Birmingham academics present research findings in Parliament

On Tuesday 16th June, leading academics from the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS) and the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) were invited to present their findings from the ESRC-funded research project on 'The Political Effects of UAVs' to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drones (APPG) in Westminster.

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The University of Birmingham delegation was led by Professor Nicholas J. Wheeler (Director, ICCS) and included Professor David H. Dunn (Head, POLSIS), and Dr Talat Farooq (Honorary Research Fellow, ICCS) who last year carried out extensive fieldwork on the impact of US drone strikes in Pakistan. The APPG meeting (the first of the new parliament) was chaired by Baroness Stern.

The presentations outlined the project, which involves ongoing comparative research in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen to explore how the use and perception of drones shape the propensities for conflict and cooperation within and between states, with a particular  focus on the complexities of drone use in politically highly unstable environments.

The meeting followed on from a day-long conference at the Royal Aeronautical Society on Friday 12th June, at which the panel considered the interim findings of their research and implications for the future. The research challenges the dominant narrative on UAVs and will contribute to understanding the impact of drone use abroad.

The ICCS has established significant expertise in the development and uses of drone technologies, focusing both on the security implications of military deployment, and also how drones can be used in civilian, commercial, and humanitarian operations. In 2014, the university published the Birmingham Policy Commission on 'The Security Impact of Drones', chaired by Sir David Omand, the UK's first Security and Intelligence Coordinator and a former Director of GCHQ. The Commission’s academic lead was Nicholas J Wheeler, and included several senior members of the ICCS and POLSIS, including David H Dunn, Professor Mark Webber, Professor Stefan Wolff, and Peter Gray (War Studies).

A report on the 12th June conference will be published at the end of July 2015.