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The University of Southampton

Research into the ethics of drone violence receives major EU funding boost

Published: 3 January 2018
Drone used in warfare
Professor Enemark will open a moral inquiry into drone violence.

University of Southampton Professor Christian Enemark is amongst top researchers from across Europe to receive major funding in the latest Consolidator Grants announced as part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.

Professor Enemark’s award of €1.36 million over four years will be focused on researching Emergent Ethics of Drone Violence: Toward a Comprehensive Governance Framework (DRONETHICS).

Professor Enemark intends to open a moral inquiry into drone violence, defined as violence involving a weapon system that is radically remote from its immediate user. Drawing from international relations, moral philosophy and computer science, he and his colleagues will develop an integrated framework to provide a new normative vision of drone violence. This would be the first analytical tool for comprehensively assessing ethical concerns related to drone violence and providing recommendations for policy makers.

“Traditionally, war has involved exposure to physical risk and proximity to an enemy,” explains Enemark, Professor of International Relations at the University of Southampton. “However, new military technology, including the increasing use of armed, unmanned aircraft also known as drones, controlled remotely, possibly by artificial intelligence, is now challenging understandings of modern warfare. In this context, the violent use of drones raises ethical questions, as human lives are at stake in a practice that escapes conventional ways of governing war.”

Enemark added: “I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue this fascinating project. The use of armed drones is an issue of growing importance for people and politicians in Europe and beyond.”

The European Research Council (ERC) Horizon 2020 programme is supporting 329 new grants worth €630 million in this latest round of funding. The programme is aimed at boosting the EU's scientific excellence and competitiveness, contributing to increasing the EU's attractiveness as a place for research and innovation.

The ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to outstanding researchers of any nationality and age, with at least seven and up to twelve years of experience after PhD, and a scientific track record showing great promise.

Research must be conducted in a public or private research organisation located in one of the EU Member States or Associated Countries. The funding (maximum of €2 million per grant), is provided for up to five years and mostly covers the employment of researchers and other staff to consolidate the grantees' teams. 


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