The plain drone and the armed drone differ greatly in their impact on human security. The plain drone is essentially neutral; its impact depends on the nature and purpose of the agent wielding it. By contrast, the armed drone - being a weapon of stealth and precision that carries no immediate risk to its user - by its very nature encourages militarisation of conflict, violations of international law and proliferation. The US use of armed drones in its global “war on terror” has rightly caused concerns that the drone permits warfare of questionable legality, and that it is sparking a race towards ever more sophisticated models that should be subject to strict international regulation. Yet two decades into the “war on terror”, there has been virtually no progress towards stronger international regulation. Nor is self-restraint in existing user states much in evidence. That leaves self-interest in the form of fears of proliferation and a demanding technological race as the main incentives to regulate.
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