The UN Human Rights Council has condemned arbitrary killings by the use of armed drones in Pakistan. The condemnation by representatives from 21 countries was voiced at a panel discussion on drones in Geneva on Monday.
This is the first time that the Human Rights Council has formally discussed the issue of armed drones in violation of international human rights law as well as the UN Charter. All countries except the US, UK and France condemned the human rights consequences of US drone strikes in Pakistan and other parts of the world.
Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan’s Ambassador Zamir Akram referred to serious concerns by the international community over the use of drones outside the international legal framework; he said the use of armed drones must comply with long-standing rules of international law, and the UN Charter.
Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri questioned whether the use of armed drones was compatible with the rules and principles of international humanitarian law.
In spite of precision claims, the use of armed drones created an atmosphere of fear in the affected communities, and had a negative effect in the everyday life of the affected population, she said.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions Christoph Heyns said the issue with drones was not the legality of the weapon but the legality of their use.
Meanwhile, Legal Director of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights Shahzad Akbar noted that a state could not use deadly force merely because capture was not feasible; the individual in question must pose an imminent threat to human life.
“The experience in Pakistan showed that this simply was not the case,” he said. “The obligation was not upon individuals to prove they posed no threat but the obligation was upon the State firing armed drones to show that their use of force was necessary,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2014.
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