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 claim that armed drones are used in situations of war, even if the situation at hand does not objectively qualify as an armed conflict.
He notes that, in the long run, it is in the interest of everyone to stick to the established rules. More and more states are acquiring drones, and if states who used them first, such as the United States of America, bend the rules to suit themselves in the short term, they create precedents which will come back to haunt all of us and undermine global security.
Armed drones are increasingly also used in domestic policing, for example in crowd control. Professor Heyns, in a 2016 article in the Human Rights Quarterly, says that we need to be even more circumspect about this development: the primary duty of the police is to protect people. If they are not present at the scenes where their presence is required, they cannot do so. There are no legal grounds to say that armed drones are under all circumstances unlawful weapons of law enforcement and therefore should be banned, but the existing human rights rules, such as those of necessity, proportionality and precaution, should be applied with great rigour.
The challenge will remain to ensure that short-term advantages do not take us on a road where we do not want to be in the long run.
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