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Unmanned Air Vehicles

Defence written question – answered on 25th February 2013.

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Photo of Tom Watson Tom Watson Labour Party Deputy Chair; Campaign Co-ordinator, Deputy Chair, Labour Party

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will undertake an assessment of the legality of targeted killings by remotely piloted air systems.

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

The UK complies fully with its obligations under international law, as set out in Article 36 of Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva conventions, to review all new weapons, and means and methods of warfare to determine whether their employment would in some or all circumstances be prohibited by the protocol or any other rule of international law.

The UK only operates one armed remotely piloted aircraft system, Reaper, which has been in service since 2007 and is predominately used for surveillance and reconnaissance tasks providing vital intelligence in support of our forces on the ground in Afghanistan. All UK forces in Afghanistan operate in accordance with international humanitarian law and UK rules of engagement, under the command of the NATO International Security and Assistance Forces (ISAF), under the legal authority of UN Security Council resolutions and with the consent of the Government of Afghanistan.

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