UN photo by baona

In a statement delivered at the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, 14 civil society organizations from across the world have urged States to actively engage towards establishing clear norms and standards on the development, production, export and use of armed drones.

The escalating drone war in Libya, the targeted killing of Iranian General Soleimani by a US drone, and the rapid increase in drone use in Syria and Yemen have marked more than a decade of an increased use of armed drones that risks undermining international humanitarian and human rights law standards. The recent fighting over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, with its extensive use of armed drones, has been no exception.

The use of remote violence with armed drones may lower the threshold of the use of force, which can jeopardize regional security and contribute to an escalation of violence, often with a devastating impact on civilians. Another concerning development is the rapid proliferation of drone technologies which has made this type of warfare more available to non-state actors.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions has called in her 2020 report for more regular reporting on drone use to relevant UN bodies, and has urged UN Member States to establish a transparent multilateral process for the development of robust standards for the use of drones.

In light of these recommendations, in their statement, members of EFAD and other civil society organizations have urged Member States to actively develop such multilateral discussions, by exploring opportunities for establishing a forum where all aspects of drone development, production, export, and use, in relation to armed conflict and civilian harm, can be addressed. The ever-rapidly developing new advancements in drone technology and proliferation are already outpacing international capacities to constrain the use of this form of warfare. States should therefore act now to protect people and communities, before it is too late. Read the full statement here.

On October 22th at 8:30 – 10 AM EST | 14:30 – 16:00 CEST, PAX and the Stimson Centre will host the webinar ‘’Multilateralism and Armed Drones: Escaping the Gridlock’’. With the participation of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings and delegates from the US and Costa Rica, opportunities towards better regulation on the use and proliferation of armed drones will be discussed. Click here to RSVP.

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