The Arms Trade Treaty and Drones

The Stimson Center has conducted an analysis of how drones relate to various multilateral regulatory regimes. Based on these findings, they have published a report offering a particular focus on the International Arms Trade Treaty, examining the ways in which it regulates the transfers and use of drones.

The study finds that differing standards guiding drone transfers from different regimes, such as the ATT or the Joint Declaration, can lead to confusion for both drone-exporting and importing States. To harmonize these rules and avoid confusion, the Stimson Center provides the following recommendations:

  • Develop an inventory of best practices and lessons learned with regard to other control mechanisms that apply to drones.
  • Consider whether more procedures and processes are necessary to improve the control, regulation, and standards for drone proliferation and use, or whether existing tools already address drones.
  • Consider what characteristics of drones make them particularly unique for pursuing standards and norms to guide their transfer and use, and whether commercial systems should also fall under relevant regulations due to the ease at which these can be amended.
  • Consider whether amending preexisting tools might help cover gaps in export controls, and ways in which these controls over drone technologies can be made sustainable as they continue to evolve.

The full report was presented during a side-event at the Arms Trade Treaty conference in Tokyo in 2018. It can be found at the Stimson Center or by clicking ‘Access Resource‘ to the right.


Date: 23/Aug/2018
Author: Stimson Center

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