UN: Amnesty urges international action on armed drones

Today Amnesty International launches a new briefing at the UN General Assembly, setting out measures to bring the use and transfer of armed drones in line with international human rights and humanitarian law.

The briefing, Key principles on the use and transfer of armed drones, has been developed in response to the rapid proliferation of armed drones, and their use in extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings around the world.

“The past few years have seen an alarming growth in the use of armed drones by states including the USA and the UK, yet the circumstances in which they are deployed remain shrouded in secrecy,” said Rasha Abdul Rahim, Arms Control Campaigner at Amnesty International.

“What we do know is that their use has created a situation in which the whole world can be treated as a battlefield, and virtually anyone can count as collateral damage. Armed drones have been used to carry out unlawful killings with minimal oversight and accountability, and with devastating consequences for civilians in countries like Yemen and Afghanistan.

“We are calling on all states to bring their use of armed drones in line with international human rights and humanitarian law – unlawful use must not become the norm.”

The principles outlined in Amnesty International’s briefing provide a basis on which UN member states can develop binding policies that will ensure accountability, protect the right to life and prevent future violations and abuses.

Amnesty International is calling on all UN member states to:

  • Ensure that their use of armed drones complies with international law, including international human rights law
  • Publicly disclose the legal and policy standards and criteria they apply to the use of armed drones
  • Ensure effective investigations into all cases where there are reasonable grounds to believe that drone strikes have resulted in unlawful killings and/or any civilian casualties
  • Establish rigorous controls on transfers of armed drones, and on assistance to operations of other states using armed drones
  • Enable meaningful oversight and remedies