GoJIL Vol. 3, No. 3 (2011)
The Use of Combat Drones in Current Conflicts – A Legal Issue or a Political Problem?
The regulation of the employment of combat drones in current conflicts is a central issue of recent discussions in international law. Contrary to misinterpretations in the media, this article claims that the legal framework regarding today's drone systems is settled. The author first provides an assessment of unmanned combat drones as a new technology from the perspective of international humanitarian law. He then proceeds to the vital point of the legality of targeted killings with remotely operated drones. Further, he discusses the preconditions for applicability of humanitarian law and human rights law to such operations. In conclusion, the author holds the view that the legal evaluation of drone killings depends on the execution of each specific strike. Assuming that targeted killings with drones will generally only be legal under the law of armed conflict, states might be further tempted to label their struggle against terrorism as ‘war'.
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