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‘Drone’ is the common name for an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV. These craft can be used for both reconnaisance and for carrying out attacks, and are increasingly popular due to the fact that, because they are remote controlled and so have no pilot, no lives are lost if they get short down. They are also smaller than manned aircraft, which offers additional stealth advantages over manned craft.
The United States of America first began using armed Predator drones to carry out targeted assassinations within Afghanistan in late 2001. Since then their use has proliferated massively. In 2002 a Predator drone was used to kill as suspected al Qaeda terrorist in Yemen – which marked the first use of a UAV outside of a war zone, a practice which has now become common for the America military. American drones are now routinely used to kill suspected militants in places such as Pakistan and Yemen, despite the fact that the US is not at war with these countries and despite repeated complaints from public and politicians alike in Pakistan. Such attacks are highly controversial and have been criticised for causing a high number of civilian casualties.
Breaking News Stories – Documenting American Drone Attacks:
Legality of US Drone Attacks:
The legality of the use of drones by the United States military is a hotly debated issue. The United Nations has called for an independent investigation into the legality of these attacks, and threatened to take action against the United States if they refuse to cooperate by sharing video footage recorded by the drones themselves during operations. So far, however, the American government has refused to cooperate and no action has been taken by the UN, although they have proceeded to set up an investigation unit to look into the issue.
Opinions on Legality:
- Drone Strikes Threaten 50 Years of International Law (Guardian)
- US Drone Strikes are Justified, Says Legal Adviser (NPR)
- International Law and Drone Strikes (Crooked Timber)
How Are Targets Chosen for Drone Strikes? (Infographic):
Opinions on US Drone Strikes Around the World:
A Growing Trend: Projections of Global Research and Development Spending on Drones:
Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare