[CITASA] panel on drones for ICA

Philip N. Howard pnhoward at uw.edu
Sun May 4 10:09:56 EDT 2014

Dear CITASA:  I know some of you go to the International Studies Association, and my colleague Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick is putting together a panel on drones and humanitarian strategy.  Anybody interested in joining?  Pitch a paper idea his way choifitza at ceu.hu<mailto:choifitza at ceu.hu>.

Dr. Philip N. Howard
Professor, University of Washington
Professor, Central European University

International Studies Association
2015 Proposed Panel

Unmanned Rights: Drone Use by Civil Society

Chair:                  Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, Central European University (CEU)
Discussant:        Phil Howard, University of Washington and CEU
Deadline:           May 25, 2014                   (ISA 2015 takes place in mid-February, 2015)

Unmanned areal vehicles ("drones") are the subject of increasing attention in public, policy and commercial arenas. Yet the bulk of this attention has remained focused on two debates. One is focused on how the state should regulate unmanned areal vehicles (UAV) used for commercial purposes. The second is what should be done about the use of UAVs for military purposes. This panel is meant to open a third line of inquiry and debate related to the use of drones by civil society actors.

Civil society issues and opportunities abound.
-             With regard to ethics there is the question of where the balance-point lies between privacy and transparency. UAV's ease of control puts cameras beyond prior technical constraints and legal precedents. Conversely, this flexibility opens a new arena for state and corporate accountability. This creates a tension between the privacy of individuals and citizens' ability to hold the state accountable.
-             With regard to technology, the emergence of UAVs as platforms suggests a wide range of uses, from payload delivery (of relief supplies or anti-retrovirals), to digital imaging (of police crackdown on protestors or the monitoring of event size), to device deployment (of radiation monitoring devices), to tracking (of protected wildlife or lost hikers).
-             With regard to public policy and human rights advocacy, it is clear that contemporary debates on military strikes on civilians and militants have narrowed the focus to the ethics and legality of delivering one particular payload (weapons) deployed by one particular actor (the military). This critical debate is mapping uncertain and unprecedented legal terrain. Sophisticated policymaking is required in order to prevent the state from legitimating military use of drones and regulating commercial use while restricting civil society use.

This panel invites submissions that explore the way this technological innovation intersects with ethical considerations and regulatory environs to effect opportunities for civil society. Submissions may include conceptual, legal, or technical explorations, including:
-             Monitoring of development projects, natural disasters
-             Transparency and accountability in governance
-             Social movements, protests and revolution
-             Monitoring human rights abuse, piracy
-             Refugees, migration, trafficking
-             Search and rescue operations
-             Corporate accountability
-             Privacy, ethics and law
-             Citizen journalism

Submissions (title, abstract, contact info) and questions to:
Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick
Assistant Professor of Political Sociology
School of Public Policy
Central European University
choifitza at ceu.hu
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