News of this 2013 report is being reported now for those who – like the writer – missed it at the time. As this site was set up in 2014, there is no reference to this significant work apart from a reference to the fact that Medact is a member of the Drones Campaign Network, a UK-based network of organisations, academics and individuals working together to share information and coordinate collective action in relation to military drones.
Medact was formed by health professionals to harness their expertise, mandate and ethical principles to raise awareness and speak out on health issues.
The author of the report is Tomasz Pierscionek (left), who was born in Australia and moved to the UK aged 12. He is a doctor specialising in psychiatry (Academic Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry) and works in Newcastle, UK, interested in politics, current affairs and global health and – currently – editor of the online current affairs journal the London Progressive Journal (LPJ), which is not affiliated to any political party or lobby group. He served on the board of the charity Medact for two years before stepping down in June 2013 but is still involved in Medact activities as a member of the organisation).
With a few colleagues from Medact, he worked on a paper whose aim was to compare civilian death rates in conflict caused by various weapons (ranging from small arms fire to aerial bombardment). One of the key points of the paper was the finding that the proportion of civilian to combatant deaths was much higher when artillery was used or when bombs were dropped from the sky compared to when small arms were used. The reason for this is that bombardment and shelling tends to occur predominantly in urban areas where there are higher concentrations of civilians. For example, a building where alleged militants are holed up may be in a densely packed urban area. Hence, if a bomb is dropped on the ‘militants’ (and even it actually hits the intended target) there are still likely to be numerous non combatant casualties.
In the process of writing this paper, they started to learn about the use of a new weapon of war, armed drones. After realising that the use of armed drones was a major issue in itself and one which warranted further investigation, he suggested to his fellow Medact board members that they publish a report looking just at the health effects of these weapons.
This inspired Tomasz to start reading and researching about the use of armed drones. He led an initiative whilst on the board of Medact, aiming to raise awareness of the health effects of armed drones by producing a report (with fellow Medact board members). The report was called Drones: The Physical and Psychological implications of a Global Theatre of War.
He intends to continue to work with other individuals and organisations who are raising awareness of the proliferation of armed drone and the ethical moral and legal aspects associated with their use.
The full Medact Drone Report can be read and downloaded here: http://www.medact.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/report-dronesupdate-2013.pdf