Drones, Peacekeeping, Civilian Protection, Armed Conflict, DR Congo


Under what conditions are drones effective in protecting civilians in armed conflict? And what shapes support for their use for civilian protection in armed conflict? Drones have been adopted into international peacekeeping operations for the protection of civilians in armed conflict based on the expectation of effectiveness in performing difficult tasks with limited risks. However, in the security studies literature, the question of the effectiveness of drones has been primarily explored within the context of the War on Terror. We know little about drones' effectiveness in non-combat areas like civilian protection in peacekeeping. This dissertation fills this gap by focusing on questions that emerge at the intersection of the fields of emerging technologies, peacekeeping, and civilian protection, political violence, and broader security studies, with the aim of extending this literature and providing policymakers and scholars a framework for conceptualizing emerging technologies for civilian protection in armed conflict. Empirically, it employs qualitative evidence consisting of document reviews, archival work, and expert interviews with officials at the UN headquarters and mission levels, mission intelligence officers, peacekeepers, and humanitarian workers in assessing the effectiveness of drones in peacekeeping for civilian protection. It additionally employs an original survey and a survey experiment among civilian adult populations in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to examine what shapes civilian support for the adoption of drones in peacekeeping. Overall, this dissertation provides valuable insights for both scholars and policymakers who, due to the limited research on this subject, often base assumptions about drone effectiveness in other domains like peacekeeping on their performance in combat contexts.

Completion Date




Committee Chair

Powell, Jonathan


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences


School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs

Degree Program

Security Studies





Release Date

June 2027

Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)

Campus Location

Orlando (Main) Campus

Restricted to the UCF community until June 2027; it will then be open access.