Procedure : 2014/2567(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B7-0202/2014

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Debates :

Votes :

PV 27/02/2014 - 10.9
CRE 27/02/2014 - 10.9
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0201/2014

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the use of armed drones (2014/2567(RSP))

Barbara Lochbihler, Tarja Cronberg, Jean Lambert, Rui Tavares, Reinhard Bütikofer, Judith Sargentini, Ulrike Lunacek, Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, Raül Romeva i Rueda, Iñaki Irazabalbeitia Fernández on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

European Parliament resolution on the use of armed drones (2014/2567(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to the reports on the use of armed drones by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions of 28 May 2010 and 13 September 2013, and by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism of 18 September 2013,

–       having regard to the report by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, of 13 September 2013,

–       having regard to the statement made by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 13 August 2013 on the use of armed drones,

–       having regard to the hearing of 25 April 2013 on the human rights implications of the use of drones, organised by Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights jointly with its Subcommittee on Security and Defence,

–       having regard to its study of 3 May 2013 on the ‘Human rights implications of the usage of drones and unmanned robots in warfare’,

–       having regard to the Council conclusions of 19 and 20 December 2013 on preparations for a programme of next-generation European Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in the 2020-2025 timeframe,

–       having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas the reliance on the use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (hereinafter drones) in extraterritorial lethal operations has steeply increased over the past decade; whereas countries where drone strikes have been documented include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Palestine (Gaza); whereas the US, the UK, Israel and Turkey are reported to have carried out drone strikes; whereas the number of states with the capacity to use drones is likely to increase significantly in the near future;

B.     whereas the above-mentioned drone strikes have been carried out in a largely opaque and unaccountable manner;

C.     whereas thousands of civilians have reportedly been killed or seriously injured by drone strikes; whereas these figures are difficult to estimate, owing to the lack of transparency and the obstacles in the way of effective investigation;

D.     whereas support installations at US bases in Member States, e.g. in Germany, are reported to have been instrumental for certain targeted killing operations in which people have been killed;

E.     whereas drone strike policies have been documented as causing considerable harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians in the countries concerned, including deep anxiety and psychological trauma, disruption of economic and social activities and reduced access to education among affected communities;

F.     whereas Article 51(2) of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, states that ‘acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited’;

G.     whereas the proliferation of armed-drone technology, together with the increasingly asymmetrical nature of modern conflicts, poses unprecedented challenges under international law; whereas leading UN experts have denounced an accountability and transparency vacuum;

H.     whereas international human rights law prohibits arbitrary killings, including in a situation of armed conflict; whereas international humanitarian law does not permit the targeted killing of persons who are located in non-belligerent states;

I.      whereas in armed conflict when civilians have been killed by drone strikes, states are under the obligation to conduct a prompt, independent and impartial fact-finding inquiry and to provide a detailed public explanation and access to redress;

J.      whereas drone strikes by a state on the territory of another state without the consent of the latter constitute a violation of international law and of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of that country, and potentially an act of aggression, according to the International Court of Justice;

1.      Expresses its grave concern with regard to the threat posed to global peace and security by the use of armed drones outside of the international legal framework; urges the EU to develop a commensurate policy response at both European and global level which upholds human rights and international humanitarian law;

2.      Strongly denounces terrorism and believes that it has to be combated within the limits of the rule of law; notes that there is no international armed conflict between the US and Al-Qaeda and associated entities within the rules set by the UN Charter, and denounces ongoing practices of targeted killings outside of armed conflict as violations of international law which set a dangerous precedent that other states might seek to exploit to avoid responsibility for unlawful killings in the future;

3.      Calls on the Member States to commit to ensuring that, where there are reasonable grounds for believing that an individual or entity within their jurisdiction may be connected to an unlawful targeted killing abroad, measures are taken in accordance with their domestic and international legal obligations to investigate and to bring those responsible to justice;

4.      Calls on all states in possession of armed drone technology: (i) to publicly disclose the legal basis for the use of drones, specify operational responsibility, and provide information on the victims of drone strikes, in particular civilians; (ii) to ensure that they carry out prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all cases where there are reasonable grounds to believe that drone strikes have resulted in unlawful killings; (iii) to ensure that the criteria include impartial investigations of alleged breaches of international and national law, assistance to civilian victims and compensation and other redress to families of civilian victims; (iv) to allow for judicial review of drone strikes and to ensure that victims of unlawful drone strikes have effective access to remedies;

5.      Calls on the Vice/President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Member States, the Council and the Commission to:

a)      oppose and ban the practice of extrajudicial targeted killings;

b)     ensure that Member States, in conformity with their legal obligations, do not perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states;

c)      include armed drones in relevant European and international disarmament and arms control regimes;

d)     work towards a ban on research into and the development, procurement and export of possible future fully automatic weapons systems which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention;

e)      adopt an EU common position on armed drones;

6.      Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the European External Action Service, the Council, the parliaments of the Member States and the Commission.

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