A Declaration on Drone Warfare

I was asked recently to offer ideas and recommendations for a statement on drone weapons.  Here is what I came up with. I welcome feedback for refining these ideas:

  • The policy of targeted killing and drone warfare is contrary to ethical principles, a violation of international law, and a counterproductive strategy for preventing terrorism and violent extremism.
  • The UN Charter permits the use of military force (including drones) only if authorized by the Security Council or if a state is acting in self-defense after suffering an armed attack. Neither of these conditions has been met to justify U.S drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.


  • The United States should demilitarize its counter-terrorism strategy and apply conflict prevention and law enforcement approaches rather than military policies. Washington should cooperate with other governments to implement the nonmilitary approaches specified in the UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy: ameliorating conditions conducive to violent extremism, strengthening the rule of law, and upholding human rights.
  • To prevent terrorism, the United States should end its policies of military occupation and armed intervention in other countries, refrain from providing military aid to autocratic and repressive regimes, and support the rights of the Palestinian people and other oppressed populations. The United States should end all CIA paramilitary and targeted killing operations.
  • The United States should support the convening of an international conference under the auspices of the United Nations to develop binding legal standards for the use of drone systems. Any military use of these systems must be strictly in compliance with the principles of international law, as specified in the UN Charter, the laws of armed conflict, and international humanitarian law and human rights law.

2 thoughts on “A Declaration on Drone Warfare

  1. Please expand on your recommendations to address under what circumstances American citizens on American soil can be killed or targeted by drone warfare. Under the Bush Administration, drones have targeted American citizens here in the states, beginning as early as 2004. Thank you.

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