The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drones (APPG) has released its findings after a two year-long inquiry into the UK’s drone program. It found that the UK’s drone program is causing a myriad of issues which includes amongst others:
- The UK’s assistance to partners, by facilitating or assisting in lethal strikes, is taking place without informing, or authorisation from, the Parliament. Every request for information on this topic “is categorally dismissed”, raising ‘”serious questions about the legality, efficiency and
strategic coherence of UK drone use.”
- The US’s drone programme, widely seen to be inviolation of international law, is supported by the UK through the sharing of intelligence embedded personnel, and the provision of bases, making the UK possible complicit in illegal conduct.
- To carry out its drone programme, the UK has adopted the US’ dangerous intrepretation of the right to self-defence. This intrepretation is potentially legally incorrect, has helped remove restrictions on the unilateral use of force by states, and is contributing to undermining the international-rule based order.
- The UK’s overly broad interpretation of ‘combatant’ might contribute to the killing of innocent civilians, violating the principle of distinction and International Humanitarian Law.
- The UK needs to provide clarification on the legal frameworks surrounding the use of armed drones, at is currently unclear whether it has ‘adopted the controversial US position that drone strikes may be carried out against members of armed groups regardless of where those individuals happen to be
Together, these issues not only put innocent civilians harms way, but also open up pathways which may lead to the prosecution of UK personnel for violation of international law. To combat these issues, the APPG Report also provides recommendations, which include inter alia more transparency, oversight, accountability, and the creation of a global legal framework for the use of drones and other robotic technologies.