The intent behind the State Department’s new international policy for armed drones is admirable in principle but the declaration’s hoped-for real-world effect will fall short for three reasons. First, the combat effects of drones can be achieved through a variety of military means. Second, Remotely Piloted Aircraft (as the Air Force calls them) are tools whose use is guided by policy and strategy; they are not fundamentally unique. Third, critical drone exporting nations like Russia and China are not signatories to the declaration.
The Department of State issued its “Joint Declaration for the Export and Subsequent Use of Armed or Strike-Enabled Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)” on Oct. 5, and it’s been signed by 45 supporting nations. The declaration stipulates that the international community “must take appropriate transparency measures to ensure the responsible export and subsequent use of these systems.” Read more