We need a new international accord to control drone proliferation

Conflicts like those in Libya and the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, in which high-tech armed drones help decide the fate of nations, are becoming increasingly common. Equally concerning is the increasing use of drones for targeted killings in purported self-defense, such as the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and others by the United States in Iraq in January. The proliferation and evolution of drone technology puts such killings within the reach of multiple state and non-state actors, who may kill anonymously and with impunity.

The Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR—a 1980s control mechanism intended to prevent the spread of unmanned systems that can deliver weapons of mass destruction—has not stopped the proliferation of armed drones, and the Trump administration’s decision to re-interpret the MTCR has only made things worse. Instead, nation states must work together to establish a new regime for the new drone age, and President-elect Biden should consider supporting such a move. Call it a Drone Technology Control Regime.

As drones spread globally to all nations, or indeed to any non-state actors that want them, the foundational pillars of accountability, transparency, and oversight are needed to strengthen the protection of civilians.

The mere existence of a technology does not justify its indiscriminate and irresponsible deployment and transfer. The expanding technological prowess and the proliferation of drones are a major threat to international peace and security. At a time of increasingly dangerous instability in the international system, the time to act is now.

Read the full article by Agnes Callamard and James Rogers in the Bulletin



Date: December 1st, 2020
Authors: Agnes Callamard (UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions) and James Rogers (Assistant Professor Center for War Studies at University of Southern Denmark)

Share this via: