The Trump administration announced on Friday (24 July) that it will breach the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) by unilaterally re-interpreting it in order to export armed drones. The US has tried without success over the past four years to persuade other signatories of the agreement including the UK, Canada, France and Germany to make changes to allow unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS) to be exempt from the 1987 agreement. However, much to their annoyance, other countries have stood firm.
In essence, the MTCR, regulates missile, rockets and similar technology including drones that can travel at least 300km into two categories; Category I are those able to travel that distance and deliver a payload of 500-kilogram; Category II are those able to travel the distance but not carry a 500 kg payload. Signatories agree a ‘strong presumption of denial’ of exporting Category I systems. Read more →
This latest update details new operators and other significant developments around the proliferation of armed drones. For our complete list of states operating, or close to operating, armed drones see Who Has Armed Drones?
Over the last six months, Libya has continued to be the focus for the use of armed drones. France has increased its activity in the Sahel, and several Asian nations, plus Russia, edge closer to operating armed drones. Turkey and Iran also continue to promote their indigenous developments, and the US appears to have decided to unilaterally reinterpret the MTCR guidelines to allow it to increase its export of armed drones.
Meanwhile, UN Special Rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, has urged action on drone proliferation during her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council, arguing of the need for the international community to “undertake effective measures to control their proliferation through export and multilateral arms control regimes and/or under international treaties” in order to tackle effectively the many challenges posed by armed drones, particularly for targeted killings. Read more →
It’s been a year since we published Drone Wars: The Next Generation, which gave our assessment of who is operating armed drones. This update adds four new States to those with the ability to operate large MALE or medium sized armed drones, as well as an update on significant exports, use, new models and proliferation controls over the last year. Read more →
Work is now being undertaken by a group of states led by the US to draft more detailed politically binding international standards, building on the declaration. In this context, a group of civil society organisations have set out in an open statement, reproduced below, a range of concerns about the limitations of this initiative – given the harm caused by and risks around drone technology – and made a set of recommendations for the process.Read more →