UN experts warns of possibility of proliferation of use of drones

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A US Air Force RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. Photo: US Department of Defense/James L. Harper Jr.

Two United Nations human rights experts have expressed concern about the potential for illegal use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

The experts reported to the General Assembly on Friday on the use of drones.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions said drones are not inherently illegal and are here to stay.

However, he added, they "do raise considerable challenges that need to be addressed."

"I think in particular the fact that drones make the turnaround time between action on information, intelligence on the ground and the deployment of lethal force almost instantaneous, and this could be done anywhere around the world. Previously, the world community has not really had to that extent such as piece of technology available and now, of course, a number of states are using that and there is a possibility of proliferation.  So these are challenges that need to be faced, but I think one needs to accept that the main focus should be on the legal parameters and the policy parameters within which drones should be used in the future." (32)

Mr. Heyns cautioned against making it easy for states to use lethal force using drones by, among other things, invoking the right to self defence or that there is a global war on terror.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’21

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