In 2017, Article 36 commenced a collaboration with sociologists at the University of Liverpool to look at the changing character of law in war, and the role that legal considerations play in decisions around targeting and the use of force.

We came together as a result of a shared interest in exploring ‘actually existing’ practice around the use of armed drones, more specifically the situated practices of legal reasoning engaged in by military personnel to justify drone strikes in theatre – an ‘ethnomethodological’ orientation predicated on studying practical methods of action and reasoning in combat settings. 

Together we are seeking to look more deeply at how military personnel work together as part of drone and other operations to frame and organise their actions in practice with respect to a range of legal and quasi-legal frameworks. By analysing how armed drone strikes are actually conducted, with a focus on targeting practices and legal reasoning within them, the goal is to open up their practical and practiced grounds.

This collaborative research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council’s North West Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership, involves Michael Mair and Alex Holder at the University of Liverpool and Article 36, which participates on the supervisory team of Alex Holder’s PhD in this area.

We are also producing different written products together, including journal articles, submissions to parliamentary inquiries, and blogs, to raise the profile of this work and analysis amongst the specialist NGO community, policymakers and beyond. Recent outputs include:

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