Concerning the issue of drone warfare we run into a problem with international laws as well as our own laws. This issue arises do to the fact that there are no laws that specifically apply to drone warfare. Is it legal for the president to call a drone strike on a potential target, in a country that we are not currently fighting, without the consent of congress? does it violate the Geneva convention or international law?
It has been the policy of the current administration to use drones without any consultation or consent of congress, even when the strikes were in countries that we are not at war with. It has been said that the president is given a list of names and he decides who on the list they will kill, whether this is completely true or not it is true that some of the strikes are against people that are just suspected of terrorism. many of these strikes had civilian casualties.
The Oxford Research Group says that "an important difference between the law of armed conflict and the law enforcement model is that while the former requires civilian casualties to be proportional to the military advantage gained, the latter generally does not accept casualties of innocent bystanders at all."( Knoops703) What this is saying is that, in a military action civilian casualties can in some cases be exectable as long as what you gain is worth it. However the definition of International armed conflict is "the use of armed force between two opposing states." (Knoops704) A person could argue that we are not fighting an opposing state, and so civilian casualties are unacceptable. But is it legal?
If we look at international law we can see a problem. Though there is no law specifically applying to drones, there are laws about entering other countries with military hardware and killing their citizens. We also run into issues with the Geneva convention, the Geneva convention says that a military must take all steps to avoid civilian casualties. The problem arises when there are reports of twenty to fifty casualties when we kill about ten bad guys.
There are policies describing what requirements a target must meet before a drone strike can be authorized; however, they are vague and the meaning is easily changes depending on a persons interpretation of them.
1. Suspects, such as Mr Al-Awlaki, can only be killed through drone attacks in the event that an incarceration of such person is illusory. 2. The person in question has to be involved in preparing ‘acts of war’ against the U.S. 3. Consequently, that individual should pose an immediate and significant threat to the U.S. 4. The State ‘hosting’ such an individual must not be able or willing to apprehend him or her. (Knoops700)
An issue that appears throughout this is that there is no oversight from congress deciding who we are attacking. This is especially a problem when we are invading a sovereign state too take out a perceived threat, or even more controversial taking out American Citizens.