On Wednesday October 2, in front of a packed house at the University of Toronto the 2013 Keith Davey Forum on Public Affairs grappled with one of the most complex questions in modern conflict: What is it exactly about drones that make us uneasy?
Boston University Professor Neta Crawford and University of Massachusetts Associate Professor Avery Plaw discussed the legal frameworks and ethical questions involved in unmanned weapons, with Janice Stein, Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs moderating.
A “drone” is the colloquial name for an unmanned aerial vehicle that is often armed and predominately used under remote, real-time human control. Drones are an attractive military tool because in addition to removing a human pilot from the risks involved in combat operations, they also remove the requirement for the technology, armour, and safety capability of conventional aircraft. Drones allow for greater practicality, are relatively cheap to produce, have a greater effective range, and are more versatile than manned aircraft. The United States is the largest producer and most frequent user of combat drones, having conducted operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen in its efforts to fight the global War On Terror.