Rethinking the Panorama of Drone Attacks from the Perspective of International Humanitarian Law

Rethinking the Panorama of Drone Attacks from the Perspective of International Humanitarian Law

Azizur Rahman
Department of Law, University of Dhaka

Drone means a pilotless aircraft controlled autonomously or from a remote place.  At present, the use of drones in battlefield has increased significantly raising legal, humanitarian and other concerns. In many parts of the world, the use of drone in armed conflicts has resulted in mentionable casualties to innocent civilian population and civilian object as well. These practical instances urge the nature of drone to be dissected and have rendered it necessary to examine whether the principles and rules developed under International Humanitarian Law with a view to limiting the adverse effects of war can be complied with properly during drone attack. Besides, the question as regards accountability for commission of crimes during drone attack deserves utmost consideration. It is pertinent to note, drones are useful to accomplish certain civilian purposes and under existing instruments of International Humanitarian Law, these are not defined as weapons. Besides, these are considered ideal for ‘3D missions’-actions that are too ‘dull, dirty or dangerous’ for manned aircraft. Thus, arguments can be presented both in favour of and against drone system. The instances of civilian casualties establish the fact that in ensuring protection of rights of innocent civilians, issues pertaining to the periphery of ethics and morality have a vital role to play along with existing legal instruments.

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