MEPs call for a global debate on the use of drones 

Drones are increasingly being used by countries around the world ©Belga/AFP/M.Bureau  

The increasing use of drones could lead lead to security and the rule of law being undermined, according to specialists taking part in a joint hearing organised by the human rights and security and defence subcommittees on 25 April. MEPs were especially concerned about drones being used for targeted killings and called for a worldwide debate on the use of unmanned aircraft and the creation of global standards.

Need for global rules

Specialists told MEPs during the hearing that drone technology was quickly developing and growing in popularity, therefore a thorough rethink of relevant international laws and procedures was needed. They also raised concerns over the US's use of drones and said that condoning it was not the way to create common standards. Camille Grand, director of Paris-based Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique, said: "The US has already conducted over 350 targeted attacks in Pakistan and over 50 in Yemen - which are not war zones." He pointed out that at least 76 states were trying to acquire the technology, which was indispensable to modern warfare.

Role of the EU

MEPs commented during the hearing that the EU has to take a stance. Sarah Ludford, a British member of the ALDE group, said: "It is the EU that has the clout to lead this fight back on behalf of international law." Ana Gomes, a Portuguese member of the S&D group, added: "We need to conduct similar hearings with our American colleagues, to make them understand the tremendous implications of this outrageous policy."

Charles Tannock, a British member of the ECR group, said that new jurisprudence was needed, but that it was a very complex issue. "We need new thinking, as existing law doesn't answer those questions," he said. Talking about Pakistan, he said: "What if the terrorist would prevail there and obtain a nuclear weapon? These are the terrible dilemmas the US have. That is why they perhaps need to resort to these methods."