United Nations to probe UK and US drone strikes
By Meena Haseeb - Thu Jan 24 2013, 9:36 am
A UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson is expected to review the miliary use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) conducted by UK and US in afghanitan, Pakistan and Sahel region of Africa.
The rapporteur will also reveal the full scope of his review regarding the drone strikes carried out by Israel in Palentinian territories and including other regions where UN has not formally recognised a conflict zone.
About 20 or 30 strikes – selected as representative of different types of attacks – will be studied to assess the extent of any civilian casualties, the identity of militants targeted and the legality of strikes in countries, Guardian reported.
The inquiry will report to the UN general assembly in New York this autumn. Depending on its findings, it may recommend further action. Emmerson has previously suggested some drone attacks – particularly those known as “double tap” strikes where rescuers going to the aid of a first blast have become victims of a follow-up strike – could possibly constitute a “war crime”.
The inquiry will be co-ordinated through Emmerson’s UN office in Geneva. Among the team of experts working with him will be the former director of public prosecutions, Lord Macdonald QC, a former prosecutor at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, and Dr Nat Cary, one of the UK’s most experienced pathologists who specialises in the interpretation of injuries caused by explosions.
According to Guardian, staff in Geneva have already begun to examine details of individual drone strikes. Emmerson says that, when assembled, his dossier of evidence may not lead to direct “attribution of legal liability” but will enable him to put allegations to the states responsible and obtain a response.
This comes as a number of the US officials have recently acknowledged a need to demonstrate legal justification for targeted killings to the international community despite many US officials justifying drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia as acceptable as part of the global war on terrorism.