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Extremely Stealthy and Incredibly Close: Drones, Control, and Responsibility

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Drone technology is not only a game changer, it also triggers legal obligations

The political and academic debate on the use of armed drones has until now focused primarily on the legality and the moral permissibility of single attacks. This DIIS Working Paper by Project Researcher Frederik Rosén recasts our perception of drones as solitary planes to one of a comprehensive surveillance and weapon system with extensive capabilities for patrolling and controlling territories, and it argues that the critical concept of drone technology is not remoteness but proximity.

In so doing, Frederik Rosén identifies crucial, but overlooked, international legal implications of the use of drones for attack – implications that will only grow as the technology continues to mature. In fact, drone technology moves us swiftly towards an era where the “fog of war” has become history, and where weapons may not be engaged without employing available drone technology for precautionary purposes.