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28 Jun, 2014

Report: U.S. drone attacks may lead to perpetual war

[JURIST], University of Pittsburgh Law School, June 27, 2014 – The use of lethal Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones poses a risk of putting the US on a “slippery slope” to perpetual war, according to a report published Thursday by the Stimson Center.

From a one-year extensive study, the report offers eight recommendations for overhauling UAV strategy including: executing a cost-benefit analysis for the use of drones, improving oversight, accountability and transparency, developing forward-looking international norms relating to the use of lethal force in nontraditional settings and devising sound UAV export control and research and development policies.

The report urges the Obama administration to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the use of drones and to give a public accounting of both militants and civilians killed in drone strikes. Additionally the report warns the use of drones may set a dangerous precedent for future conflicts and military action, which other countries will follow. The Stimson Center, a non-profit and non-partisan think tank whose mission is to find pragmatic solutions to global security challenges, is composed of several former senior Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and military officials.

The US has executed drone attacks in the Middle East to combat terrorism, but drone strikes have also resulted in the death of a number of civilians and placed the US under heavy scrutiny for their deployment and use as a military weapon.

Earlier this month the Islamabad High Court  ordered the arrest of former CIA official Jonathan Banks for his involvement in a 2009 drone strike that killed civilians. Kareem Khan, whose brother and son were killed in the drone strike in Waziristan, petitioned the court [Al Jazeera report] to charge Banks with murder. Banks left Pakistan in 2010 after his identity was revealed and it is unlikely he will return to Pakistan to face charges.

In March the UN General Assembly (UNGA) called upon nations to ensure military drones are used in accordance with international law, after a joint resolution was presented by Switzerland and Pakistan. In October two UN rights experts submitted reports to the UNGA, calling for increased accountability and transparency in the use of drone strikes. Also that month a UN report was released which alleged the US is under-reporting the number of civilian deaths resulting from anti-terrorism drone strikes.