Despite the long-term and wide-spread recognition of problems with the legality of dronestrikes, drone-using states continue to claim they are legal whatever other opinions may suggest. This research article, written by Alex Holder, Elizabeth Minor, and Michael Mair, explores the legal reasoning done by military personnel to justify drone strikes.
The article takes an in-depth look at how military personnel act with regards to legal frameworks: rules of engagement, military codes, protocols, regulations and agreements, as well as IHL and IHRL Armed drones are more than just technical devices. For a 24-hour US drone patrol an “entire assembly” of up to 200 people are involved, with military lawyers involved at every stage in what represents a “tightening of the operational links between law and warfighting.” The processes and involvement of different stages and actors complicates the research into the legality of a strike. Drone programmes are seemingly set up to avoid political and public accounting. The aim of this paper then is to focus on the issue that after a drone strike.. “the people who have been categorised as ‘enemies’ may subsequently turn out to have been wrongly so categorised carries no implications.”
The authors conclude that states should be more transparent regarding the use of drones by releasing more footage, information, and details on the workings of drone programs. Transparency in this sense would help create public and politcial accountability in the drone programmes, as well as help others in society consider which restrictions on armed drone use might be most effective, and how to achieve these restrictions.
You can also find the full paper in the Journal of the Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.