UN chief says use of drones is subject to international law

UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Thursday voiced concern over the use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for targeted attacks that have resulted in heavy civilian casualties, saying it was bound by international law, according to his spokesman.

Deputy Spokesman Eduardo del Buey was responding to a statement made by a UN expert investigating casualties from the US drone strikes in Pakistan declared that the attacks violate the country’s sovereignty.
The Secretary-General remains concerned by the use of UAVs for targeted attacks,” Spokesman del Buey said when asked for comments on the comments by Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, that the Pakistani government made clear to him that it does not consent to the strikes.

“The position of the government of Pakistan is quite clear,” said Emmerson after a recent trip to Pakistan. “It does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and it considers this to be a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Reacting to Emmerson’s statement, the UN spokesman said in New York, “The use of unarmed UAVs is subject to long-standing rules of international law, especially international humanitarian law. There is a need for greater international confidence in the international community that the use of these weapons is within the bounds of international law.”

President Obama has stepped up covert CIA drone strikes targeting al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan’s tribal region along the Afghan border since he took office in 2009.

The strikes have caused growing controversy because of the secrecy surrounding them and reports that they have caused significant civilian casualties – allegations denied by the United States.