The procurement and use of armed UAVs by the German military in international and German law
Nicholas English and Tim Rauschning
Host item entries:
German yearbook of international law = Jahrbuch für internationales Recht, Vol. 56, 2013, p.539-555
The procurement or armed UAVs is seemingly unproblematic under international law and the German domestic law that it informs upon. Where international and German law do lay down restrictions is in relation to the use of armed UAVs. The systems may be deployed outside of armed conflict under international human rights law only in very limited circumstances, if at all. Under German law, the Bundeswehr can only be deployed within Germany in response to natural disasters or grave accidents, where armed UAVs would be unsuitable, and in times of internal emergency, which sets a very hight threshold. Targeted killing outside of armed conflict contravenes both international and German law and could lead to criminal sanctions under both. In the situation of armed conflict, IHL prescribes a number of prerequisites that must be eveluated on a case-by-case basis to determine what constitutes a necessary and proportionate deprivation of life. German law puts an incread importance on the idea of human dignity, meaning that in some situations the use of armed UAVs may be acceptable under IHL while not being so under German law, which would prefer capture and internment. German law also places more emphasis on the principle of proportionality, which is stronger that its IHL counterpart.