Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Canada, other countries make joint call for clearer rules on armed drones

An unmanned aerial vehicle, armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, performs a low altitude pass during the Aviation Nation 2005 air show at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada in this Nov. 13, 2005.


Canada has joined dozens of other countries in calling for clearer rules around the sale and use of armed drones, even as the government debates whether the Canadian military should acquire such weapons.

The U.S. State Department has released a joint declaration, signed by Canada and 44 other countries, laying out five general principles on the export and use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.

The principles are expected to be a starting point for establishing clear and definitive rules and standards to govern an increasingly common weapon used by militaries around the world.

Story continues below advertisement

Yet while Canada is endorsing the declaration, it remains unclear if it will buy armed drones in the near future, despite years of research and support from senior military leaders.

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance told a Senate committee earlier this year that the military needs armed drones, saying there is little point in having UAVs to spot danger if they aren't able to strike that danger.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's office will only say that the Liberal government is considering whether to acquire armed drones as part of its defence policy review.

A new defence policy is expected early next year.

The use of armed drones has been controversial in recent years, with the U.S. using them in attacks on terrorist leaders around the world. While military commanders laud their ability to conduct pinpoint strikes, they have also been linked to a number of civilian deaths.

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨