After "Top Gun" : how drone strikes impact the law of war
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University of Pennsylvania journal of international law, Vol. 33, no. 3, Spring 2012, p. 675-718
Laurie R. Blank
The first section will address foundational questions regarding the application of the law of armed conflict to drones, including the legality of armed drones as a weapons system and their use in accordance with the key law of armed conflict requirements of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in attack. Although many argue that the "joystick mentality" of remotely piloted aircraft and weapons can lead to desensitization and a decreased likelihood of adherence to international norms, the examination below demonstrates that drones indeed offer extensive and enhanced opportunities for compliance with the law of armed conflict. In the second section, this article will explore how the burgeoning use of armed drones raises new questions for some traditional concepts and categories within the law of armed conflict, such as the status of persons and the geographical locus of attacks and hostilities, and potentially new challenges in the implementation of distinction and proportionality.