Reframing the drone debate

John Hardy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


America's use of Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPV) to target terrorist and insurgent groups around the world has caused enormous controversy in recent years. Many commentators have criticised the 'drone' platform for being illegal, unethical or unfair. This paper argues that most of the debate is focused on issues which are not unique to drones and lacks specificity about the contexts and limits of debate. It presents three arguments about the use of RPVs to establish a common understanding which can inform further debate. The first is that RPVs are used in a variety of ways and by a variety of actors. Many commentators conflate these actors and uses, which distorts the debate. The second is that ethical arguments about RPVs need to be context-based, not platform-based, to be persuasive. Arguments about proportionality and risk must be context-based to have validity. The third is that RPVs do not provide unique capabilities and many arguments about their use as standoff weapons have already been settled. This paper does not advocate the use of drones, it seeks to reframe the issue to ensure that debate is conducted on shared concepts and assumptions about drones and their use.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Sixth Oceanic Conference on International Studies
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherUniversity of Melbourne
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventOceanic Conference on International Studies (6th : 2014) - Melbourne
Duration: 9 Jul 201411 Jul 2014


ConferenceOceanic Conference on International Studies (6th : 2014)

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