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204 viewsAll GS PapersGS Paper 3
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Approach:

  1. Introduce drone technology.
  2. Define the concept of 2nd Drone Age.
  3. Mention the issues and implications – i.e., the need for drone regulation.
  4. Conclusion

With the advancement in drone technology and a lack of global norms, the second drone age has been marred with high-end violence using drones.

Today the international drone market has a vast range of offerings, like tiny startups selling $1,000-to-$2,000 off-the-shelf technology, that can be easily weaponized by terrorist groups. The proliferation of drones in the international market and the way these drones are shaping up the global military programmes, with equally significant applications in civilian sector, is being termed as the second age of drones. 102 countries now actively run military drone programmes.

The first age of drones, was dominated by the U.S. since its first attack using a remotely piloted craft in 2001. Now, it’s an ungoverned space with billions of dollars to be made and thousands of lives at stake.

Issues & Implications:

  • There’s an absence of any overarching regulatory regime to protect civilians and uphold humanitarian laws, and to examine the operational and tactical ramifications of this remote-control warfare.
  • For e.g., A US drone strike in Kabul in August 2021 that targeted terrorists instead killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children.
  • Drones are a gateway technology. They’ve opened the door to weaponized AI, algorithmic and robotic warfare, and loosened human control over the deployment of lethal force.
  • The Missile Technology Control Regime, an informal political pact among 35 members, seeks to limit the proliferation of and trade in missiles and missile technology, which covers attack drones.
  • But there’s no enforcement mechanism. It’s not equipped to regulate armed and networked drones.
  • Implications: Large-scale drone makers now negotiate sales directly with prospective buyers who have clear military-security uses in mind.
  • Turkey sold weaponized drones to Ethiopia, to be used against rebel forces in the Tigray region’s civil war.
  • In the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region saw Azerbaijan emerge as the winner by using sophisticated drones.
  • It has allowed powers like the US to flout global norms.

There’s a need for a Drone Technology Control Regime. Nations should establish a multilateral process to develop standards for the design, export and use of drones, as well as stricter controls on the transfer of military technologies. Sales agreements, should include civilian protection and adherence to international human rights.

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