The planet is moving into a “second drone age” with uncontrolled proliferation and no standards governing the use of armed drones, a United Nations expert has warned the UN Human Rights Council.

“The mere existence of armed drones does not justify their indiscriminate deployment. However, to date, there are no robust standards governing drones’ development, proliferation, export, or capability for use of force. No transparency. No effective oversight. No accountability.” – Agnès Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

She outlined recommendations to address this issue in the report she presented today at the Human Rights Council.

“Armed drones, whether deployed by State or non-State actors, can nowadays strike deep into national territory, targeting individuals and public infrastructure. While some ‘incidents’ such as the drone strike in January 2020 against Iran’s General Soleimani or that against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities generate strong political reaction, the vast majority of targeted killings by drones are subjected to little public scrutiny at either national or international levels. And yet, drone technologies and drone attacks generate fundamental challenges to international legal standards, the prohibition against arbitrary killings and the lawful limitations on permissible use of force, and the very institutions established to safeguard peace and security.

This is not to suggest that armed drones are mainly, or solely, responsible for a weakening compliance with applicable international law. Deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects such as schools, hospitals and ambulances in Afghanistan, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Yemen and Libya, to name but a few, evidence the tragic disregard of the most essential humanitarian principles. Yet, while investigations, commissions of inquiries, UNGA and UNSC deliberations have led to some condemnation of these breeches of international humanitarian law and the resulting mass violations, by comparison, and despite their significant civilian casualties, the consequences of targeted killings by armed drones have been relatively neglected by states and institutions.

A reasonable argument can be made that to single out drones is misplaced, given that many targeted killings are carried out by conventional means – e.g. Special Operations Forces. Indeed, these also raise serious concerns. The present report thus contains findings applicable to all forms of targeted killings, no matter their method. Nonetheless, understanding the particularities of armed drone technologies is crucial if we are to keep pace with current and expected developments impacting on the protection of the right to life.

Two previous Special Rapporteurs focused on drones’ targeted killings, setting out the applicable legal obligations under three legal regimes. They lamented the lack of clarity among States about their obligations, the absence of accountability and States’ broad and permissive interpretations of the rules. In 2013, then Special Rapporteur Christoff Heyns warned that ‘the expansive use of armed drones by the first States to acquire them, if not challenged, can do structural damage to the cornerstones of international security and set precedents that undermine the protection of life across the globe in the longer term’.

Seven years later, the world has entered what has been called the “second drone age” with now vast array of State and non-State actors deploying ever more advanced drone technologies making their use a major and fast becoming international security issue. For the first time, in January 2020, a State armed drone targeted a high-level official of a foreign state on the territory of a third one – a significant development and an escalation.

It is against this backdrop that the present report seeks to update previous findings. It interrogates the reasons for drones’ proliferation and the legal implications of their promises; questions the legal bases upon which their use is founded and legitimized; and identifies the mechanisms and institutions (or lack thereof) to regulate drones’ use and respond to targeted killings. The report shows that drones are a lightning rod for key questions about protection of the right to life in conflicts, asymmetrical warfare, counter-terrorism operations, and so-called peace situations. With their lot of unlawful deaths and arbitrary killings, they are also revealing of the severe failures of national and international institutions mandated to protect human rights, democracy, peace and security.”

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pkcasimir
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pkcasimir

The UN Human Rights Council is an oxymoron.

Sean
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Sean

Given Idi Amin was on it for several years 🤦‍♂️

Jason Holmes
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Jason Holmes

It took a UN ‘Expert’ to tell us this? wow, give that man a banana, so far ahead of the game!

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

So, deep down, she’s against targeted US / CIA strikes on terrorists by the sound of it?

When that Reaper blew Jihadi John away in a combined US/UK SF operation with pinpoint accuracy avoiding collateral I thought it was wonderful, sorry.

Meirion X
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Meirion X

There some some soft lefties maybe see Jihadists as like hippies, because they look like it!

dan
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dan

UN’s time has come and go. Time to disband it and move on.

Cam
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Cam

But the UN Is involved in so many missions protecting many millions all over the globe! Who would do these jobs otherwise?

Harold
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Harold

Dominic Cummings liked drones. He’s on his way. Good bye to big ticket items as reality finally hits home.

It’s so much better having people like Dominic running the show now. So much better than all those unelected EU people. We can certainly teach ‘Johnny Foreigner’ a thing or two about democracy.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/us-approves-sale-of-105-f-35-jets-to-japan-including-f-35bs-for-carrier/

Whats good for the Goose is good for the gander. Tell me, how much is Japan in debt again?

Steve R
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Steve R

So when will reality hit home for you?

Meirion X
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Meirion X

Most likely when he the ‘Champagne Socialist’ has run out of money to buy Champagne!

Steve R
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Steve R

I can’t see Harold drinking champagne… prosecco socialist, maybe?

Lambrini socialist?

Meirion X
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Meirion X

The reason Steve, I been calling Harold a Champagne Socialist’ was that he resented the money he pays in taxes being spent on the milltary. And said it comes from earnings from property.

Meirion X
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Meirion X

You still haven’t answered my question ,in you last comment!!

Would You want a volunteer care assistant, not medically trained, to take decisions on your medication instead of your Doctor?
Cummings would not be allowed to make decisions on milltary matters, like what kind warships are needed, and the numbers of troops required.

Your best man Corbyn failed to become PM!

Airborne
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Airborne

Bloody hell H, you your extra special boring recently! Come on son, make more of an effort to get back to your usual lack of subject matter comments. I always find you amusing, sad but amusing. Come on son more effort.

Daveyb
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Daveyb

He pulls the pin and rolls in the grenade….

Sean
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Sean

Love seeing bad losers continue to whinge about Cummings. It’s called ‘democracy’. Present a platform and agenda that’s agrees with how the majority of voters think then you win. It really is that easy.

Meirion X
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Meirion X

@Sean
Where have I said Cummings should not be in Government?
Political advisers Need to be accountable to our elected representatives

Sean
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Sean

Hi Merrion, not you, I was referring to Harold.
Cummings has shown himself to be a wizard with regards to tapping the public mood, and appreciating the application of the latest technology to win elections.
But being a political advisor is a different skill set, so we’ll have to wait and see. Boris is loyal but if Cummings fails then Boris will replace him. Cummings long-standing advocacy of a U.K. style DARPA certainly gets my vote, and would be interesting to know if he had input on the OneWeb purchase.

Cam
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Cam

With the amount of drones being acquired In numbers by most nations all our warships should be armed with more anti air missiles, What about Marlet? Most of our warships already have the 30mm gun mounts, marlet Should be fine hitting relatively slow moving drones surely? And they will also work great for swarm boat atacks.

Julian
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Julian

Airburst would make quite a mess of smaller and even medium drones wouldn’t it? With T31 introducing a 40mm logistics chain into the RN maybe we should begin driving 30mm out in favour of 40mm?

Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

You could not fit a 40mm in place of a 30mm in most situations. It won’t fit on a T23 port and stbd. It will be high mag and no good for MCMVs. It also needs a seperate aiming system to work which adds complexity and cost.
A 30mm fall back is always going to be sticking someone in the cab and aiming by hand.

Julian
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Julian

Well, I just learned some stuff today. Thanks Gunbuster.

Sean
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Sean

The 40mm is more a replacement for a Phalanx as a CIWS than the 30mm.

Daveyb
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Daveyb

Martlet has proven it can engage both fast moving speedboats as well as UAVs. It does however, have its pros and cons. For pros it is very accurate and is nigh on unjammable. For cons, it cannot attack more than one target simultaneously. This “could” be a problem against a large swarm attack by UAVs, but it depends on the swarm’s speed. Martlet currently maxes out at a published speed of Mach 1.5 and most drones travel at speeds less than 300kts. This should give the operator plenty of time to engage one target after another at these speeds. It… Read more »

AlexS
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AlexS

More propaganda from “UN”.

I have never seen UN “upset” by combatants waging war in civilian cloths, using weapons from hospitals (even making a military HQ) schools, transporting fighters and weapons in ambulances. That never upsets the “UN”

Andy
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Andy

The UN don’t do propaganda. Have you read their charter?

Sean
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Sean

The fundamental issue with the UN is that any regime can be a member, even the likes of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge had a seat.

Andy
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Andy

That’s the fundamental strength of the UN… The Purposes of the United Nations are: 1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace; 2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for… Read more »

Sean
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Sean

So if it’s so successful how come it’s failed to prevent so many regional wars, civil wars, ethnic cleansing and genocide. Indeed at this moment China, one of its five permanent members of the Security Council is illegally occupying Tibet, flouts international law in the building of islands for military bases, and is committing genocide with regard to the mass sterilisation of Uighurs. What action. Is the UN taking against China?…

I think you mistake the absence of open warfare for peace.

Andy
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Andy

Aren’t those domestic issues? Which China thinks is nobody’s business but it’s own.

Plenty of members of the security council have been accused of those thing too.

I didn’t say the UN was successful but maybe the it has stopped wars that might otherwise have happened.

Sean
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Sean

Invading another country, Tibet, is hardly a domestic issue. Nor is the building of islands in waters that under international treaty belong to other nations.
That other members of the security council have done these too just strengthens my argument that it has failed in its objectives.
The UN has achieved nothing since the Korean War.

Daveyb
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Daveyb

It watched over and failed to prevent the genocide in Bosnia.

Sean
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Sean

And it was a alliance of Western Democracies, aka NATO, that stepped in there.

DaveyB
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DaveyB

It made me sick that we were there and could do nothing to prevent it. Then changed the colour of our hats and now we could.