BYU Law Review


Ben Forsgren


Are advances in national security worth pursuing at the expense of sovereign equality? A new U.S. drone program may soon force the world to decide. Thanks to recent technological advances in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and directed energy weapons, the United States will soon have a fleet of missile defense UAVs outfitted with advanced laser weapons designed to destroy intercontinental ballistic missiles before the missiles complete their launch phase. While these drones would significantly decrease the threat of a nuclear attack against the United States, they can only function if they are preemptively stationed in the sovereign airspace of other countries — a clear violation of current international sovereignty law. This article explains the technology of the new program, demonstrates how it violates international sovereignty law, and argues that its implementation will move the world closer to an international system of contingent sovereignty that rejects the idea of sovereign equality and subjects weaker states to the objectives of strong states.


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