Unmanned aircraft system
An unmanned aircraft system (UAS), also referred to as a unmanned aerial system, consists of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, along with its ground support and communications systems. Missions currently use both UAS deployed through commercial contract as well as UAS deployed by troop- or police-contributing countries as contingent-owned equipment.
In 2013, UAS were deployed in peacekeeping for the first time in MONUSCO following an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council. The introduction of UAS in peacekeeping was highly contentious, with strong objections from many stakeholders, including some host countries, neighbouring countries and troop- and police-contributing countries about United Nations surveillance of their activities and about the use and safeguarding of data.
Concerns about the use UAS were key sticking points in deliberations in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and Fifth Committee in the years immediately following the introduction of UAS in peacekeeping. Within the C34, the term "modern technology" was used as a code word for UAS, as the NAM insisted in noting concerns about UAS while Western countries wanted to avoid any text specifically targeting UAS. The 2014 report of the C34 requested from the Secretary-General information and policy developments on the use of new technology, including lessons-learned from the operation of UAS in MONUSCO. The requested information was presented in the annex to the subsequent report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of C34 recommendations.
In the Fifth Committee, an attempt by the G77 and Russia in 2013 to block the deployment of further UAS through policy language in mission budgets was addressed through compromise language permitting the Secretary-General to deploy UAS taking into account "any lessons learned from the use of unmanned aerial systems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo".
By 2015, the use of UAS had become more accepted. As noted in 69/307 on cross-cutting issues for the 2015/16 budget, the General Assembly merely requested the Secretary-General "to ensure consistency, transparency and cost-efficiency in the budgeting for unmanned aerial systems in individual peacekeeping operation budget proposals in this regard, including by presenting expected accomplishments and indicators of achievement, as well as information on outputs, as appropriate, in the context of the results-based budget framework". And in 2017, the Working Group on Contingent-Owned Equipment added UAS to the list of equipment in the COE manual, noting:
Unmanned aerial systems are increasingly being deployed to United Nations peacekeeping missions. Their primary tasks are gathering aerial data and geospatial information for the peacekeeping mission and providing invaluable information for many operational contexts. Because of their flexibility and diversity, they can be tailored to fit many different tasks within every mission and for all components.
Use of UAS in peacekeeping missions
To date, UAS have been deployed in MONUSCO, MINUSMA and MINUSCA. Since 2017, the General Assembly has been provided a summary of current and planned deployment of UAS as an annex to the peacekeeping overview report.
|Financial period||Overview report|
|2017/18||A/71/809, Annex IX|
|2018/19||A/72/770, Annex IX|
|2019/20||A/73/776, Annex III|
|2020/21||A/74/736, Annex III|