Drone warfare is an upcoming war strategy that has been debated on the international stage, due to its controversial nature. the majority of nation-states that debate this are either idealist or realist. This can be quite problematic as an idealist nation-state believes that drones violate international law and that the international community will enforce these laws, whiles a realist nation state believes that due to the vague nature of each law, drones do not technically violate international law. The vagueness of international law is a contributing factor, as nation states as the united states of America believe that they can exploit this and can therefore use drone warfare on the battle field. The counter argument to this comes from the idealist nation-states that think on the issue more morally and believe that the international community will enforce the laws that are being broken. However, this is a flawed perspective as drone warfare can be used in combat due to laws such as jus ad bellum allows for self defense to be utilised. Drones should be used in all combat scenarios as they do not violate international law, and are ethnically legal to use in combat.
The Jus Ad Bellum law is a law that is used to determin when force may be initiated. Under the UN charter, it states agree to “settle their international disputes in a peaceful manner” and “refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against territorial integrity” otherwise “political independence of any state.” This is generally viewed as a comprehensive prohibition on the use of force by one state inside the borders of another sovereign state. Chapter seven of the UN charter outlines just two exceptions to this exclusion. first, if he security council identifies “any threat to the peace, breach of peace, or act of aggression,” it may “take action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.”1 For practical purposes, this means that the security council can pass a resolution authorizing one or more-member states to use force to carry out mandates. The second exception relates to self defense. In article 51 the charter says, “nothing in the present charter shall impair the inherit right of individual or collective self defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the united nations. Until the security council has take measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”
It is difficult to understand drone strikes under these rules. Clearly, the security council had not expressly authorized the use of force by the United States in Pakistan, yemen, or Somalia. The Council has, however, expressly recognized that terror attacks can trigger a right to use force in self-defense, and the council implicitly gave its approval to the November 2001 U.S military intervention in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan. In security council resolution 1369, passed one day after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the council stated that “such acts, like any act or international terrorism,” create “a threat to international peace and security”2 and can there for authorize the use of self defense by any necessary means. The vagueness of this law does not define what is “excessive in international law. It is than assumed that the use of drone warfare under this law can be considered “necessary.”
The right to self defense in international law, presents many difficulties for the idealist point of view when combating drone warfare due to its vagueness. The right to self defense seems as an open -ended invitation for states to engage in the use of force against suspected terrorists. But if it is open-ended renders useless, the UN charters provison that the right to use force in self-defence lasts “until the security council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security”3 this is an important implied limitation on the right to use force as the charter language clearly anticipates the use of force in self-defence will be temporary, and will only be used in emergency measures. However, once the emergency is over the charter seems to imply that peace and security has been restored. It can therefore be implied that drone warfare can be utilised until peace and security has been restored. Therefore, the united states of America can then justify their drone warfare as it is for the peace and security of there nation. They can also therefore state that once the terror attacks stop happening or the terror organizations are rendered useless, they can use their drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan as it is a security protocol for their nation state.
The opposing argument is that the entrance of drones in Pakistan is a violation of the nations sovereignty. However, this is false as the United states have stated that they will only use force on territory of other sovereign states if that sate either consents or is “unwilling or unable to suppress the threat posed by the individual target.” Although this seems reasonable, the argument is circular, since the United States appointed it self of whether a state is “unwilling or unable”4 thus, why the United states use this as a justifiable way to enter Pakistan. By using its own flexible definition of “imminent threat” they can decide that an individual in, Pakistan poses a threat to the United States and requires killing, sovereignty is not an issue. Either Pakistan will consent to a U.S drone strike or will not consent. And if Pakistan does not consent, and doesn’t agree with The United States assessment -then Pakistan can be determined as either “unwilling or unable to suppress the threat posed by the individual being targeted.” This is important in international law as the United states is the Military superpower of the world and as a realist nation can theoretically do anything that protects their nation state. As the international law can’t be enforced and can there fore allow the United States of America to utilise drone warfare. However, whether drone warfare is a morally okay method of killing is another topic on its own.
Human Rights laws are designed to be applied at all times, including situations of armed conflict.5 all though these laws are legally disputable, some nation states reject this view, presumably as it poses a genuine threat to their military operations. These concerns are unjustified, as they disregard the wide margins provided by human rights treaties. Under the European convention, the right to life is protected by a prohibition of “international deprivations of life.”6 The European convention permits derogations from the ban of intentional killing, but only within the “lawful acts of war.” The question as to whether the use of drones and other unmanned as a means of warfare violates the human right to life, and must be determined by reference to the les specilis of international law.7 This law states that whenever nation states resort to force outside conduct of hostilities, for example a measure of crowd control of a criminal conflict. while humanitarian law continues to apply during an armed conflict, the specifics of “use of force” allow for a considerable amount of leeway. And can there for allow for the use of drones to target killings.
These laws that justify drone warfare does not mean that drone warfare is morally acceptable in the international community. The international human rights law is vague; however, this will be most likely be altered in the future in order to better regulate the use of drones in warfare. As realist nation states are the more abundant perpetrators of utilising drones on the battlefield. The international community will recognize this an strive to better reinforce international laws. However, as a realist perspective in the moment of the chaos of international law and drone warfare it is justifiable to use drones in order to combat terrorists. These drones are becoming more and more advanced it can lower the amount of civilian deaths on both sides of the war. further more drones are less expensive to manufacture and maintain compare to a soldier in Afghanistan. This will better the economy and produce jobs for the perpetrating nation-state, ultimately leading to why Drone warfare should be utilised on the fight against terror.
To conclude drones should be used in conflicts as they are legally acceptable in international law due to the general vagueness of international law. Thus, illustrating why drones are technically legal in international law as they utilise the jus ad bellum law, the right to self defense, and the human rights law. Further more the general context to drone warfare is morally okay as they are primarily used to hunt and kill perpetrators of terrorism. Thus, illustrating the extent to what drone warfare should be utilised.
1 Benjamin, Medea. Drone warfare: Killing by remote control. Verso Books, 2013.
2Vogel, Ryan J. “Drone warfare and the law of armed conflict.” Denv. J. Int’l L. & Pol’y 39 (2010): 101.
3 Shaw, Ronald, Ian Graham, and Majed Akhter, “The unbearable humanness of drone warfare in FATA, Pakistan,” Antipode 44, no. 4 (2012): 1490-1509,
4Shaw, Ian GR, “Predator empire: The geopolitics of US drone warfare,” Geopolitics 18, no. 3 (2013): 536-559,.
5 Howorth, Jolyon, “SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY IN THE EUROPEAN UNION,” politique étrangère 50 (2008): 1,
6 Holmqvist, Caroline, “Undoing war: War ontologies and the materiality of drone warfare,” Millennium 41, no. 3 (2013): 535-552.
7 Kaag, John, and Sarah Kreps, Drone warfare, John Wiley & Sons, 2014.