Drone technology: the humanitarian potential

The use drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), to carry out targeted killings in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen has been one of the most controversial aspects of the ‘global war on terror’. Al Qaeda commanders and operatives have been ‘eliminated’ in remote drone operations that have also caused numerous civilian casualties. Doubts about the supposed efficiency of this technology must be added to others regarding the legality of their use according to international law. Nevertheless, drones seem to be here to stay.

The use of drones is widening in scope alongside technological developments, but their purposes are multiple. They are not always weapons systems; currently drones are a tool to monitor and track illegal drug routes in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and their use is rising in other areas. Two of them are especially relevant in conflict and post-conflict settings: the possible use of drones as a tool in peacebuilding missions and in humanitarian action.

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