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Drones Programs: A Techno-Legal Machinery Extending Warfare and Exacerbating State Power

Dates:
  • Fri 11 Dec 2020 15.30 - 17.30
  Add to Calendar 2020-12-11 15:30 2020-12-11 17:30 Europe/Paris Drones Programs: A Techno-Legal Machinery Extending Warfare and Exacerbating State Power

There is something special about drones. At the core of this doctoral thesis is the idea that the technological characteristics of drones have been instrumental in the socio-legal phenomena that has taken place since 9/11. This is what distinguishes my work from most of the existing literature on the subject, which considers drones to be just like any other (discriminate) weapon, that is, not special at all. This thesis demonstrates that drone program—consisting of a network of interacting factors including the legal rationales developed by states to support their use, and the type of enemy that drones target, but also their technological capabilities—facilitated and accelerated the emergence of a new kind of warfare. This new model of warfare is individualized and de-materialized in the sense that it focuses on threat anticipation and thus consists in identifying dangerous figures (individualized warfare) rather than responding to acts of hostilities (material warfare). Because of this objective to anticipate, the war on terror presents an extensive timeframe and geographical scope, sometimes to such an extent that it becomes implemented in the normal functioning of the state, as it appears to be the case for the United States. In such scenario where drone programs are institutionalized, the thesis illustrates that drone programs have profound consequences for state power, as the operating state employs them in rituals of sovereignty over the populations living, quite literally, under drones. The thesis proposes a theoretical analysis of the law and its functions in this equation. It emerges from the thesis that legal rationales articulated for the development of their drone program in a durable manner by the United States—followed to certain extents by France and the UK—never claimed to produce a scientific discourse or a regime of truth about what the content of the norms is. Instead, there is at the foundation of these states’ legal rhetoric a commitment to the historicity of law, defined as the idea that norms and their open-texture encapsulate possibilities for struggles and disagreements about their interpretation that are and will always be necessarily embedded in specific contexts and depend on contemporary goals and tactics. Against this background, the thesis shows that these states exploit the semantic possibilities of the norms and their uncertainties to such an extent that their rationale resets the limits and reshape the contents of key conceptual differentiations and oppositions (combatant/civilian, criminal/enemy, status/conduct, battlefield/non-battlefield). This suddenly makes very salient the boundaries of the norms and the fact that they are premised on, if not equal enmity, at least mutual acceptance. Such preconditions appear to be at odds with the infinite enmity characterizing the relationship between states and jihadist groups. 

To receive the Zoom details please REGISTER HERE by Thursday, 10 December by 16:00

Outside EUI premises - ZOOM DD/MM/YYYY
  Outside EUI premises - ZOOM

There is something special about drones. At the core of this doctoral thesis is the idea that the technological characteristics of drones have been instrumental in the socio-legal phenomena that has taken place since 9/11. This is what distinguishes my work from most of the existing literature on the subject, which considers drones to be just like any other (discriminate) weapon, that is, not special at all. This thesis demonstrates that drone program—consisting of a network of interacting factors including the legal rationales developed by states to support their use, and the type of enemy that drones target, but also their technological capabilities—facilitated and accelerated the emergence of a new kind of warfare. This new model of warfare is individualized and de-materialized in the sense that it focuses on threat anticipation and thus consists in identifying dangerous figures (individualized warfare) rather than responding to acts of hostilities (material warfare). Because of this objective to anticipate, the war on terror presents an extensive timeframe and geographical scope, sometimes to such an extent that it becomes implemented in the normal functioning of the state, as it appears to be the case for the United States. In such scenario where drone programs are institutionalized, the thesis illustrates that drone programs have profound consequences for state power, as the operating state employs them in rituals of sovereignty over the populations living, quite literally, under drones. The thesis proposes a theoretical analysis of the law and its functions in this equation. It emerges from the thesis that legal rationales articulated for the development of their drone program in a durable manner by the United States—followed to certain extents by France and the UK—never claimed to produce a scientific discourse or a regime of truth about what the content of the norms is. Instead, there is at the foundation of these states’ legal rhetoric a commitment to the historicity of law, defined as the idea that norms and their open-texture encapsulate possibilities for struggles and disagreements about their interpretation that are and will always be necessarily embedded in specific contexts and depend on contemporary goals and tactics. Against this background, the thesis shows that these states exploit the semantic possibilities of the norms and their uncertainties to such an extent that their rationale resets the limits and reshape the contents of key conceptual differentiations and oppositions (combatant/civilian, criminal/enemy, status/conduct, battlefield/non-battlefield). This suddenly makes very salient the boundaries of the norms and the fact that they are premised on, if not equal enmity, at least mutual acceptance. Such preconditions appear to be at odds with the infinite enmity characterizing the relationship between states and jihadist groups. 

To receive the Zoom details please REGISTER HERE by Thursday, 10 December by 16:00


Location:
Outside EUI premises - ZOOM

Affiliation:
Department of Law

Type:
Thesis defence

Contact:
Valeria Raso - Send a mail

Defendant:
Rebecca Shiva Mignot-Mahdavi (EUI - Law)

Supervisor:
Prof. Nehal Bhuta (EUI - Department of Law)

Co-Supervisor:
Prof. Loïc Azoulai (SciencePo, École de Droit)

Examiner:
Sara Kendall
Prof. Claus Kress (University of Cologne)

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