EU seeks unity on armed drones

Image: Jessica Dorsey (middle) at European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, 22 March 2017. © European Union 2017

July 21, 2017

The EU has taken the next step toward formulating a common policy among all member states on the use of armed drones. The Human Rights Subcommittee of the European Parliament commissioned a paper stipulating the elements for such a European-wide policy.

The paper, written by PAX expert Jessica Dorsey in her role as associate fellow at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, was published recently on the EU Parliament’s website.

“In a relatively short time, armed drones have become a normal weapon in many military arsenals and this is only set to continue,” says Ms. Dorsey. “But the interpretation of relevant legal frameworks governing their use lags far behind. A common EU legal position would help regulate their use while staying true to the rule of law, a fundamental cornerstone of the EU.”

Transparent and Accountable
‘Towards an EU common position on the use of armed drones’ shows what that framework would look like. It describes what laws the EU member states would be required to adopt with respect to transparency and accountability mechanisms for the use of armed drones or assisting another country with targeting or other information related to the use of armed drones. The legal framework at the national level needs to reflect the EU´s commitment to rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The European Parliament passed a resolution on the use of armed drones in February 2014, and since then has several times indicated the need for a common EU position. The Human Right´s Subcommittee held a workshop on 22 March 2017, at which a first draft of the paper was presented. The published version includes a report on that workshop.

What’s next
The next step toward a common EU position on armed drones lies at the Council of the European Union, made up of government ministers from each member state.  In the meantime, some organisations within the European Forum on Armed Drones will use the report’s recommendations in advocacy efforts at various member states. 

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