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Killer drones and associated surveillance are a crime – immoral, illegal, and foolhardy. They must be banned for the good of all.

When I attended the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, from which I received a MALD in 1985, my study of international law didn’t address drone usage and its extreme dangers and toll on communities. International law still doesn’t address it specifically – and legislation is much needed to Ban Killer Drones.

Drone killings are illegal because assassination is illegal. It is an act of aggression – and acts of aggression are illegal since the Nuremberg trials. Also unless there is clear evidence that the person killed by the drone was about to kill someone else, it is a human rights violation. Justification of the use of force must include imminent threat to life.

The presence of weaponized drones furthermore, terrorizes the community members who are themselves now under imminent threat of death by the drone’s presence – the loaded and aimed weapon looming. We know from our friends and relations in other parts of the world, including especially the Afghan Peace Volunteers (youth) that they suffer mightily under drones, as do the peoples of Yemen, Gaza, Iraq, Libya, and more. This invasion of sovereign air space is another issue.

I was privileged to be one of the Hancock 38 protesting killer drones at the home of the 174th Attack Wing outside Syracuse NY. At that time, drones weren’t part of the national conversation – the Creech 14 and Hancock 38 seemed to have helped draw attention to the issue.

And now drones are commonplace – in military aggression overseas, in police operations, even in amateur photography – in the US and elsewhere. In North Dakota, the state approved the placement of “non-lethal weapons” – such as tasers, tear gas, and rubber bullets – on drones. As we know, these can be lethal as well. Police taser use, for example, has killed 500 people since 2010.

Moreover, operators using them for long hours and with a great deal of misinformation, extreme ease of pushing the button, and lack of cultural understanding, many wrongful deaths occur. In signature strikes (based on little but very circumstantial and truly irrelevant information), many mistakes made (see You Only Die Once, a report by Resist that say people are reported to have been killed up to 7 times, so when someone has been killed it was based on misidentification). Also an average of 9 bystanders are killed because they are near the one person aimed at.

Moreover, as surveillance tools, drones are invasive and powerful – a drone very far away can zoom in very closely. This is another problem exacerbated by drones, as well as other surveillance, e.g., cellphone providers, and other cameras, communications, technology, etc. This increases anxiety, fear, and even distrust in the community.

Lastly, the blowback associated with weaponized drones is clearly dangerous and likely to exacerbate and inflame any existing issues. Drones are relatively inexpensive to make and operate, and people and groups are well able to do so.

Weaponized drones must be banned, and surveillance deeply curtailed. Together we can make it happen! Onward!!

Victoria Ross, QCSW, LMSW, MSW, MALD, DHL, is the Human Rights & Peace Education Chair for the WNY Peace Center; and a Consultant for the Interfaith Peace Network of WNY.

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