UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution against US drone campaign in foreign territories, Express News reported.
Pakistan has been a vocal opponent of the strikes conducted with the help of unmanned aircraft in the country’s tribal areas and had raised the issue at the UN General Assembly.
The assembly adopted the resolution calling on US, who use drone strikes as a counter-terrorism measure, to comply with international law as the 193-member body acted on a range of issues relating mainly to human rights.
The unanimous call for regulating the use of remotely piloted aircraft against suspected terrorists was contained in a comprehensive 28-paragraph resolution, entitled “Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.” The portion about drone strikes was included as a result of intensive efforts made by the Pakistan delegation.
In this regard, the Assembly underscored the “urgent and imperative” need for an agreement among member states on legal questions about drone operations.
The resolution urged US to ensure that any measures taken or means employed to counter-terrorism, including the use of remotely piloted aircraft, complied with international law. This includes Charter of the United Nations, human rights law and international humanitarian law.
The text also calls for taking into account relevant UN resolutions and decisions on human rights and giving due consideration to recommendations of special procedures and mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, and relevant comments and views of UN human rights treaty bodies.
It also takes note of the report of Special Rapporteur Ben Emersson which refers, inter alia, to the use of drones, and notes the recommendations, including the urgent and imperative need to seek agreement among Member States on legal questions pertaining to remotely piloted aircraft operations.
US is also urged to undertake prompt, independent and impartial fact-finding inquiries whenever there are plausible indications of possible breaches to their obligations under international human rights law with a view to ensuring accountability, while countering terrorism by the resolution.
End drone strikes
On October 25, Pakistan had renewed demands for an end to US drone strikes on its territory.
“In Pakistan, all drone strikes are a chilling reminder that reprisal strikes by terrorists are around the corner,” Pakistan’s UN ambassador Masood Khan had told a UN General Assembly rights committee debate.
Khan had said civilians suffered “inhumane” deaths and the strikes had “radicalised” public opinion in Pakistan.
“We call for the immediate cessation of drone attacks inside the territorial borders of Pakistan,” Khan had stated.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on October 22 had called for the United States to end drone strikes, saying they violated his country’s territorial integrity, and were a “major irritant” in relations between the two countries.
Nawaz further added that the attacks posed a “major” impediment to relations with the United States.
The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism in October had put the total death toll since the campaign began in Pakistan in 2004 at between 2,525 and 3,613.
The Bureau stated that between 407 and 926 of those killed were civilians – 16 to 25 percent of the total.
UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson had also said in a written report that Pakistan had told him that 400 of the 2,200 victims of drone attacks over the past decade – 18 percent – were civilians.
The drone programme, which began under president George W Bush, accelerated significantly after Barack Obama came to power but has tailed off noticeably in the past year.