UN launches drone attacks probe

A United Nations investigation into the impact of drone strikes and targeted killings on civilians was launched in London on Thursday.

  • Published: 24/01/2013 at 10:45 PM
  • Newspaper section: news

A US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in Afghanistan on June 13, 2010. A United Nations investigation into the impact of drone strikes and targeted killings on civilians was launched in London on Thursday.

Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, said there was a need "for accountabilty" when strikes went wrong.

Emmerson, a British lawyer who is heading up the inquiry, said the huge expansion in the technology used in drones required a new legal framework to be put in place.

"The exponential rise in the use of drone technology in a variety of military and non-military contexts represents a real challenge to the framework of an established international law," he told a press conference in London.

"It is both right as a matter of principle, and inevitable as a matter of political reality, that the international community should now be focusing attention on the standards applicable to this technological development."

The probe will focus on 25 case studies of attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories and will report to the UN General Assembly before the end of the year.

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