1st Edition

Legitimacy and Drones Investigating the Legality, Morality and Efficacy of UCAVs

By Steven J. Barela Copyright 2015
    432 Pages
    by Routledge

    432 Pages
    by Routledge

    Unmanned combat air vehicles, or in common parlance 'drones', have become a prominent instrument in US efforts to counter an objective (and subjective) cross-border terrorist threat with lethal force. As a result, critical questions abound on the legitimacy of their use. In a series of multidisciplinary essays by scholars with an extensive knowledge of international norms, this book explores the question of legitimacy through the conceptual lenses of legality, morality and efficacy, it then closes with the consideration of a policy proposal aimed at incorporating all three indispensable elements.

    The importance of this inquiry cannot be overstated. Non-state actors fully understand that attacking the much more powerful state requires moving the conflict away from the traditional battlefield where they are at an enormous disadvantage. Those engaging in terrorism seek to goad the ruling government into an overreaction, or abuse of power, to trigger a destabilization via an erosion of its legitimacy. Thus defending the target of legitimacy”in this case, insuring the use of deadly force is constrained by valid limiting principles”represents an essential strategic interest.

    This book seeks to come to grips with the new reality of drone warfare by exploring if it can be used to preserve, rather than eat away at, legitimacy. After an extensive analysis of the three key parameters in twelve chapters, the practical proposition of establishing a 'Drone Court' is put forward and examined as a way of pursuing the goal of integrating these essential components to defend the citizenry and the legitimacy of the government at the same time.

    Introduction Legitimacy as a Target; I: Through the Lens of Legality—Formal Validity; 1: Jus ad Bellum: Crossing Borders to Wage War against Individuals; 2: Who Can Be Killed?: Legal Targets in Non-International Armed Conflicts; 3: Boundaries of the Battlefield: The Geographical Scope of the Laws of War; 4: Lethal Force and Drones: The Human Rights Question; II: Through the Lens of Morality—Axiological Validity; 5: Old Ideas in New Skins: The Sixteenth Century Debate on Artillery; 6: The Question of “Imminence”: A Historical View on Anticipatory Attacks; 7: Correcting the Record: Civilians, Proportionality, and the Jus ad Vim; 8: From Just War to Clean War: The Impact of Modern Technology on Military Ethics; III: Through the Lens of Efficacy—Empirical Validity; 9: Data on Leadership Targeting and Potential Impacts for Communal Support; 10: Tactical Efficacy: “Notorious” UCAVs and Lawfare; 11: Strategic Efficacy: The Opinion of Security and a Dearth of Data; 12: Systemic Efficacy: “Potentially Shattering Consequences for International Law”; IV: Creating a Drone Court—Integration via a Policy Proposal; 13: Establishment of a Drone Court: A Necessary Restraint on Executive Power; 14: Can UCAVs be Reconciled with Liberal Governance?: The Substantive Law of a Drone Court; Conclusion: Defending Legitimacy


    Steven J. Barela is Assistant Professor at the University of Geneva in the Global Studies Institute and is a member of the Law Faculty. He is trilingual and holds two M.A. degrees and an LL.M., along with a Ph.D. in law. In order to gain these competencies, he studied in the U.S., Spain, France, México, and Switzerland.

    ’Targeted killing by remote-control with unmanned drones may be the future face of war. Drones reduce the cost of using force, and tempt states to resort to force more readily. Legitimacy and Drones brings together a multinational group of scholars to ask all the right questions - when are drones lawful, ethical, and effective, and what limits must be imposed on their use. An invaluable collection on one of the most pressing issues of our time.’ -- David Cole, Georgetown University Law Center, USA

    ’This timely, rich and occasionally provocative volume will help set the parameters of debate and legal reflection on the vital questions posed by the use of drones, not least the fundamental relationship between legality, morality and legitimacy.’ -- Philippe Sands QC, University College London, UK