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45 nations sign declaration on export, use of armed and strike-enabled drones

Declaration stresses importance of responsible export and adherence to international law.

By Geoff Ziezulewicz
45 nations sign declaration on export, use of armed and strike-enabled drones
The United States and 44 other countries issued a joint declaration Thursday regarding the responsible export of armed and strike-enabled drones, the State Department announced. Pictured, the U.S. Air Force's MQ-9 Reaper. U.S. Air Force photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The United States and 44 other countries issued a joint declaration Thursday regarding the responsible export of armed and strike-enabled drones, the State Department announced.

With an increasing number of countries employing drones for a range of missions, and while many states already have restrictions in place, this week's declaration aimed to formally recognize certain principles regarding the future of the new vehicles, the State Department release said.

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"Recognizing that misuse of armed or strike-enabled [drones] could fuel conflict and instability, and facilitate terrorism and organized crime, the international community must take appropriate transparency measures to ensure the responsible export and subsequent use of these systems," the declaration said.

The declaration said none of the principles were meant to undermine a country's legitimate interest in producing, exporting or acquiring such systems.

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Principles laid out in the declaration include ensuring that international law, including the law of armed conflict and the international human rights law are applied to the use of such drone systems; the importance of engaging in responsible armed or strike-enabled drone exports in line with international arms control and disarmament norms; exporting drones consistent with existing multilateral export control and non-proliferation regimes; and the importance of voluntary transparency via such exports.

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The signatories pledged to continue discussing how such capabilities are transferred and used responsibly.

The declaration was issued by the United States and the governments of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

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