The Government’s policy on the use of drones for targeted killing Contents


Standing orders


1 Introduction


Our inquiry

The threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh

The implications of drone technology

The context: a new situation

Why it matters

The importance of the rule of law

The risk of criminal prosecution

The Government’s engagement with our inquiry

The scope of our Report

2 The Government’s policy


A “new departure”

Conflicting messages about “armed conflict”


The significance of the constitutional convention to consult Parliament

Lethal force abroad outside of armed conflict


3 Legal Basis


The Government’s understanding of the legal position

The right of self-defence in international law

The meaning of “armed attack”

The meaning of “imminence”

Other relevant international law frameworks

The Law of War

When does the Law of War apply?

What does the Law of War require?

The US and UK positions on the applicability of the Law of War

The European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”)

When does the ECHR apply?

What does the ECHR require?

ECHR may require the use of lethal force to protect life

Flexibility inherent in concepts of necessity and proportionality

The legal basis for UK support of US lethal force outside armed conflict


4 The decision-making process


The Government’s account of the process

Concerns about the transparency of the current process

The published US policy

Clarifications needed about the decision-making process

Is there a “kill list”?

Legal advice


5 Accountability


Implications of the ECHR applying

Coroner’s inquest?

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal

The Intelligence and Security Committee

Automatic referral


Independent Legal advice

Legal accountability

6 Developing international consensus

The international rule of law dimension

The UK’s lack of international engagement to date

UN initiatives

Council of Europe initiatives

Time for leadership

Conclusions and recommendations

Declaration of Lords’ interests

Formal Minutes


Published written evidence

List of Reports from the Committee during the current Parliament

Annex 1: The Relevant Legal Frameworks

Annex 2: Flowcharts for assessing the lawfulness of the use of lethal force abroad

Annex 3: Law of War and Human Rights Law compared

Annex 4: The U.S. Policy

© Parliamentary copyright

9 May 2016