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Should Governments Be More Transparent About the Use of Drone Strikes?

Chatham House, London


Waleed Alhariri, Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, Yemen; Co-author, Out of the Shadows
Alex Moorehead,
Lecturer-in-Law & Director, Counterterrorism, Armed Conflict and Human Rights Project, Human Rights Institute, Columbia Law School; Co-author, Out of the Shadows
Lieutenant Colonel John Stroud-Turp, Arms Control and Counter Proliferation Policy, Ministry of Defence (2009-17)
Chair: Hannah Bryce, Assistant Head, International Security, Chatham House


Armed drones are increasingly being used by Western militaries in combat operations in a number of countries such as Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Governments and their militaries have argued that drone strikes enable more focused action and result in fewer civilian deaths than traditional warfare. But how can the public know that this is truly the case?  How transparent are governments about “targeted killings” and to what extent should these operations be opened up to public scrutiny?

This event will draw on findings from a new report by the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, Out of the Shadows, to analyse why transparency is important not only for the countries using lethal force but also for the individuals and communities impacted by drone strikes. The panellists will present ways in which governments can reduce the opaque nature of drone strikes while at the same time ensuring military and state interests are protected.