Citizens Observe the Military

Drones and sensor weapons will definitely determine the nature of warfare in future. Many military forces have been using “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAV), or drones, for reconnaissance since the 1970s; they have now been developed, produced or used by over 50 countries. In recent years, there has been a trend to arm them. The USA is fighting its enemies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan with these pilotless airplanes, which are radio-guided from a command centre in the USA. The decision as to who or what is to be targeted and attacked is taken on the basis of the video image transmitted by satellite, which seems problematic in view of international law, since there is a danger of indiscriminate attacks, which are banned under the Geneva Convention.

Prototypes of fighter planes are being developed in various countries, including Germany. The Bundeswehr intends to acquire drones, and is already using them in Afghanistan. Hundreds of civilians have already been the victim of indiscriminate attacks from drones. In Pakistan for example, over 700 civilians and have been killed with drones since 2006 as a result of at least 50 attacks – along with only fourteen Al-Qaeda leaders.

The long-term perspective is to have armed unmanned aircraft or systems select and attack their targets independently. High-powered weapons systems with no crew on board would provide the forces with considerable advantages. However, their widespread introduction would entail considerable dangers.

The alliance has observed and documented the manufacturers of UAV and sensor weapons at international armaments trade fairs. It has also collected information on and evaluated accidents caused by drones which affected civilians. The initial results have been presented at a workshop of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Brussels on the 7th December 2009.

Speakers: Thomas Küchenmeister und Jan Schulz, Alliance
Venue: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Brussels
Organisation: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Brussels
Kontakt: Marlis Gensler