Episode two of 'World on Trial' to focus on U.S. use of drones

The next episode of "World on Trial," an international human rights public television and web-based interactive series produced by The School of International Affairs, WPSU, and Penn State Law will examine the legality of the use of unmanned drones by the U.S. government to target suspected terrorists.

In recent years, the U.S. inventory of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has grown from the 167 in 2002 to over 7,500 today and accounts for approximately 30 percent of all military aircraft. The U.S. military now trains more unmanned pilots than traditional fighter pilots. At least 40 other countries, including Russia, China and Iran are developing unmanned systems technology. The reach of this technology goes beyond military use, and spans civil law enforcement and commercial uses.

Although drones have been credited with effectively targeting suspected terrorists and dramatically lowering the risk to U.S. service members, considerable criticism has accompanied these achievements. Scholars and activists have denounced the use of drones by the U.S. government as unethical, counterproductive, and in violation of U.S. domestic and international law. Specifically, critics have argued that the use of drones by the U.S. government violates:

  • international law principles of territorial integrity and state sovereignty;
  • international humanitarian law principles of distinction and proportionality;
  • international human rights laws mandating due process and the protection of human life; and
  • domestic U.S. laws governing the use of force and the prohibition on assassinations.

To join a discussion on this topic or to view the first episode of "World on Trial" that focused on the French Headscarf law, please visit www.worldontrial.psu.edu.