US urged to follow int’l law on drones

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) meets with Pakistani officials in Islamabad on August 13, 2013.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has insisted that US drones must operate within the long-standing international humanitarian law.

Å“As I have often and consistently said, the use of armed drones like any other weapon should be subject to long-standing international law, including international humanitarian law,” Ban said in a speech at the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad.

Ban was addressing the controversial issue of drones during his visit to Pakistan, where the US drone operations are a major thorn in relations with Washington.

The UN chief also said every effort should be made to avoid mistakes and civilian casualties. Å“This is a very clear position of the United Nations. Every effort should be made to avoid mistakes and civilian casualties.”

The remarks come as the United States claims the drone strikes are legal and only target al-Qaeda and pro-Taliban militants.

But Islamabad has repeatedly condemned the attacks, saying they violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.

According to Britain’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the US has carried out nearly 400 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, killing up to 3500 people, including hundreds of civilians.

Meanwhile, Pakistani medics reported that the missiles fired by US drones have contaminated the environment with unknown chemicals. They say most of those wounded by US drone airstrikes in North Waziristan are hospitalized for various skin, eye and respiratory diseases caused by chemicals.

The US often carries out such attacks on Pakistan’s tribal regions, claiming that the militants are their target. But locals say civilians are the main victims of the non-UN-sanctioned US strikes.

The issue of civilian casualties has strained the relations between Islamabad and Washington with the Pakistani government repeatedly objecting to the attacks.

The aerial attacks, initiated by former US president George W. Bush, have been escalated under President Barack Obama.

The United Nations says the US-operated drone strikes in Pakistan pose a growing challenge to the international rule of law.

Philip Alston, the UN special envoy on extrajudicial killings, said in a report in late October 2010 that the attacks were undermining the rules designed to protect the right of life.

Alston also said he fears that the drone killings by the US Central Intelligence Agency could develop a “play station” mentality.


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Republished from: Press TV