European Position on Drones

The European Council of Foreign Relations has published a report calling for a European position on the use of drones.  This piece was posted on the website:

“The drone strike that has just killed at least 17 people in Pakistan is a reminder that a new era of warfare has dawned. The EU’s response to this has been largely passive. But as the technology spreads (including to EU member states) this must change, and new rules for drone warfare drawn up.

A new ECFR policy brief – “Drones and targeted killing: defining a European position” by Anthony Dworkin – argues that the EU should now take a stronger stand on the issue of drone strikes. At the same time, it should undertake an effort to work with the United States to set a new standard for when drone attacks are permissible. The EU’s position should be based on the idea that outside conventional military theatres lethal force should only be used when there is a serious, imminent threat to innocent life.

  • Although President Obama has embraced a similar position as a matter of policy, he interprets it more loosely. But changes in US policy mean there may be a greater chance for transatlantic dialogue on drones.
  • The EU should press him to follow through on his rhetoric and restrict US drone strikes, and explore the idea of self-defence as their legal basis.
  • The EU should encourage greater transparency and accountability over US drones, and work to end the notion of an unbounded war against terrorist groups. Otherwise there is a danger that China, Russia, and others could use the US drone campaign as a precedent to justify targeted strikes against groups they declare to be enemies.

“Attempting to ban drones is a false choice that would also deprive Europeans of a useful technology. But Europe needs to play an active role in clarifying rules and standards for the use of drone attacks. If not, the benchmark for killing alleged enemies of any state using drones will be too low.” Anthony Dworkin”

This article and the accompanying report can be found at:

ICCS Commentary to follow.

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This post was written by lcm263 who has written 17 posts on The Political Effects of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

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