Well this is fun: the U.N. looks like it's attempting its own military build up, now expressing interest in procuring drones from member countries. Ostensibly for purposes of monitoring the situation in the DRC, the drones would nevertheless represent a new frontier in terms of the international body's available powers. The Weekly Standard reports:
"The United Nations wants to use drones for the first time to monitor fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where Rwanda has been accused of aiding rebels," says the report, quoting U.N. officials.
The international body "is considering a range of ways to strengthen the capabilities of MONUSCO to protect civilians from the threat of armed groups in the vast area of eastern DR Congo," a U.N. spokesman says.
"Unarmed aerial vehicles, drones for monitoring the movements of armed groups, are one tool we are considering."
The spokesman, Kieran Dwyer, insists the U.N.'s use of drones would be done carefully.
"Of course, we would do this carefully, in full cooperation with the government of the DR Congo, and trialing their most effective uses for information gathering to help implement our mandate to protect civilians," says the spokesman.
"Ultimately, to introduce these, we would need the support of member states to equip the mission."
An unnamed diplomat says, "The UN has approached a number of countries, including the United States and France, about providing drones which could clearly play a valuable role monitoring the frontier. ... Clearly there will be political considerations though."
It is not clear whether any of the countries have agreed to work with the U.N. on the budding drone program.
It's hard to imagine that this plan will go too far -- after all, many developing nations don't particularly support drone usage as it is, and developed countries aren't likely to assent to this expansion of power. Still, it's cute (and maybe a little disturbing) that they're hoping to acquire drones.