WASHINGTON The United States and more than 40 other countries issued a declaration on Wednesday laying out principles they said should govern the export and use of armed drones to ensure they do not cause instability or help terrorism and organised crime.
Many U.S. allies such as Britain, Germany and Australia were among the countries that signed the declaration released by the U.S. State Department.
France, Israel, Brazil, Russia and China, among other countries, did not sign the "Joint Declaration for the Export and Subsequent Use of Armed or Strike-Enabled Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)."
"Recognising that misuse of armed or strike-enabled UAVs could fuel conflict and instability, and facilitate terrorism and organised crime, the international community must take appropriate transparency measures to ensure the responsible export and subsequent use of these systems," the declaration said.
It said international laws on armed conflict and human rights should apply to the use of armed drones, and exports should be consistent with existing multilateral export control and nonproliferation regimes.
The United States regularly uses drones to attack Islamic State, al Qaeda and other militant groups in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries.
The U.S. military's drone program has expanded far beyond specific strikes to become an everyday part of its war machine. Drones fired more weapons than conventional warplanes in Afghanistan last year and the ratio is rising, U.S. Air Force data show.
(Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Sandra Maler)