International Bar Association adopts Resolution on proliferation of armed drone strikes

13.07.17 | |

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (‘IBAHRI’) has adopted a Resolution on armed drone strikes in light of their increased use in warfare.

 

The IBAHRI’s press release summarises the resolution as follows:

 

  • In the Resolution, adopted on 25 May 2017, the IBAHRI expresses concern about the:
  • availability of drones that may spread armed conflict and encourage states to resort to lethal force and violate human rights;
  • lack of clarity and transparency as to the applicable legal framework governing drone strikes;
  • undermining of effective legal oversight and accountability;
  • secrecy surrounding the use of drones leading to the preclusion of appropriate investigations;
  • psychological harm reported to be suffered by those living within the regions in which drones regularly operate; and the lack of required infrastructure and/or access to the judicial system for victims of drone strikes to realise effective remedies.

 

Further, the Resolution states:

  • The use of drones must adhere to the current law governing the use of force: The accepted exceptions to the general prohibition against the threat or use force in Article 2(4) of the Charter of the United Nations are that force may be lawfully used only in cases where consent has been sought and granted from the legitimate government of a territorial state, or in proportionate self-defence, or with the authorisation of the UN Security Council.
  • Whether or not a drone strike occurs in the context of an armed conflict is crucial to assessing its lawfulness: International humanitarian law and international human rights law have different rules on when and how lethal force may be used. The level and type of force inherent in the use of armed drones will rarely, if ever, be lawful under the more protective international human rights law framework outside of armed conflict. It is therefore of utmost importance that the existence of an armed conflict is not lightly assumed. It must be objectively assessed, on the basis of factual circumstances prevailing at the material time.

 

An in depth Background Paper was published at the same time.

 

At the invitation of Dr Phillip Tahmindjis, IBAHRI Director, Graeme Hall contributed research to the Background Paper which formed the basis of the Resolution.

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