The Economic and Social Research Council, which is largely funded by the government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, awarded £289,412.78 in March this year to Birmingham’s Professor Nicholas Wheeler, Professor Stefan Wolff and Dr David Dunn to investigate “The Political Effects of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles on Conflict and Cooperation Within and Between States.” The study three case studies will relate to Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan.
The University of Birmingham’s website has announced its latest Policy Commission: “The Security Impact of Drones: challenges and opportunities for the UK” to be chaired by Sir David Omand, the UK’s former Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator and director of GCHQ. Members of the commission are listed on the website and include the three ESRC recipients.
Described as an enquiry in the Birmingham Post, it was launched at the Labour Party conference and will repeat the exercise at the Conservative annual conference. MPs Zac Goldsmith and Tom Watson, co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drones welcome the commission.
As the university’s press release notes:
“The use of armed drones, or as Air Forces prefer to call them, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is on the increase. The United Kingdom is using armed drones as part of its campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan, a policy that has attracted publicity centred on the civilian casualties that such actions cause.
“What is less frequently remarked upon is the role armed UAVs have played in protecting UK military personnel on the ground. How should we balance the conflicting moral choices involved in conducting these counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations?”
“The Commission will focus on these questions related to the Global War on Terror, as well as the wider impact of drone technology on future UK and international security”.
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