The combat drone: an extension of the human body : a moral and legal assessment of the use of combat drones in contemporary armed conflict

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Schellings, Edith H. A.
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The advent of drone strikes has raised serious concerns about their consequences for the protection of civilians under international human rights law. In this thesis it is examined how combat drones in contemporary armed conflict – targeted killings and asymmetric war – can be morally and legally assessed. This research approaches the drone as a medium, rather than an autonomous robot, and compares just war theory with the minimal applicable legal standard of protection, the law of non-international armed conflict. It is argued that the legality and morality of drones for targeted killings in the war against terrorism depends upon compliance with ius in bello. It is asserted that combat drones require a stricter application of ius in bello because 1.) to neglect their full capability for accuracy violates customary precaution requirements, 2.) a permissive application of ius in bello endangers civilians due to the proximity of contemporary battlefields to civilian areas, and 3.) the its risk-free nature of the drone inspires abuse of the already weak UN Charter. It is concluded that specific IHL regulations on the use of combat drones would strengthen ius in bello as a last guarantee for the protection of those not participating in war.
Second semester University: University of Vilnius.
drone warfare, international humanitarian law, just war, targeted killings