UN Drones Over the Congo: BAD IDEA

by Joe Scarry

Ban Kyi-moon announced United Nations plans to acquire drones several months ago. There are now reports that the UN has deployed drones in the Congo, in the area near Rwanda. (See ReutersU.N. forces use drones for first time, in eastern Congo)

This is a bad idea for at least three reasons.

First, the UN has a conflict of interest over drones.

There is a demand on the table that the United States, at a minimum, provide a full accounting of all its drone attacks, preparatory to an evaluation of the criminal nature of some or all of those attacks.

It is not possible for the UN to forcefully press its case for US drones accountability at the very same moment that it is joining the “drones club.”

Second, “just a few” UN surveillance drones will be the foot-in-the-door for US drone warfare down the line.

Remember, the UN doesn’t have troops of its own; the minute there is talk of “UN peacekeeping” that really means the introduction of the military forces of one or more member states — usually the US.

The United States is rapidly expanding its military involvement in Africa. The UN should give it neither pretexts or platforms for that involvement.

The Congo is a place that the United States would like to gain leverage over — ideally under the guise of third-party activity. (See the map by Nick Turse, and read more about US expansion in Africa in Mother Jones, “The Startling Size of US Military Operations in Africa”.)

Third, surveillance isn’t “harmless.”

Photo: ReutersU.N. forces use drones for first time, in eastern Congo

Drone surveillance, like drone injury, is part and parcel of an overall phenomenon of watching, recording, categorizing, judging, disrupting, injuring — amounting to a war on communities of color.

It is time for the United Nations to take a hard look at this broad phenomenon, and the specific role of drones in it.

We need to speak up against the expansion of the drone wars into the Congo.

Related posts

To those of us who have worked hard to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, it is flabbergasting to see reports that U.S. officials see a “need” for someplace else to send troops and material: apparently, there’s no such thing as demobilization, only re-deployment.

(See AFRICOM: The Heart of Darkness)

A new U.N. report makes it clear that the U.S. has to report fully on all its drone attacks.

(See 2014: The Year of Transparency (for U.S. Drone Use)?)

The biggest idea coming out of the 2013 Drone Summit? We will only deal successfully with the crimes being committed using drones when we understand them as part of the much larger war against communities of color . . . .

(See Drone Gaze,

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