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Human Rights Council to Discuss the Use of Drones

6 March 2014

A groundbreaking initiative tabled by Pakistan in this session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) proposes to have a panel discussion about the use of armed drones in the counter-terrorism and military operations as recommended by the Special Rapporteur on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

A Timely Initiative

WILPF welcomes this initiative to discuss the impact of the use of drones on human rights.

Example of a military drone
Military drone. Taken from Flickr/Serritelli.

Drones have killed many civilians and  their use constantly violates the right to life, the right to freedom of movement and indirectly affects many other rights such as socio-economic rights and the right to development.

This measure is in line with past discussions in the Council such as the resolution on the impact of arms transfer on the human rights of people living under conflict and the report from the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings on Fully Autonomous Weapons, also called Killer Robots.

After these discussions, we would think that the debate about whether the HRC is an appropriate forum to discuss the use of weapons and its human rights implications would be settled. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case.

Supporters and Opposers

In the first round of informal discussions, numerous countries expressed their support for this initiative and many specifically supported the fact that the HRC increasingly discusses the human rights consequences of the use of weapons.

There were, however, some members, such as the EU, who questioned whether this was the right forum and whether this was a matter of human rights. The UK went even further and claimed that International Humanitarian Law (IHL), not human rights, should govern the use of drones as they are used as part of an armed conflict. Thus, they claimed, the debate goes beyond the scope of the Council.

However, drones can be used and are indeed used today in countries which are not declared to be in conflict, such as Yemen. Furthermore, even if a drone is used in a country under armed conflict, human rights do not cease to be applicable, as human rights are universal and irrevocable in space and time.

WILPF will be monitoring the discussions in the HRC and we will continue to engage in defending the importance of a human rights approach when discussing the use of drones, as we are doing with Killer Robots.

To learn more about the use of military drones read this fact-sheet by Reaching Critical Will (RCW).

To stay informed about this and other discussions at the Human Rights Council, sign up to our HRC newsletter!

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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