United Nations Announces Inquiry Into Drone Strikes: Do You Think Drones Should Be Banned?


On Thursday, the United Nations announced an inquiry into the use of unmanned drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and the Palestinian territories. The UN’s Human Rights Council has named Ben Emmerson, UN specialist on counterterrorism and human rights, to lead the investigation, following requests by Pakistan, Russia, China, and other countries.

Over the past year or so, the subject of drone warfare has been much discussed on PolicyMic, with at least 60 articles published on the subject. Many of our most vocal decriers of Obama administration policy regarding the use of drones are also opposed to all administration policies, simply because they are administration policies. Others have more nuanced positions but still oppose using drones.

I have held my figurative tongue throughout the debate upon this issue for a number of reasons, some of which are personal and not to be shared. It is time, however, to break silence and to begin to ask some questions – of myself, of PolicyMic colleagues and of everyone in general who thinks they know something about military tactics and strategy.

So much mis- and disinformation is repeated about drones - their use and authorization, the so-called “kill lists,” the casualty statistics and where and when they strike - that I have discounted about 98% of what is written on this site as falling into those two categories. This link to ProPublica, “Everything We Know About Drone Strikes,” published on January 11, not only summarizes all the pertinent factual information in one place – it also provides a handy glossary of terms and acronyms in use so none of us is confused about the difference between a “signature strike” a “personality strike” and a TAD.

Now, let us begin to ask questions:

1. How do you feel about the United Nations HRC inquiry? Do you see this development as wonderful worldwide validation of your anti-drone position?

2. If you do see UN involvement as validation of your anti-drone position – how do you feel about the fact that the prime movers behind the inquiry are Pakistan, Russia and China? What do you think their motivations are for pushing an inquiry at this time?

3. Are you in any way conflicted about this development? Do you feel that it’s somehow “wrong” for the world body to investigate this issue with the aim of chastising the United States but at the same time feel so strongly about ending the usage of drones that you are willing to support this inquiry?

4. Do you think that Russia and China are – to one degree or another – using this issue to annoy the United States and/or build leverage with Pakistan and/or Syria and/or Iran for geopolitical strategy in the future?

5. Are drones, like bombers, accepted tactical weapons with legitimate military uses?