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The Emerging Parliamentary Convention on British Military Action and Warfare by Remote Control

Tara McCormack
RUSI Journal, 28 April 2016
Defence Policy, UK Defence
Other forms of warfare have yet to come under parliamentary control and oversight

Recent British military interventions in Libya, Iraq and Syria have all been put to the vote in the House of Commons. This suggests a shift away from the longstanding Royal Prerogative on war-making powers towards an expectation that parliamentary authorisation is first required. As Tara McCormack argues however, there is a concurrent trend that undermines this apparent move towards greater democratic oversight of the use of military assets in conflict: the growing preference for ‘warfare by remote control’, such as the deployment of drones or military trainers. Perceived as a form of intervention with less ‘skin in the game’, such military action has so far been launched without prior parliamentary approval – and without scrutiny.

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