International humanitarian law (IHL) and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's) (drones) as a means of warfare against armed groups in Africa
Kasaija Phillip Apuuli
Host item entries:
Uganda's paper series on international humanitarian law, Vol. 1, No. 1, August 2013, p. 109-122
The current move to deploy the UAVs in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been occasioned by the raise of the M23 rebels, who beginning in April 2012, began taking large swathes of territory in the area. Rwanda and Uganda have been accused of helping the rebels logistically and politically. Thus the UAVs are supposed to monitor the common borders between eastern DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. When used in situations of armed conflict (whether international or noninternational), UAVs raise serious issues in IHL. This paper discusses the implications of the use of UAVs against non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in Africa, especially the implications on the IHL principles of distinction, proportionality and prohibitions of perfidy among others. The use of UAVs against NSAGs presupposes that there is an armed conflict between the groups and those deploying the UAVs. But the question is: Does an armed conflict, triggering the application of jus in bello requirements exist between the NSAGs and the states deploying the UAVs? It is only if this question is answered in the affirmative that the use of armed UAVs raises IHL issues.