Salah Sharief

Salah Sharief


This thesis addresses the advent of drone warfare, in particular its detachment, dehumanisation, and resulting proliferation of armed conflict. It then analyses International Humanitarian Law alongside International Human Rights Law and assesses whether technology is developing at a quicker rate than the law, and if so, how the law can be appropriately applied to combat these advancements and their implications.

Dehumanisation is a tool commonly employed to carry out acts of atrocities. By reducing the victim’s status to that of a sub-human, perpetrators absolve themselves from responsibility. However, outward and intentional forms of dehumanisation, such as the label of inyenzi (“cockroaches”) in the Rwandan genocide, or “rats” in the holocaust, are not the only form. This paper researches the dehumanisation developed as a result of both physical and psychological detachment. 

Parallels are drawn between anecdotes of soldiers that had killed their opponents face to face, and drone operators who executed strikes thousands of miles away. The link between physical distance and psychological distance is analysed, and a negative correlation is noted between physical distance and resistance to killing. 

Drones in particular are analysed in detail due to their unique ability to acquire reach of an enemy while simultaneously remaining physically distant. This breakthrough technology coupled with the ability to maintain a constantly watchful eye has led to a dramatic change in the dynamics of armed conflict. 

As a result, war is being transformed from shorter periods of high-intensity conflict, to low-intensity operations that operate indefinitely. The detached nature of the strikes and its resultant physiological effect has thus led to a proliferation of warfare. 

Conference Papers

“Drones, Detachment, and Dehumanisation” presented at Socio-legal Studies Association Annual Conference (27-29 March 2018)

“The Impact of Drone Warfare on International Armed Conflicts” presented at Sheffield Centre for International and European Law Postgraduate Law Conference (1 May 2018)


My parents are from Iraq, Kurdistan, while I was born and raised in Manchester, England.

I completed my undergraduate degree at Queen Mary, University of London, and my Master’s at SOAS, University of London.

Alongside my studies I am the director of two companies: Wordsmiths Editing Ltd., and Insider Training Ltd.

Wordsmiths is a professional proofreading company ( and Insider Training is a consultancy firm aimed at assisting law graduates apply for training contracts (

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

I have a passion for all things academia, from reading and researching to writing. Academia is therefore the perfect option for me. The flexibility of the working hours is another great bonus for me, so that I can organise my time as I please.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

The proliferation of global warfare is a great concern for me, as it should be for all. As human beings we are generally inclined against violence and conflict, and so I believe researching dehumanisation, a tool that leads to violence and facilitates war, would be of great benefit.