The Netherlands

In 2018, the Netherlands purchased four General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drones from the US, which it will receive in 2021. In November 2019, the Dutch parliament demanded the Ministry of Defence to investigate whether the four MQ-9 Reapers should be armed.

The purchase of the first Reapers was planned for 2016 but was postponed due to budgetary considerations. Although the Dutch government officially announced to use the MQ-9 Reaper drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, political parties are divided regarding the procurement and use of armed drones.

It is expected that the Reaper drones will be armed within the near future. In January 2020, State Secretary for Defence Barbara Visser wrote in a letter to parliament that the Ministry of Defence does recognize “the operational benefits of arming the MQ-9 Reaper” and will continue to investigate the possibilities and costs of the armament of the drones, although the armament of the Reapers is “currently not on the agenda.”

Additional developments in the Dutch drone program include conversations held in 2015 between the government and aerospace services company Strat Aero on establishing a UAV Training Center in the Netherlands, which would be the first in Northern Europe.

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In 2015 the Dutch human rights law firm Prakken d’Oliveira took legal action against the Dutch government on behalf of two Somali nomads who became victims of a drone attack when they were hit by a US missile in January 2014. The victims claim that the Dutch government is also responsible given its intelligences services allegedly shared essential metadata that informed the drone strike. Though this case is still ongoing, it underlines the urgent need for the Dutch government to ensure that shared data is not used for unlawful targeting.

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Event Summary: The War of Tomorrow – How are novel military technologies changing modern conflicts?

The rapidly growing use of drones and robots, and data-driven military analysis will likely have profound impacts on future battlefields. At the same time, countries like the Netherlands are increasingly resorting to remote warfare. In an online symposium – hosted on February 26th by peace organization PAX – academics, military experts, civil society representatives and members of the Dutch parliament discussed the implications of these developments for the Dutch armed forces, military interventions, the protection of civilians, and long-term peace and security.

Online symposium – The War of Tomorrow: How are novel military technologies changing modern conflicts?

The rapidly growing use of drones and robots, and data-driven military analysis  will likely have profound impacts on the future of warfare. To better understand the implications of these developments for our armed forces, military interventions, and foreign policy, PAX will host an online symposium with a broad array of experts on Friday, February 26th at 15:00-17:30 CEST.

Podcast “The Good War”

Jet Groenendijk and Isa Zoetbrood, two students from the University of Utrecht, have made a podcast in which they talk about remote warfare. In the first episode, Groenendijk and Zoetbrood discuss the Dutch MQ-9 Reapers that the Netherlands will receive in the summer of 2020. Two experts, Wim Zwijnenburg, Programme Leader Humanitarian Disarmament at PAX, and Lauren Gould, assistent professor…

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