Drone Warfare in Counterterrorism and Normative Change: US Policy and the Politics of International Law

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Abstract / Description of output

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or drones in counterterrorism has changed the face of warfare and is challenging International Law on a number of levels. This paper assesses some of those challenges in the context of the Obama Administration’s justifications to use drones for targeted killing. It focusses on the US as norm entrepreneur that purposefully works to alter prevalent norms related to the use of drones in counterterrorism efforts. The paper analyses normative developments and the meaning-in-use of existing legal provisions that are invoked to justify US policy in this area. By focussing on norm entrepreneurs, this paper moves away from purely structural accounts of normative change towards a stronger emphasis on actors and the role of agency. Rather than understanding US drone policy as violating International Law, this paper argues that the Obama administration was acting as norm entrepreneur in its counterterrorism efforts, aiming to change the meaning of a number of international legal concepts to justify its policy decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-262
JournalGlobal Society
Volume32
Issue number3
Early online date16 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018

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