Last week, the European Parliament adopted a new resolution on the state of the US-EU relations in which it expressed a clear concern over the US drone killings program. In that same week, the New York Times revealed that the US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) opened a new secret drone base in the north of Niger, where armed drones will be involved in clandestine targeted killings against a number of armed groups active in the Sahel region. Under President Trump, the already limited restrictions that were put in place by the Obama administration are reversed, allowing the CIA to expand their killing program under undisclosed rules.
European civil society organizations and survivors of drone strikes have already highlighted the role of EU States in facilitating the US drone program, either through logistical support, providing bases or through data sharing. Concerns over these drone killings were reflected in the EU resolution, stating that it is ‘”very concerned at the US administration’s reported dismantling of the limited restrictions to the drone programme, which increases the risk of civilian casualties and unlawful killings, as well as the lack of transparency around both the US drone programme and the assistance being provided by some EU Member States.”
EFAD members in Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands have raised the issue of assistance by drawing attention to possible complicity cases, such as the Ramstein base in German and the Sigonella base in Italy, or data sharing through intelligence agencies as was the case in the Netherlands.
The EU resolution also reiterates the importance of providing a clear and legal framework on the use of lethal force under international standards, stating that it:
“Calls on the US and EU Member States to ensure that the use of armed drones complies with their obligations under international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and that robust binding standards to govern the provision of all forms of assistance for lethal drone operations are established.”
Another recent EU resolution from June 2018, with recommendation from the Parliament to the EU Council, outlines similar concerns. The resolution text called for the EU’s Council delegation to condemn the widespread violations of international law through the wrongful use of armed drones and suggested to work to find a solution within a UN framework.
These calls should also be seen in light of the 2014/2567(RSP) resolution on armed drones and the 2017 recommendation made by the EU Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) in the report “Towards an EU common position on the use of armed drones.”
EFAD Members will be attending the UNGA’s First Committee meeting in New York in October to highlight the concerns over the use and impact of armed drones and their rapid proliferation, urging EU member states to raise these concerns in their statements.