U.N. Launches its First Drone, Joining U.S.-Led Proliferation across 70 Nations

Thursday, December 05, 2013
UN drone headed for DRC (photo: Alain Wandimoyi, AP)

The United Nations has joined the more than 70 nations using drones, although unlike the United States’ campaign featuring deadly attacks, the international body intends to use its new technology for peacekeeping purposes.


The UN drone fleet currently consists of just two aircraft, made in Italy. They’re being deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to monitor the border with Rwanda and Uganda.


The Falco drones, manufactured by Selex ES, will observe the movements of a Rwandan Hutu rebel group, FDLR, and Ugandan rebels, ADF-NALU. Both operate in the DRC’s east, which is rich in minerals.


“The drones...will allow us to have reliable information about the movement of populations in the areas where there are armed groups,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous announced in Goma, the largest city in eastern Congo.


“We will survey the areas where there are armed groups, and we can control the frontier,” he added.


The drone deployment follows the defeat of M23, a rebel group seeking the overthrow of the DRC’s president, Joseph Kabila. UN peacekeepers supported Kabila’s forces in the war.


The drones will only fly over Congolese territory, according to General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, commander of the UN force in Congo, because UN peacekeepers have no mandate to operate in neighboring countries.


Of the more than 70 countries using drones today, at least 16 employ types capable of launching missile attacks.


These unmanned aircraft have killed between 3,741 and 5,825 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and injured another 1,371 to 1,836 since 2004, according to Foreign Policy in Focus.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

U.N. Forces Use Drones for First Time, in Eastern Congo (by Kenny Katombe, Reuters)

Pandora and the Drones (by Conn Hallinan, Foreign Policy in Focus)

Pakistan Deploys First Home-Made Drones (RT)

UN Report Challenges Legality of Armed Drones (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 

U.N. Plans to Deploy Surveillance Drones for Congo Peacekeeping Missions (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)  

Killer Drones…How Long until U.S. Enemies Own Their Own? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


anonamouse 5 years ago
Looks like maybe HG Wells' 1933 classic "The Shape of Things to Come" --- in which he wrote that a "Dictatorship of the Air" would control the globe --- may in fact be the shape of things to come.

Leave a comment