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Nigeria’s Private Army: A perception study of private military contractors in the war against Boko Haram

Commissioned by the Remote Control project, the Nigeria Security Network carried out a perception study into the use of private military contractors.  The study suggests that the majority of Nigerians support using private military contractors to fight Boko Haram. However, within the minority that oppose their use, some expressed opinions that could be vulnerable to manipulation […]

Hostile drones: The hostile use of drones by non-state actors against British targets

Commissioned by the Remote Control project this report from Open Briefing examines the design and capabilities of over 200 current and upcoming unmanned aerial, ground and marine systems, providing analysis of the specifications that would affect their threat to potential targets, including payload, range and imaging capabilities.

The report then goes on to assess known drone use by non-state groups, including terrorist organisations, insurgent groups, organised crime groups, corporations and activists, before outlining recommendations to mitigate these threats, including specific regulatory, passive and active countermeasures.

Tear gassing by remote control: The development and promotion of remotely operated means of delivering or dispersing riot control agents

Commissioned by the Remote Control project this report from by the Omega Research Foundation and Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project, looks at the development and promotion of “remote control” riot control systems.

The report highlights the States and companies that have developed and promoted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – drones, unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) and other remotely operated systems for delivering tear gas or other so-called “less-lethal” weapons. The report has found that there is inadequate regulation of “remote control” means of delivery of riot control agents (RCAs) (tear gasses) and that they could be at risk of being misused by both State and non-State actors. The report concludes that it is critical for the international community to determine constraints upon these devices under international and regional human rights law to guard against misuse. The report sets out specific recommendations for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to ensure effective regulation.

Mass surveillance: security by ‘remote control’ – consequences and effectiveness

This briefing paper, by the Remote Control project, looks at the implications and effectiveness of mass surveillance as a counter-terrorism strategy following the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013.

The briefing finds that mass surveillance programmes are leading to a number of unforeseen consequences, including the proliferation of surveillance technologies to authoritarian regimes, a decrease in public trust in government and the weakening of internet security. As well as this, doubts over the ability of mass surveillance to thwart terror plots have also been found.

The Impact of Drone Attacks on Terrorism: The Case of Pakistan

Commissioned by the Remote Control project this report from Dr Paul Gill of University College London looks at the relationship between drone strikes and terrorism in Pakistan.

The report analyses data on drone strikes and terrorist attacks in Pakistan between 2004 and 2013 at the monthly, weekly and daily levels to establish whether targeted killing by drone strikes result in an increase or decrease in subsequent terrorist attacks and whether what happened in each drone and terrorist attack (who is killed and how many) has an impact. The report finds there to be a complex relationship between targeted killing by drones and subsequent terrorist attacks. It also finds that violent responses to drone strikes by terrorist groups are disproportionately more likely to target civilians, suggesting that drone strikes are having a cumulative effect on civilian casualties in terms of indirect victims.

Securing change: Recommendations for the British government regarding remote-control warfare

Commissioned by the Remote Control project this report from Open Briefing analyses the main trends in the five key areas of remote-control warfare in the past 6 months.

The report looks at the unintended consequences of remote warfare and makes 31 specific recommendations for the new British government. What is ultimately needed, it argues, is a comprehensive rethink of defence and security strategy and a move away from remote-control warfare towards more enduring, accountable and effective responses to today’s multiple security threats.

Remote Warfare (RW): developing a framework for evaluating its use

Commissioned by the Remote Control Project this report from Dr Jon Moran of the University of Leicester (Department of Politics and International Relations) looks at remote warfare from a historical context and evaluates its ethics and effectiveness when used by the UK in conflicts today.

The report finds that the lack of a UK security strategy has led to the use of remote warfare by the UK in a number of overseas conflicts as a ‘stop gap’, rather than as part of a coherent strategy. The report also warns that remote warfare, whilst a successful tactic in some cases, is often counter-productive and ineffective. The report – which evaluates how remote warfare is carried out by the British in Sierra Leone (1990s), Afghanistan (2001-2002 and 2009), Libya (2011), and Mali (2012) – reveals a number of worrying consequences of remote warfare including destabilising countries, spreading or prolonging conflicts and the danger of a ‘forever war’ scenario whereby warfare is pursued on an ongoing basis with no end.

Floating Armouries: Implications and risks

Commissioned by the Remote Control Project this report from Omega Research Foundation looks at the operation and use of floating armouries, increasingly used by Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs) to store and transfer weapons for use in maritime security.

The report finds that floating armouries, moored in international waters, operate in a ‘legal grey area’ resulting in a severe lack of legal oversight and, in some cases, are subject only to the regulations of the state in which the vessel is registered. The report concludes that coordinated international action is required to address the worrying lack of regulation regarding the operation and use of floating armouries and calls on individual governments and relevant multi-lateral bodies to take action to address immediate issues.

Cyberspace: An Assessment of Current Threats, Real Consequences and Potential Solutions

Commissioned by the Remote Control Project this report from VERTIC seeks to examine the role of cyber attacks in remote control warfare, and considers the potential impact of cyber attacks on civilian populations and on future international stability.

The report finds that cyber security is becoming increasingly important to states’ national security strategies. However, the hyperbolic language used to describe the potential consequences of cyber attacks, compounded by a lack of reliable, concrete information on the real risks posed by cyber threats, has contributed to the securitisation of the debate around cyber security issues leading to possible dangers being overestimated. The report highlights that state reactions to these perceived risks may have negative implications, including increased surveillance on citizens and the emergence of a ‘cyber arms race’.