USING RISK THEORIES TO UNDERSTAND THE DISPLACEMENT OF POLITICAL AND MILITARY RISK IN LETHAL DRONE USE BY THE US AND UK

Lead Research Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Department Name: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Abstract

Specific research questions
1. To what extent do governments deploy armed drones as a means of reducing political risk?
2. How is risk distributed across the strategic, operational and tactical levels of military interventions?
3. How are civilians affected by displaced risk from drone use?
Background and rationale for the study
Weaponised drones have introduced new capabilities and new understandings of war and military intervention to the international security domain since their advent in the early twenty-first century. Applications extend from the CIA's unconventional use of Predator and Reaper drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia to the UK's deployment of Reaper drones in conventional military roles in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Furthermore, drones have had an impact across multiple conceptual domains and academic landscapes: culture, identity, political violence, ethics, geopolitics and more (Stanford and NYU, 2012; Galliott, 2012; Sauer and Schörnig, 2012; Baggiarini, 2015; Williams, 2015). Drones are now explicitly used to 'minimise the risk to the forces we commit to battle' (Ministry of Defence, 2013: 2-8). This project seeks to research the ethical and social dimensions of the deployment of lethal drones as risk mitigation. Specifically, the extent to which use of drones mitigate risk in the political and military domains of the user, while increasing the degree of risk experienced by civilians in areas where drone strikes occur. Discourse analysis of open source government, UN and NGO policy statements, key speeches, and parliamentary debates will be used in the application and assessment of theories of risk across two case studies: CIA unconventional drone use and RAF conventional drone use. Findings from this research will help to provide a broader understanding of the ethical and social consequences of lethal drone use from a risk perspective. This, in turn, will enable more comprehensive and nuanced risk calculations in future policy decision regarding the deployment of weaponised drones.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000673/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1956375 Studentship ES/P000673/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021 Marcus Matthew Curran