Extraterritorial targeting by means of armed drones: Some legal implications

07 May 2015

This image shows Reaper a Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS), part of 39 Squadron Royal Air Force. The Reaper has completed 20,000 operational flight hours in theatre, and is operated from Kandahar Air Field (KAF) in Afghanistan.


Jelena Pejic, ICRC Senior Legal Adviser


The use of "drones" has grown exponentially over the past decade, giving rise to a host of legal and other issues. Internationally, it is the utilization of armed drones by States for the extraterritorial targeting of persons that has generated significant debate. This article attempts to outline some aspects of the relevant legal framework, with a focus on the international law applicable to drone strikes in situations of armed conflict. It briefly addresses the jus ad bellum and then centres on the jus in bello, addressing, in turn, questions related to when there is an armed conflict, what the rules on targeting are, who may be targeted and where persons may be targeted.

Jelena Pejic's article can be accessed here.

See also: Jelena Pejic's recorded presentation on the subject as part of the ICRC conference "Scope of the Law in Armed Conflict"


Article - Extraterritorial targeting by means of armed drones: Some legal implications, by Jelena Pejic