Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Paul E. Rutledge


The United States increasingly has resorted to the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for targeted killings of terrorists as a counterterrorism strategy. More states and terrorist organizations also are acquiring UAVs and this development can lead to indiscriminate and unregulated use of UAVs. Previous researchers have indicated the surveillance ability and precise weapon delivery capacity of UAVs make them a weapon of choice for U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Although the U.S. government estimated the collateral damage involved in the use of UAVs at 3-5%, nongovernmental sources put it at 25-40%. A gap exists in the current literature regarding public perception of the use of UAVs as a counterterrorism measure and how international humanitarian law (IHL) may interpret employment of UAVs. The purpose of this quantitative, cross-sectional study is to determine if a relationship exists among public support of the use of UAVs for targeted killing, attitudes towards counterterrorism, and public perceptions of IHL. An online survey was used to collect data from 104 adult participants using the convenience sampling method. Logistic regression, ANOVA, and correlational analyses helped to determine the relationships. The outcomes contributed to the existing literature by providing important data related to public perception of the use of UAVs with the potential to enhance global peace and security. The results contributed to social change initiatives through the potential to facilitate the establishment of international and domestic legal frameworks to regulate the future employment of UAVs for targeted killing.