Monday, July 6, 2009

Unmanned drones could be banned, says senior judge

Unmanned drones could be banned from use in conflicts, Lord Bingham, one of Britain's most senior judges has suggested.

He likened drones, which have killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Gaza, to cluster bombs and landmines.

Lord Bingham made the comments to the British Institute of International and Comparative Law in an interview which addressed the issue of the state being bound by the rule of law.

"Are there, for example, and this goes to conflict, not post-conflict situations, weapons that ought to be outlawed?" he said.

"From time to time in the history of international law various weapons have been thought to be so cruel as to be beyond the pale of human tolerance. I think cluster bombs and landmines are the most recent examples.

"It may be – I'm not expressing a view – that unmanned drones that fall on a house full of civilians is a weapon the international community should decide should not be used."

His comments are likely to lead to further calls for new international rules to protect civilians from attacks by the pilotless aircraft.

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