UN wants to use drones to engage in peacekeeping operations

24 Feb 2015

Head of the UN's peacekeeping operations Herve Ladsous (second right), inspects an UAV used in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, during a ceremony in Goma in 2013. Photo via MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti

The United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations is aiming to be at the forefront of technological advances, according to a report calling on the use of drones in peacekeeping operations.

The findings for the report were compiled by a five-member UN panel on technology and innovation, led by peace and security expert Jane Holl Lute. The panel attempted to discredit concepts, in what it referred to as ‘exploding the myths’.

Perhaps the most interesting ‘myth’ the panel addressed related to the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), more commonly known as drones, into combat zones. In the panel’s example of a wrongful opinion, it suggested drones are “nothing more than a particularly non-transparent and intrusive technology – into mission areas for narrow political purposes”.

Future Human

The UN’s rebuttal said, however, that on the grander scale of the situation, drones’ involvement would be limited.

“While unmanned aerial systems (UAS) do give dramatically greater visibility into a mission area, they can hardly be considered more intrusive than the mission itself,” the report said, but added, “They are simply too useful a tool to pretend otherwise. That said, the panel believes strongly that the deployment and use of UAVs, and the systems that underpin their use, must be fully transparent from the start.”

In a follow-up piece posted to their own website, Lute as the lead author of the report, spoke specifically of the use of UAVs in future conflicts, describing them as “a good example of one technology of which a lot of organisations around the world are making increasing use. We think this is a capability missions ought to be able to take greater advantage of.

“The ability to visualise your operating area of responsibility from the air is an essential capability for every mission, really with only a few exceptions.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic