Despite the ever growing commercial application of drones, whether on the farm, in our hospitals or even on our building sites, it’s likely that for many of us, drones will be associated with the unmanned aircraft used to bomb far flung sites during various conflicts of recent times.
A recent paper from the ICT4Peace Foundation highlights how the devices can also have useful peacekeeping functions.
The paper builds on the growing appreciation of the need for new tools to assist peacekeeping operations. Indeed, Herve Ladsous from the UN revealed just recently that we cannot continue using the same tools as we did 50 or 100 years ago, and the United Nations Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) is working on the creation of a force for the future.
This force will consist of new technologies such as unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones to you and me). The primary role of these devices in peacekeeping missions will be the provision of enhanced surveillance capabilities, which will provide forces with an enhanced situational awareness.
This in turn should ensure peacekeeping missions are both more effective and cost effective.
The paper suggests that drones “represent a new way of ‘seeing and knowing’ in peacekeeping and can dramatically improve peacekeepers’ access to information.” One strong proponent of UUAVs claims that they are a “major step forward towards much more discriminating use of violence in war and self-defense – a step forward in humanitarian technology.”
Despite the potential benefits to using drones in such ways, their use remains controversial, and there are a number of political and ethical issues to consider.
For instance, some states dislike the use of drones, even in peacekeeping missions, because of a fear of territorial and political compromise elicited by the devices.
The paper provides a good overview of the current state of play with regards to drone usage for peacekeeping purposes, and is well worth a read if you have an interest either in that topic, or indeed in drone usage more widely.