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U.S. Drone Attacks and the Proportionality Principle: Growing ignorance or Consciousness?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis focuses on the usage of military drones, a type of semi-autonomous weapon, which has shifted the premises of conventional warfare, particularly relating to the ethics and legality of warfare. This paper examines the conditions that affect the civilian casualties in United States (U.S.) drone attacks. Drawing on Graham Allison’s work on the factors that influence U.S. foreign policy decision making, I theorize that civilian collateral casualties are more likely under certain conditions. These conditions changes depending on the type of administration in office, level of organization pressure, and the value and level of risk a target directs towards the U.S. In light of the discussion and the effect of drones on civilian casualties a debate upon the proportionality principle will be assessed. In the assessment a cost and benefit analysis is made between the military goal and civilian casualties (Gardam,1993). The proportionality principle refers to the balancing act of the excessive use of force on civilians in relation to the military goal.

This paper is using a quantitative method. This study investigate data on US drone attacks, sourced from Bureau of Investigative Journalism, covering 733 attacks in four countries (Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan) during the time period from 2002 to 2016. Based on Allison’s model three hypotheses are formulated and evaluated against the data using descriptive statistic and t-tests. The empirical result suggests that there was a statistical significance in all three hypotheses, indicating that it was possible to detect that under certain circumstances drone attacks are more likely to lead to more civilian casualties. However, when one observed the total casualties in proportion to the civilian casualties the result was not as grand as anticipated. However, the findings of this paper illustrates a pattern that during certain premises and cost and benefit analyses, the usage of drones are causing a greater risk towards civilians. Thus, these discussions further develop an already existing debate on today’s focus on military autonomous weapons and the results of using such weapons. Hence, this type of study can be applied to other military autonomous weapons as well. In light of the discussion of the proportionality principle, this paper suggest that the development of autonomous military weapons should not be taken lightly and an improvement of international regulations should perhaps be made. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 46
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-157224OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-157224DiVA, id: diva2:1217177
Presentation
2018-05-29, 20:20 (English)
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Available from: 2018-06-13 Created: 2018-06-12 Last updated: 2018-06-13Bibliographically approved

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