The Humanitarian Drone and the Borders: Unveiling the Rationales Underlying the Deployment of Drones in Border Surveillance

Luisa Marin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


In these days economic and political pressures push for the deployment of drones’ technology in civil and commercial domains. This chapter focuses in particular on the deployment of drones in the context of border surveillance. Border surveillance is a shared competence between the European Union, through its dedicated agency Frontex, and the Member States. The aim of the chapter is to challenge the humanitarian rationale presented to defend the choice of deploying drones in this ambit and to assess whether this humanitarian rationale is embedded into a legal framework, policy and practice oriented toward the protection of the human lives and the activation of search and rescue (S.A.R.) responsibilities of the relevant actors. The key research question is whether the deployment of drones will make Fortress Europe more human, whether it is geared at saving human lives or whether it is aimed at strengthening the intelligence dimension of border surveillance. In order to answer the research questions, the chapter will, first, present the emergence of the civilian drone, and second, will embed the chapter into a theoretical framework, placing border surveillance within the context of securitization, with the technological turn it has acquired in the last years. The chapter will then focus on the EUROSUR Regulation and its enforcement, aiming at achieving a total surveillance of the borders of the Union, through the so-called 24/7 blue-green situational awareness. It will then discuss the EU and Member States Search and Rescue obligations, also in light of recent problematic cases, before focusing on a case of deployment of drones in border surveillance, in Mare Nostrum. All in all, the last developments, in the practice and the legal infrastructure, point to increasing the surveillance capacities of the EU, namely of its dedicated agency Frontex, by further developing its intelligence capacity, through new means and technological tools.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Future of Drone Use: Opportunities and Threats from Ethical and Legal Perspectives
EditorsBart Custers
ISBN (Print)978-94-6265-131-9
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameInformation Technology and Law Series


  • METIS-319628
  • IR-102581


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