Drones as an Instrument of U.S. Foreign Policy

International Drones Policy Paper

November 17, 2014


Why we produced this paper

This paper aims to advance MPAC’s commitment to represent and advocate on behalf of the American Muslim community in order to establish policy positions on the international use of drones. As drones have been used exclusively in Muslim-majority countries and even used to target Americans, there is an urgent need to analyze the use of drones and advocate for changes in how they are being used by the U.S. government.

This paper focuses specifically on the U.S government’s drone program post-9/11 by analyzing the history, public perception, and international law considerations around the use of drones.

Key findings

  • The use of drones has increased during President Obama’s tenure without congressional or judicial oversight.
  • Proponents of drones argue that they target specific individuals, eliminate the need for ground troops, and minimize civilian casualties.
  • Critics of drone strikes argue that strikes lead to high civilian casualties, there is minimal oversight in the targeting process, and they inflame anti-American sentiment abroad.
  • The current drone program provides little transparency over who is targeted or why, with too much reliance on Executive level decision-making.
  • The targeted killings overseas of individuals—especially American citizens—appears to violate both domestic and international law.


Based on these findings, MPAC recommends five policy prescriptions to address the international use of drones.

  1. Judicial oversight 
    A Drone Court should be established to oversee the targeting process.
  2. Congressional oversight 
    Regular briefings about drone targets should be made along with congressional authorization to conduct strikes.
  3. Greater transparency and selective use of drones
    Drone strikes should only be used in extraordinary circumstances.
  4. International agreement on drones 
    An international convention should be held to regulate drone usage.
  5. Congressional commission on drones 
    A Congressional Commission should be established to systematically evaluate the efficacy of drones and provide additional policy recommendations.


Note: The information in this report is current as of July 2014.



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