Skip to main content

Institutionalized Drone Programs: Rituals of Sovereignty



Moot Court Room, Old College, South Bridge EH8 9YL


Tue 14 January 2020

Rebecca Mignot-Mahdavi, Researcher, Asser Institute, The Hague

Institutionalized Drone Programs: Rituals of Sovereignty

The unique effects that drone programs have on sovereignty have been neglected and underestimated in international legal scholarship. This can mostly be explained by how the technicalities of drone programs – in particular their permanent but discrete surveillance mechanisms – hide the expansion of state power that they allow. During this talk, Rebecca Mignot-Mahdavi, Researcher in International Law and Counter-Terrorism at the T.M.C. Asser Institute, will dissect the tangible processes through which drone programs disrupt principles of equal sovereignty and territorial integrity, distinctions between battlefield and non-battlefield, enemy and criminal. She will explain how drone programs can be considered to encapsulate techniques of government, understood as the means through which a state, or more broadly an authority, shapes the conduct of individuals. Besides, because these techniques of government are deployed extraterritorially, they create special interactions between the foreign and territorial sovereigns, and between the sovereigns and individuals living under drones. In an attempt to grasp these phenomena, the presentation will propose a conceptualization of drone programs as disciplinary mechanisms used by operating states over the community of sovereigns, through the bodies of individuals.

Photo by Paola Aguilar on Unsplash