On The Use of Armed Drones
Greens have put the issue of the use of armed drones on the table in order to respond to two developments.
Since several years the US are using armed drones, including with the complicity of some EU member states, outside declared conflict zones in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Many civilians have been killed and injured, local populations traumatized. These drone strikes are not in compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law. There are serious shortcomings in terms of transparency and accountability.
On EU level there is an increase in projects aiming at creating a European drone programme, including an armed drone similar to the ones used by the US. In the framework of the EU's security research programme several components of drones have already been researched and developed. In addition seven EU Member States (France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain) decided to create a military drone club and asked the EU Defence Agency (EDA) for assistance. Later, on 19 December 2013 EU heads of state and government decided to also support the development of an EU drones programme.
Both, on the international and on the European level no-one has initiated a process aiming at preventing an arms race on drones and a policy aiming at ensuring that armed drones are not used in an illegal way in violation of international law standards.
What was the Greens' position?
The first thing we wanted the European Parliament to say very clearly is that the way the US is using armed drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia is nothing less than extrajudicial killing and that EU Member States are not allowed to be complicit in these killings. In addition, we also wanted proper investigations past drone strikes and that those responsible are punished and redress and compensation is ensured for victims.
With regard to the EU level we wanted to initiate an EU Common Position on the use of armed drones which 1) opposed and bans the practise of extrajudicial killings, 2) makes sure that EU Member State do not facilitate such killings by other states, 3) integrates armed drones in relevant international and European arms export regimes, 4) bans the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention.
Moreover, we also wanted the Commission to keep Parliament informed about the use of EU funds for all research and development projects related to drones. Finally, we wanted also to promote the idea of human rights impact assessments in respect of further drone development projects.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
We were able to convince conservatives, socialists and liberals to support our main demands. We were able to win a cross-party, 535 to 49 majority plenary vote, urging the EU Member States and the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy to:
1) oppose and ban the practise of extrajudicial killings,
2) make sure that EU Member State do not facilitate such killings by other states,
3) integrate armed drones in relevant international and European arms export regimes,
4) ban the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention.
This watershed resolution was welcomed worldwide including by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings and leading NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Reprieve.
Which points did the Greens lose?
We were very satisfied with this outcome but consider it only as a first step on which to build further action.
Procedure:Resolutions on topical subjects
Lead MEP:Barbara Lochbihler, Tarja Cronberg (Greens/EFA)
Green MEP responsible:Barbara Lochbihler, Tarja Cronberg
Staff contact:Tobias Heider(Email)
Outcome of the vote
Below you find the results of the final vote in plenary. How did the political groups vote? What about national delegations? And what was the position of your MEP?