UNITED NATIONS: That's It, We're Investigating Drone Killings


The U.N. has launched an investigation into U.S., British, and Israeli airstrikes that allegedly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Pakistan alone.Brenda Goh of Reuters reports that the announcement came in London early Thursday and that the inquiry will focus on strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistani territories. Mainly, the inquiry seems aimed at forcing Washington’s hand to make strikes more transparent and provide a concrete operating procedure.

From Reuters:

“It is … imperative that appropriate legal and operational structures are urgently put in place to regulate its use in a manner that complies with the requirements of international law,” said Ben Emmerson, the U.N. special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights.

It’s imperative, Emmerson says, because drone technology will not always be in the hands of a select few nations. In fact, 75 countries are in possession of or are developing drone technology.

Germany has recently decided, despite years of remaining militarily mute, it would use armed drones because it needs a “‘credible deterrence,’ pointing to the Predator drones used by the United States as a possible model,” according to Der Spiegel.

With the list of drone-capable countries growing, both in terms of domestic and also foreign military operations, an international blue-print for the legal basis would standardize strike procedures. The only way to make one, though, is if all the countries conducting strikes fess up to their tactics, techniques and procedures — something military and intelligence folks of all nationalities are likely to protest.

Some organisations, like the American Civil Liberties Union, aren’t taking no for an answer.

“To date, there has been an abysmal lack of transparency and no accountability for the U.S. government’s ever-expanding targeted killing program,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU.

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