Entering the firing line: How civilians become legitimate targets in war as technology becomes a double-edged sword

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Information Warfare


Journal of Information Warfare


School of Science




Crowley, M., Johnstone, M. N., & Murray, G. (2023). Entering the Firing Line: How Civilians Become Legitimate Targets in War as Technology Becomes a Double-Edged Sword. Journal of Information Warfare, 22(1). https://www.jinfowar.com/journal/volume-22-issue-1/entering-firing-line-how-civilians-become-legitimate-targets-war-technology-becomes-double-edged-sword https://www.jinfowar.com/journal/volume-22-issue-1/entering-firing-line-how-civilians-become-legitimate-targets-war-technology-becomes-double-edged-sword


The Ukraine-Russia conflict has raised important questions about when an adversary can target civilians. Under the rules of war set out in the Geneva Conventions and associated international agreements, there is a clear distinction between combatants and non-combatants and how each should be treated. The ease of access to cheap technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) that can be adapted to be military assets, has encouraged some civilians to become combatants. As such, they can be legitimately targeted; such targeting does, however, have limitations. This article examines the legal and technical issues arising from the use of drones by civilians in an armed conflict.

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