Top Pro & Con Arguments


Drone strikes violate human rights and nations’ sovereignty.

The Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School explains, “While interrogation and detention, as recent history shows all too well, carry their own risks of human rights abuses, these non-lethal approaches at least provide the opportunity for an assessment of whether targeted individuals in fact pose a threat to U.S. interests—an opportunity taken off the table by drone strikes.” Drone strikes, however, are secretive, lack sufficient legal oversight, and prevent citizens from holding their leaders accountable. [153]

The United States frequently calls drone strikes “targeted killings,” which are, as Charli Carpenter, professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, explains, “the extrajudicial execution of nonstate political adversaries,” or political assassination, which is “taboo in war,” banned by the 1907 Hague Convention and the 1998 Rome Statute, and is a “violation of the human right to life enshrined in Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” [154]

The strikes are especially problematic outside of declared war, when even terrorists must be arrested, tried, and convicted of a capital crime before being killed. [154]

Strikes are also often carried out without the permission and against the objection of the target countries. Iraq Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halboosi called the Jan. 2020 strike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani “a flagrant violation of sovereignty, and a violation of international conventions… Any security and military operation on Iraqi territory must have the approval of the government.” [155]

Pakistan’s foreign ministry called drone strikes “illegal” and said they violated the country’s sovereignty. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the “use of drones is not only a continued violation of our territorial integrity but also detrimental to our resolve at efforts in eliminating terrorism from our country… I would therefore stress the need for an end to drone attacks.” [70] [71]

United Nations officials have called U.S. drone strikes a violation of sovereignty, and have pressed for investigations into the legality of the attacks. [72] [73] [74]

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