Sample International Relations Paper on The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Abstract

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is on the rise globally. Many countries have integrated the technology into their military operations, and the UAE has not been left behind. The reason for the UAE’s focus on UAVs is the heightened threats to its national security. This study explores the effectiveness of UAVs as a counterterrorism strategy. Major findings of the study are that UAVs are effective in the fight against terrorism; several challenges are encountered in the use of drones as a counterterrorism strategy; and that there has been an increased deployment of UAVs for targeted killing purposes. The research concludes that the UAE should consider investing heavily on the UAV technology to boost its national security while taking into account challenges and risks involved. The research emphasizes the key role of UAVs in the global fight against terrorism.

 

 

Table of Contents

Abstract 2

Chapter 1: Introduction. 4

Overview.. 4

Problem Statement 4

Significance of The Research. 5

Research Questions. 5

Structure/Outline of Report 6

Chapter 2: Literature Review and Theoretical Framework. 7

Historical Background. 7

Theoretical Framework. 7

Current Empirical Literature. 7

Effectiveness of UAVs In the Fight Against Terrorism.. 7

Challenges Encountered in The Use of Drones as A Counterterrorism Strategy. 8

Deployment of UAVs With Regard to Targeted Killing and Civilian Casualties. 9

Chapter 3: Research Methodology. 11

Research Design. 11

Procedure. 11

Data Collection and Analysis. 12

Chapter 4: Research Results. 13

Chapter 6: Conclusion and Recommendations. 16

Summary of Research Problem, Main Findings, and Discussion. 16

Research Implications. 16

Limitations. 16

Future Research Recommendations. 17

Works Cited. 18

Appendices. 20

Appendix A: Case Study Research Design and Procedures. 20

Appendix B: Gulf States. 21

 

 

 

Chapter 1: Introduction

Overview

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, is on the rise globally. UAVs are aircrafts that flown and controlled by an operator with no individual aboard. A combination of UAVs and ground control stations results in the formation of unnamed aerial systems (UAS). Drones are used for a variety of purposes although they are best known for their widespread use in military operations (Tabrizi and Bronk 1). In the military operation context, drones have several advantages over manned armed flights as well as sea-bed launches. Some advantages include less collateral damage; ability to strike quickly; and ability to hover over the targeted area for long periods while collecting crucial information for a strike (Bhattacharjee 3). Many countries are embracing UAVs and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has not been left behind (“The United Arab Emirates”). Currently the UAE has an ongoing territorial dispute with Iran with the latter issuing significant threats. For example, the leader of the Houthi rebels, Abdulmalik Al Houthi, threatened to launch missiles on Riyadh, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi if the UAE escalated fighting in the port city of Hodeidah (Aldroubi; Shinkman). Significant international forces are involved in the attempts to destabilize the UAE (Ibish 1). Thus, UAV technology could play a pivotal role in boosting national security.

Problem Statement

The UAE is mindful of the serious national security threats it faces and has developed initiatives to safeguard its people and infrastructure. Despite the initiatives and advancements in place, the country continues to face the threat of terrorism (“The Internal Security”). To counter terrorism, the UAE must adopt a strategy that will enhance the collection of useful intelligence. UAVs are highly effective intelligence assets (Farrow 6). They have successfully been used in the Middle East to neutralize terrorism threats and low-intensity conflicts due to their ability to collect covert intelligence and deliver lethal strikes against hard targets (“United Arab Emirates”). Thus, given the significant threats to UAE’s national security, the country should rapidly engage in developing and acquiring UAVs to help in neutralizing potential attacks on its soil.

Significance of The Research

The use of UAVs raises significant concerns amongst legal, policy, and advocacy agencies, particularly the international community. The primary issue regards the effects of armed drones on civilians (Olulowo 5). Thus, it is crucial to investigate the various legal issues governing the use of UAVs with regard to civilian safety to ensure that the UAE is not charged for committing crime against humanity were it to deploy drones in countering terrorism. This study offers significant implication regarding the application of drones in the UAE and other regions of the world.

Research Questions

This study sought to answer the following research questions:

  1. How effective are UAVs in the fight against terrorism?
  2. What challenges can the UAE encounter while using drones as a counterterrorism strategy?
  3. How might the international humanitarian law (IHL) interpret the deployment of UAVs in the UAE with regard to targeted killings and civilian casualties?

Structure/Outline of Report

The structure or outline of the research report is as follows:

  • Chapter one entails an overview of the research topic, a statement of the research problem, significance of the research, and research questions that guided the study.
  • Chapter two entails a review of related literature and studies that explore the research topic. The chapter starts with a historical background of the research topic. It also gives insight into the theoretical framework and current empirical literature exploring critical issues with regard to the research topic.
  • Chapter three presents the methodology used in the research and entails the research design, procedure, as well as data collection and analysis.
  • Chapter four digs into the research findings based on the research methodology applied and focuses on critical information collected.
  • Chapter five is majorly a discussion of the research findings as well as the limitations of the study.
  • Chapter six is about conclusion and recommendation. This chapter provides a summary of the research problem, the main findings and the discussion, as well as recommendations to benefit the research results and the direction of future research.

 

 

Chapter 2: Literature Review and Theoretical Framework

Historical Background

Terrorism is on the rise globally, and this continues to raise concern. Over the years, efforts to identify or come up with effective counterterrorism strategies have proven futile. However, research indicates that in recent years, UAVs have become a weapon of choice for several nations in the fight against terrorism. The UAE has joined other countries such as the U.S. in utilizing UAVs to counter terrorism, which is one of the biggest threats facing countries in the Middle East, particularly the Gulf States (see appendix B). Several scholars and researchers have focused on the issue of the use of UAVs in the fight against terrorism, with most revealing advantages of UAVs as a counterterrorism strategy.

Theoretical Framework

The study was informed was informed by the hypothetical underpinnings of the Just War Theory. The model explains the crime in taking human life, the role of nations in defending citizens and enhancing justice, and the morality of protecting civilian lives through the use of force and violence (“Just War”). The theory explains how a war can be justified and further stipulates how war should be fought. The theory was used to guide nations such as the UAE on the ways to act morally in their engagement of potential conflict situations.

Current Empirical Literature

Effectiveness of UAVs In the Fight Against Terrorism

Several scholars and research have investigated the use of drones in military operations and how effective they are in specific operations such as those aimed at fighting terrorism. According to Taylor & Francis, people have different opinions concerning the deployment of UAVs in countering terrorism. Many people believe that while unmanned aircraft play a key role in the elimination of key targets and helping to avoid friendly casualties, they are important in boosting the control of civilian populations by militias who can establish a siege mechanism (Taylor & Francis). In his investigation of the use, potential, and military implications of terrorist and insurgent UAVs, Bunker notes that UAVs are likely to be quite influential on how future forms of conventional warfighting are conducted. A major finding of the investigation concerns the insurgent use of drones by terrorists. Despite the various examples of attacks organized by extremists using unmanned aircraft, Bunker acknowledges the role of the technology in detecting, countering, and responding tactically to terrorist threats (Bunker 33). Intellectuals ascertain that armed drones are effective in combating terrorism is applied appropriately. However, in as much as the use of UAVs has been proven effective in the fight against terrorism, people should take note of possible weaknesses of the technology.

Challenges Encountered in The Use of Drones as A Counterterrorism Strategy

Several studies and literature explore the challenges associated with the use of drones as a counterterrorism strategy. Olulowo investigated the use of drones in counterterrorism and its implications for international law. In the investigation, Olulowo notes that if used appropriately, armed drones in military operations help to facilitate the attainment of zero collateral damage that is a requirement instituted by the International Humanitarian Law (IHL). However, the use of drones in military operations particularly in the fight against terrorism might be associated with an increased risk of excessive damage to the general public (Olulowo 41). Another scholar Bhattacharjee explored the application of UAVs in countering terrorism in South Asia and provided significant findings in this regard. According to Bhattacharjee, one of the most significant challenges in the use of UAVs in countering terrorism operations is that they are vulnerable to hacking and can be misused by people with sinister motives including terrorists (4). Another challenge is that the easy accessibility of UAVs makes the whole security system and structure quite volatile for many nations although none of the government in South Asia have opened up their skies for the use of UAVs for military operations (Bhattacharjee 3). Moreover, in the South Asian region in particular, there is the issue to do with geographical structure and overlapping borders. For nations that live with persistent misunderstandings and suspicions about and within one another, none would tolerate a drone belonging to another in its airspace (Bhattacharjee 3). For instance, it is difficult for Bangladesh to tolerate an Indian drone it its airspace.

Deployment of UAVs With Regard to Targeted Killing and Civilian Casualties

Scholars and researchers have also explored the use of UAVs in purposes such as targeted killing. Targeted killing refers to a process involving the elimination of an individual not under arrest or custody using lethal force. For targeted killing purposes, nations used manned fighter jets and helicopter gunships that were heavily criticized for not being able to distinguish between military targets and civilians. The use of manned fighter jets resulted in several civilian casualties prompting the use of other strategies such as UAVs in the post-9/11 era (Olulowo 1). There has been an increased deployment of UAVs for targeted killing purposes in recent years owing to its ability to reduce collateral damage and civilian casualties (Olulowo 1). Countries such as Egypt, Nigeria, Iraq, Pakistan, and Turkey have all utilized UAVs to conduct targeted strikes in their own domestic airspace. Unfortunately, targeted killing executed using UAVs has proven to be detrimental than a deterrent in most countries (Bhattacharjee 7). Many studies reveal that targeted killing using drones often has little or no effect on the reduction of terrorism. For instance, targeted killing has had some effect on Taliban violence in Pakistan but little or no effect on Taliban violence in Afghanistan (Bhattacharjee 7). Thus, there is a sufficient body of literature exploring the deployment of UAVs for targeted killing so as to reduce collateral damage and civilian casualties.

 

 

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

Research Design

The research used the case study research design. This research design calls for choosing cases or examples of the scenario to be studies and intensively exploring the attributes of those cases. Often, a case study design involves the selection of a small geographical area or a small number of individuals and having them as the subjects of the study. Essentially, case studies help in the exploration and investigation of contemporary real-life phenomena (Zainal 2). The achievement of this objective is through an extensive contextual analysis of a limited number of conditions or events as well as their relationships. There are several strengths and weaknesses of a case study design. Strengths include the fact that data examination is usually conducted with the context of its use; variations in the intrinsic, instrumental, and collective approaches to case studies enable both qualitative and quantitative data analyses; as well as the fact that real-life phenomena are examined (Zainal 4). Weaknesses of the case study design include accusations of lack of rigor; provision of little basis for scientific generalization; and the fact that they are long and difficult to conduct. See appendix A for design and procedures involved in case study research.

Procedure

The multiple-cased design was used in the study. The choice of the multiple-case design was because of the existence of numerous sources of evidence on the research topic. There was replication of the case through pattern-matching whereby several pieces of information from the same case were linked to a specific theoretical proposition. With the multiple-case design, the researchers managed to enhance and support previous findings on the topic. The selection of the multiple-case design took into account several factors. These factors included appropriateness to the research questions; viability in eliciting implicit and explicit data from subjects; whether the set of procedures with proper application was followed; and whether scientific conventions often utilized in social sciences were followed.

Data Collection and Analysis

Specific cases regarding the deployment of UAVs in military operations were selected for the study. For example, there was the selection of cases involving the use of armed drones by the U.S. soldiers to execute attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan. The researcher critically analyzed each of the selected sources to identify how effective the attacks were and the challenges encountered by various governments in using the UAV technology in the fight against terrorism. Cases involving civilian casualties and complaints by humanitarian groups regarding the adverse effects of armed drones on innocent citizens were also assessed. Moreover, the research relied on such cases as the attempted assassination of Venezuelan president, which presents a scenario of UAVs’ usage by extremists. Significant conclusions were drawn from the selected cases through coding and the findings were used to inform the study at hand.

 

 

Chapter 4: Research Results

One of the major findings of the study was in regard to the effectiveness of UAVs in the fight against terrorism. The study found that UAVs have enhanced and improved the global fight against terrorism in countries around the world. It also found that the UAV technology has been particularly important in countering terrorism that has been on the rise in the Middle East.

Another major finding of the study was regarding the challenges often encountered in the use of drones as a counterterrorism strategy. The study found that despite the benefits of UAVs, their use in countering often faces numerous challenges. One of the challenges revealed was the increased risk of excessive damage to the general public. The study also found that UAVs are often vulnerable to hacking and can be misused by people having sinister motives such as terrorists. The study also found that the system and structure surrounding the use of UAVs are quite volatile because of easy accessibility of UAVs (Orlowski). Another challenge revealed by the study was the conflicts that arise when it comes to geographical structures and overlapping borders.

The third major finding of the study had to do with the deployment of UAVs with regard to targeted killings and civilian casualties. The study found that there has been an increased deployment of UAVs for targeted killing purposes. However, the targeted killing executed using UAVs has had little or no effects on terrorism in certain areas.

 

 

Chapter 5: Discussion

One of the major findings of the study was that UAVs are effective as a counterterrorism strategy. The effectiveness of UAVs in the fight against terrorism can thus be applied to the case of the UAE that has adopted the technology to fight terrorism and enhance national security. As seen in several other cases, UAVs can help UAE to fight terrorism given its importance in boosting the control of civilian populations by militias who can establish a siege mechanism (Taylor & Francis). The UAE can also benefit from UAVs given their role in detecting, countering, and responding tactically to terrorist threats (Bunker 33). The most important thing for UAE authorities if they are to achieve the desired effectiveness is appropriate application of the UAV technology.

The second major finding of the study was that the use of UAVs as a counterterrorism strategy encounters numerous challenges. In as much as UAVs can help the UAE in its counterterrorism objectives, the risk of excessive damage to the general public is highly likely (Olulowo 41). UAVs are often used in specific populations but civilian casualties may be witnessed in the event of difficulty to distinguish the specific target from non-targeted individuals. As the UAE continues to adopt UAVs, it must take into account the technology’s increased vulnerability to hacking and misuse by terrorists in particular (Bhattacharjee 4). The technology is operated by software that can be easily hacked resulting in adverse implications for authorities controlling or operating the same.

The third major finding of the study was that there has been an increased deployment of UAVs for targeted killing purposes although this has had little or no effects on terrorism in certain areas. The UAE has joined other countries such as the U.S. in deploying UAVs for targeted killing. However, the UAE should be wary of the little or no impact of targeted killing using UAVs on terrorism as witnessed in other countries (Bhattacharjee 7). Thus, the UAE must come up with other strategies in addition to the use of UAVs in its objective to counter terrorism that is on the rise not only in the Middle East but globally.

 

 

Chapter 6: Conclusion and Recommendations

Summary of Research Problem, Main Findings, and Discussion

The use of UAVs as a counterterrorism strategy is on the rise. The UAE has also adopted the technology as it seeks to counter the rising threat of terrorism. UAVs could be important to the UAE to neutralize the significant threats to its national security although it must be wary of the challenges that might be encountered. A major finding of this study is that UAVs are effective as a counterterrorism strategy. Thus, it can be applied in the case of the UAE given its importance in boosting the control of civilian populations by militias who can establish a siege mechanism and potential benefits in terms of detecting, countering, and responding tactically to terrorist threats. The second key finding is that the use of UAVs can encounter numerous challenges. Thus, the UAE must be wary of these challenges as it adopts the technology as a counterterrorism strategy. The third finding is that there is an increased deployment of UAVs for targeted killing. The UAE has deployed UAVs for this purpose although this should be in addition to other strategies as UAVs alone may have little or no impact on terrorism.

Research Implications

The findings of the research respond to the research questions and help to achieve the objectives of the research. The implication of the research findings is that UAE should invest heavily on UAV technology to protect national security and neutralize the rising threat of terrorism in the Gulf region.

Limitations

A limitation of the study was the focus on cases outside Asia and the Middle East such as the U.S., which are not a true reflection of what the UAE might encounter as it seeks to adopt UAV technology to counterterrorism.

Future Research Recommendations

For future research, this study’s findings could serve as a basis for building future research. There are some gaps in this study that should be filled by future research. Future research should focus on obtaining information or insight using other research designs to ensure the validity and reliability of outcomes.

 

 

Works Cited

“Just War-Introduction.” BBC, 2014, www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/war/just/introduction.shtml. Accessed 30 May 2020.

“The Internal Security of the United Arab Emirates: A Priority.” Security & Defense Magazine, 4 April 2015, sd-magazine.com/strategie-et-politique/the-internal-security-of-the-united-arab-emirates-a-priority. Accessed 30 May 2020.

“The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy.” EveryCRSReport, 3 Mar. 2020, www.everycrsreport.com/reports/RS21852.html. Accessed 30 May 2020.

“United Arab Emirates.” RUSI, 2020, drones.rusi.org/countries/united-arab-emirates. Accessed 30 May 2020.

Aldroubi, Mina. “Yemen Houthis’ Threats to Attack UAE and Saudi Arabia ‘Come from Iran.’” The National, 23 Apr. 2020, www.thenational.ae/world/mena/yemen-houthis-threats-to-attack-uae-and-saudi-arabia-come-from-iran-1.852797. Accessed 31 May 2020

Bhattacharjee, Dhrubajyoti.  “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Counter Terrorism Operations.” Issue Brief, 2015, pp. 1-11.

Bunker, Robert J. Terrorist and Insurgent Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Use, Potential, and Military Implications. Strategic Studies Institute, 2015.

Farrow, Alexander. “Drone Warfare as a Military Instrument of Counterterrorism Strategy.” Air & Space Power Journal, pp. 4-12.

Ibish, Hussein. “The UAE’s Evolving National Security Strategy.” Issue Paper, no. 4, 2017, pp. 1-51.

Olulowo, Kunle A. “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Counterterrorism Efforts and Implications for International Humanitarian Law.” (Doctoral dissertation, Walden University), 2018, pp. 1-168.

Orlowski, Ralph. “Drone Terrorism Is Now a Reality, and We Need a Plan to Counter the Threat.” World Economic Forum, 20 Aug. 2018, www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/08/drone-terrorism-is-now-a-reality-and-we-need-a-plan-to-counter-the-threat. Accessed 30 May 2020.

Shinkman, Paul D. “Iran Issues Veiled Threat to UAE of Attacks Similar to Saudi Oil Strikes.” U.S. News, 17 Sept. 2019, www.usnews.com/news/world-report/articles/2019-09-17/iran-issues-veiled-threat-to-uae-of-attacks-similar-to-saudi-oil-strikes. Accessed 30 May 2020.

Tabrizi, Aniseh B., and Justin Bronk. “Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region.” RUSI Occasional Paper, 2018, pp. 1-43.

Taylor & Francis. “New Research Questions Effectiveness of Drones in Fight against Terrorism and Highlights Growing Opposition to Their Use.” Science Daily, 13 Jan. 2014, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140113100531.htm. Accessed 30 May 2020.

Zainal, Zaidah. “Case Study as a Research Method.” Jurnal Kemanusiaan, vol. 9, 2007, pp. 1-6.

 

 

Appendices

Appendix A: Case Study Research Design and Procedures

 

 

Appendix B: Gulf States