Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): Do They Pose Legal Challenges?
Hitoshi Nasu and Robert McLaughlin (eds), New Technologies and the Law of Armed Conflict, TMC Asser, Forthcoming
Posted: 22 Jun 2013
Date Written: June 22, 2013
Of all the new technologies constantly being introduced on the battlefield, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have generated significant debate. As much of that debate is couched in terms of legal issues, even where it is actually a policy debate. In general, UAV operations do not introduce new legal issues but do require a careful analysis of existing law.
This chapter covers the legal rules and principles dealing with: can a state respond in national self-defence to the actions of a non-state actor acting independently of any state; can a state use force in the territory of a third state against a non-state actor (what are the geographic limits of a non-international armed conflict?); what is the status of a civilian operator of a UAV in a non-international armed conflict (the status of a civilian operator in an international armed conflict is more settled); and is there is an obligation under the law of armed conflict to positively consider the option of capture prior to attempting to kill?
While the authors believe that there are preferred legal positions to be adopted on these points, it would be misleading to indicate that there are concluded positions that represent ‘the law.’
Keywords: military aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, UAV, drones, air, warfare, law, humanitarian law, armed conflict, IHL, LOAC
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