Drones Strikes Is Targeted Killing Illegal  Research Paper

Length: 20 pages Sources: 25 Subject: Terrorism Type: Research Paper Paper: #72818751 Related Topics: Wikileaks, Shane, Al Qaeda, Obama
Excerpt from Research Paper :

Drone Strikes

Target drone


International Law and Drone Strikes

Obama Administration

Drone attacks in Pakistan

Drone Strikes in Yemen

Drone Strikes in Somalia

The legality of the drone strikes is a disputed matter. A major challenge to the international law and the international system is the U.S. policy of using drones aerially to carry out target killings. According to some reports U.S. drone strikes have killed almost 4,000 people since 2002 in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries. The Congress of United States of America reviews their policy of drone strikes, which had increased to a great deal under the Obama regime, every month. The main problem of using the drone strikes is that it has not been able to stop terrorism. Instead of stopping it, it has given rise to the terrorist activities. This study is a research based on the topic of drone attacks and the legality of targeted attacks. The study is based on information and research. The study includes graphs and charts which are based on reliable sources.

Targeted Killing

Targeted killing is actually the killing which is intended or intentional killing by agents of government or the government itself, on targeted civilians which in the opinion of the government are "unlawful combatants," and are not in their custody. "Target" is the person who is alleged to have taken some kind of part in terrorism or armed conflict. The concept of target killing is entirely different from the concept of "targeted violence." Target killing has been heavily criticized by the experts and is considered to be the violation of domestic and international laws.

Drone Strikes:

UAVS stands for Unmanned aerial vehicles are also known as drones, are actually aircrafts operated by pilots autonomously from the ground which a follow a pre-programmed mission. There are many different types of drones but they can be classified in two broad categories. The first types of drones are used for the purpose of reconnaissance and the other type is surveillance. The surveillance purpose drones are armed with bombs and missiles. The use of drones has become quite popular recently. There are many advantages of having drones as they are much more useful because they can stay aloft from the ground for a longer duration and are much cheaper than the other military aircrafts. They are controlled by remote controls so there is little danger of flight crew.

The British and U.S. drones are present physically in Afghanistan and Iraq which are controlled through a satellite operated from Creech USAF and Nellis base which is situated outside Las Vegas, Nevada. The ground crew launches the drones and then the operation is handed over to the video operators who have screens which are specially designed in the desert of Nevada. There are three persons who are responsible for the performance of drones. The first is responsible for flying the drone, second person operates and controls with the help of monitors and sensors and the third person acts as an intermediary between the drone personnel and the commanders in the warzone. Armed drones were first introduced in the Balkans War but their use has increased to a great deal in the Iraqi and Afghani War and also in the undeclared war against Pakistan.

Target drone

A target drone is remote controlled and unmanned aerial vehicle which is usually used in crews of anti-aircraft. The simplest form of the target drones is quite similar to the radio controlled aircrafts. The modern target drones use many types of radar, countermeasures and all the systems of the real aircraft. The more advanced forms of target drones have their warheads removed and are large like old anti-ship missiles. The obsolete jets from the past have also been converted into remote controlled drones by making some modifications which are quite expensive.

The U.S. is operating from two separate types of drones. One of them is operated by the U.S. Air Force and the other one is operated by CIA. The U.S. Air force base has increased the number of drones by almost 600% from the past six years. It also plans to increase more in the near future. CIA Director has mentioned that the drones are the most wanted thing these days and have used a phrase "The only game in town" for drones. CIA has been using the drone strikes in Pakistan mostly, to assassinate terrorist leaders. This program was introduced by Bush regime; however it has observed a significant increase in the Obama Administration.


There are many other drones which are in the production and development stage. The UK government began to use drone strikes in 2007 in Afghanistan named "Reapers," which were purchased at the cost of £6m each, purchased from General Atomic. UK also has many types of surveillance drones apart from the armed drones. The most famous of their surveillance drones is the "Watchkeeper." This drone is special because it is jointly manufactured by an Israeli company Ebit and a UK-based company Thales.

Following is the distribution of the aerial machines of the world percentage wise to different countries. It is quite obvious from the pie chart that United States of America has spent the most of all the countries on the drone systems. China is on the second place yet it is far behind the United States of America as their priorities are entirely different from them.

UN has appointed Philip Aston as the Special Reporter on arbitrary, extrajudicial executions, who has mentioned on numerous occasions that the use of drones is as destructive as other forms of "target killing." He has questioned the U.S. On the issue of using drones on many occasions and has demanded explanations however the U.S. has refused to do so. He has also mentioned that the U.S. should publicize the extent of the drone attacks and then review their actions after killing so many civilians from the drone strikes.

Another issue of the increasing drone technology is that the military drone manufacturers are constantly in hunt for the civilians uses of drones to expand their customer base and earn more profits. The convergence of other technologies can make it possible to use the drones for surveillance domestically.


The legality of the drone strikes is a disputed matter. Opinions of the critics are divided on this topic. However there are many ways in which the legality of the drone strikes can be discussed and analyzed. It is important to understand that assassinations and target killings are completely different acts and should not be taken as similar offenses. The use of the term of assassination denotes murders, on the other hand the drone target killings are an act of self-defense therefore it is not a murder but a killing, which is by no means a crime.

Often people call target killing "assassination" in their attempt to preclude on the advantages of the actions. Assassination is mostly defined as a murder, and therefore it is prohibited by any domestic law and international law. The U.S. military personnel might not kill anyone just for their own policies are seen affecting their interests however killings in their own self-defense cannot be classified under assassinations or murders in international affairs and laws. Therefore target killings in someone's self-defense can be only officially decided by the federal government to fall outside the domain of assassination restrictions and laws.

International Law and Drone Strikes

A major challenge to the international law and the international system is the U.S. policy of using drones aerially to carry out target killings. The international law has endured since the 2nd world war and is also a major concern for the United Nations who has been able to have a control over the happenings of the world to a great deal and have been making decisions for the betterment of the world.

UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Christ Heyns has been a strong critique of U.S.'s policy of drone strikes and has mentioned that he considers some of the actions of U.S. To be "war crimes," as some of the activities carried out by CIA have violated basic human rights in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. UN Human Rights Council has condemned the drone strikes and it has become an international agenda after calls from China and Russia to immediately act against the drone strikes. UN is now thinking of making its own investigatory body which will keep an eye on the drone strikes and decide where to employ drone attacks if they are to be used. The representatives of the suffering countries like Pakistan have also appealed to the UN to stop the counterproductive attacks and take legal action against these drone strikes.

Heyns has mentioned in his meetings that the international law has been able to control massive nuclear powers successfully since the Second World War however the use of drones can cause that balance of power to be shifted and…

Sources Used in Documents:


Abraham D. Sofaer (March 26, 2004). "Responses to Terrorism / Targeted killing is a necessary option." The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 16TH August 2012

Ahmad, Jibran (28 October 2011). "Suspected U.S. drone kills 13 Pakistani Taliban." Reuters. Retrieved 16TH August 2012

Bergen, Peter (26 April 2012). "Warrior in Chief." The New York Times. Retrieved 16TH August 2012

Coghlan, Tom, Zahid Hussain, and Jeremy Page (18 February 2009). "Secrecy And Denial As Pakistan Lets CIA Use Airbase To Strike Militants." The Times (London): p. 1. Retrieved 16TH August 2012

Cite this Document:

"Drones Strikes Is Targeted Killing Illegal " (2012, August 19) Retrieved January 23, 2022, from

"Drones Strikes Is Targeted Killing Illegal " 19 August 2012. Web.23 January. 2022. <

"Drones Strikes Is Targeted Killing Illegal ", 19 August 2012, Accessed.23 January. 2022,

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