that just under 1,000 combatants had been killed with almost 100 wounded.  While the MoD are extremely careful to say they cannot Read more

The dirty consequences of our clean wars

Air strike on Iraq

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

UN Special Rapporteur releases final report on drone strikes

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click to download report

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.

Israel and the Drone Wars – New Briefing from Drone Wars UK

Click to download
Click image to download

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

‘Drones Fly, Children Die’ – Today, Tomorrow, Forever?

Reaper-2The present and future use of armed drones in Afghanistan came under the spotlight this week, with details of one drone strike in which a 2 year-old child was killed being revealed.

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