Stimson in the News

Grading Progress on U.S. Drone Policy report cited in Pakistan Observer

in Program

The correct legal categorization of the conflict ( keeping in view, the Law of Armed Conflict) with AlQaeda is not obvious. It is plainly not a civil war or other ‘ internal’ armed conflict, such as the conflicts to which Additional Protocol II paradigmatically applies. It is also not an ‘ international’ armed conflict in the sense of Common Article 2 of the Geneva Conventions, nor is it a ‘ war of national liberation’ in the sense of Additional Protocol I. Nonetheless, under the U. S. Supreme Court’s ‘ ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld’, it is an armed conflict ‘ not of an international character’ to which at least some elements of the LOAC apply. It is assumed, then, that the conflict is best described as a ‘ transnational’ one between a ‘ nation state’ ( United States) and its allies, and a ‘ transnational terrorist group’( Al­ Qaeda/ Daesh/ ISIS) and its non­ state affiliates. 


The review by the Stimson Center, a nonpartisan research organization, gives the Obama administration an ‘ F’ for failing to provide a clear legal justification for its use of drones to kill al Qaeda or Islamic State extremists in countries where the United States is not at war. And the administration also receives an ‘ F’ for failing to ensure strong oversight and accountability for the secret program, which has become a signature of Obama’s tenure. There are also ‘ Ds’ and ‘ unknown’ awarded to the White House on other aspects of drone programme.

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