The British Section of Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace, has issued a statement outlining its concerns at the development and use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as Drones.
Pax Christi is deeply concerned about the rapid growth in the development and use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles. In theory these might possibly be used in a way that conforms to Just War teaching - such as a war declared by legitimate authority, with discrimination between combatants and civilians. However, UAVs are not currently used in this way.
In Pax Christi's judgement now is the time to challenge their development, before UAV's become enshrined a 'legitimate' weapons system and play a deeper role in the tragedy of warfare. Pax Christi believe that they contravene existing moral and legal codes that govern war and the conduct of war.
According to Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi, their low cost, ease of use and minimal military casualty rate make them attractive to politicians. They insulate Western public opinion from the true horrors of modern warfare. With the use of drones we feel that decisions leading towards war and military intervention will be more not less likely.
The UK is involved in the development of its own UK-operated systems and has a contract with the Israeli company, Elbit Systems and Thales UK for the Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle due to be operational by the RAF in Spring 2013.
Pax Christi is a member of the Drone Campaign network which is already campaigning for an end to the secrecy surrounding the use of British drones in Afghanistan in order to encourage proper public debate. This should include the reasons for individual drone strikes and the number of people killed.
The full statement can be read here: http://www.paxchristi.org.uk/documents/Security/Drones%20final%20edited.pdf
See also: www.paxchristi.org.uk