Just lately, sad news of new drone victims in northern Pakistan aroused fresh concerns, prompting UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson to reiterate calls on Washington to assist in probing the lethal drone attacks. Pakistan, Russia and China welcomed the initiative.
The Pentagon has used drones on 300 occasions over the past seven years. Under President Obama, the number of drone strikes has increased five-fold as compared to similar statistics from George W. Bush’s eight-year presidency. Unmanned aircraft technologies make it possible to reach the hitherto unattainable targets, but more often than not, this is done at the expense of ordinary people’s lives.
True, modern devices cannot always detect whether a person is a terrorist or a civilian, particularly from a distance, but this by no means justifies orders to kill both the bad and the good, leaving the latter to the mercy of fate, Denis Fedutinov, editor-in-chief of the UAV.ru Internet portal, told the Voice of Russia:
"Opponents of the use of drones have repeatedly noted that their efficiency has a reverse side, that they often inflict casualties on civilians. Anyway, the human factor is invariably present in any decision to shoot or not to shoot, whether it’s made by a pilot in the cockpit or a remote operator. But neither a pilot nor an operator can be 100% sure that a group of people spotted on the ground are real terrorists or only look like terrorists."
Alexander Khramchikhin, a senior researcher at the Institute for Political and Military Analysis in Moscow, believes that though investigations into the killing of civilians by drones are absolutely necessary, one should hardly expect them to lead to a ban on the combat use of drones:
"They are made for more selective strikes than manned aircraft are capable of. It’s a weapon of a higher accuracy, a new promising class of weapons that are being actively developed all over the world. I cannot see how they could be restricted as these are not chemical or biological weapons which are absolutely barbaric."
Yet, it’s possible to bring drones under the military and dual-purpose technology regulations. Most experts agree that the use of unmanned aircraft as a weapon should be put into compliance with the international humanitarian law.