Radio Netherlands Worldwide

SSO Login

More login possibilities:

Close
  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
Home
Wednesday 30 July  
A European combat drone prototype lands at a military airport in Istres, France
Map
New York, United States of America
New York, United States of America

'Drone': a dirty word in UN lexicon

Published on : 11 February 2013 - 6:00am | By RNW Africa Desk (Photo: AFP/Dassault Aviation/R. Michelin)
More about:

The ‘drone’, one of the eminently controversial lethal weapons deployed by the United States in its war against terrorism, is a dirty word in the UN lexicon.

By Thalif Deen as originally published by IPS

So when Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous was asked about UN plans to use drones in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he demurred. 

“I would not use the word drones,” he told reporters Wednesday, opting for a military euphemism: “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs).

Ladsous said the United Nations plans to use “unarmed UAVs” only for surveillance purposes – but with the express permission of the government of DRC and neighbouring countries.

“We will see how this experiment works,” he said, adding that the UN will be “open” to sharing whatever intelligence it gathers with regional bodies in Africa, besides UN force commanders on the ground.

The “green light” for the use of unarmed drones in DRC – a country battling a violent insurgency – was given by the 15-member Security Council last November, and is aimed at monitoring the movement of armed groups by the 17,500-strong UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in DRC (MONUSCO).

But some UN diplomats fear that UN drones may eventually be armed, if and when the conflict in DRC takes a turn for the worse.

Global use of drones
The drones used by the United States are fully armed and have resulted in the killings of both suspected terrorists and civilians in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.

According to published reports, more than 40 countries either deploy or manufacture drones. Larry Dickerson, defence systems analyst at Forecast International, a US defence marketing research firm, told IPS that besides the US, there is a very long list of countries manufacturing these UAVs.

These countries include the UK, Israel, France, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Canada, Greece, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Russia, China, South Korea, Austria, India, South Africa, Japan and Singapore.
Ben Emmerson, a British lawyer and UN special rapporteur for human rights and counterterrorism, is in the process of preparing an investigative report on the use of drones.

He is focusing on 25 drone strikes, specifically in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and the Palestinian territories (by Israeli drones), where these attacks have reportedly resulted in civilian deaths.
The report is expected to be presented to the General Assembly next October or November.

Diplomatic concern
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has already expressed “concern” on the use of armed drones for targeted killings, “as it raises questions about compliance with the fundamental principle of distinction between combatants and non-combatants.”

Associate UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters last month that drone attacks have also reportedly caused “substantial casualties, raising questions about the ability to ensure full compliance with the principle of proportionality”.

He said the secretary-general has asked relevant member states to be transparent about the circumstances in which drones are used, and the means by which they ensure that attacks involving drones comply with international law.

According to Amnesty International, there have been more than 300 drone strikes in Pakistan alone over the last few years, which have killed both civilians as well as suspected militants.

US policy
Responding to a report that the administration of President Barack Obama was finalizing guidelines for “targeted killings” by drones, Susan Lee, Amnesty’s Americas programme director, said bluntly: “There already exists a rulebook for these issues: it is called international law.”

Any policy on so-called targeted killings by the US government, she said, should not only be fully disclosed, but must comply with international law.

To date, the justifications publicly offered by senior Obama administration officials have shown only that US government policy appears to permit extrajudicial executions in violation of international law, Lee added.

Asked how far behind are China and Russia in deploying drones in conflict situations, Dickerson told IPS that both countries are increasing their UAV inventories, “but remain far behind the United States in terms of numbers fielded and the sophistication of these systems.”

“Neither have the battlefield experience in the operation of UAVs that the US military gained over the last 10 years,” he said.

Dickerson also said that the US has the largest market share and produces more UAVs than any other country in the world.

He said the worldwide market for UAVs is worth a staggering 70.9 billion dollars over the next 10 years: 39.2 billion dollars related to the production of these systems; 28.7 billion dollars for research and development spending; and around 3.0 billion dollars for UAV services contracts. 

Most popular news in this dossier

Katanga appears on a monitor in the ICC press room on 7 March 2014

What do Ituri residents say about the Katanga verdict?

Many young Ituri residents welcomed the International Criminal Court’s sentence against Congolese...
Mista Poa, a singer from North Kivu, DRC

My Song: A song for a new generation in the DRC

Mista Poa has seen a lot of pain and sorrow growing up in eastern Congo. Hailing from the heart of North Kivu...
Katanga is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity

Eight things you need to know about the Katanga case at the ICC

This Friday, the International Criminal Court is due to deliver a verdict in its case against Congolese...
(Fully cartoon in body of article)

Want amnesty in the DRC? Get paper-pushing

A law on amnesty was recently put in place in the Demorcratic Republic of Congo. Its enactment means a...
DRC President Joseph Kabila in 2012

"Third term for DRC President Kabila will wreak social havoc"

Proposals to review the Democratic Republic of Congo’s constitution to permit President Joseph Kabila...

Discussion

Post new comment

Please be reminded all comments must be in English, short and to the point - guideline 250 words. Abusive and inappropriate comments will be removed.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options