NEW YORK: United Nations General Assembly has adopted a unanimous resolution presented by Pakistan and its likeminded countries against drone attacks. The resolution urges the member states to ensure that any measure taken or means employed to counter terrorism‚ including the use of drones‚ comply with their obligations under international law‚ including the Charter of United Nations‚ human rights law and international humanitarian law‚ in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality. Meanwhile Pakistan has termed the passage of resolution against drone strikes as vital diplomatic success of Pakistan.
Pakistan with the help of other likeminded states presented resolution in the general assembly, calling for halt to missile strikes. It was first ever resolution which has been passed by the General Assembly of the UN.
Pakistan has been raising the issue of drones at all relevant international fora including the United Nations to raise international public opinion against the use of drones.
The unanimous call for regulating the use of remotely piloted aircraft against suspected terrorists was contained in a comprehensive 28-paragraph resolution, titled “Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.” The portion about drone strikes were included as a result of intensive efforts made by the Pakistan delegation. The United Nations General Assembly has said that the innocents are killed in drone strikes, adding that the drone strikes are causing increase in the terrorism.
It is the first time that the General Assembly has spoken out on the use of armed drones — a key but controversial component of the US war against terrorism, including against targets in Pakistan.
In this regard, the Assembly underscored the “urgent and imperative” need for an agreement among member states on legal questions about drone operations.
The text also calls for taking into account “Relevant United Nations resolutions and decisions on human rights, and encourages them to give due consideration to the recommendations of the special procedures and mechanisms of the Human Rights Council and to the relevant comments and views of United Nations human rights treaty bodies.”
The resolution also takes note of the report of the Special Rapporteur Ben Emersson, “which refers, inter alia, to the use of remotely piloted aircraft, and notes the recommendations, including the urgent and imperative need to seek agreement among Member States on legal questions pertaining to remotely piloted aircraft operations.”
The text also encouraged “States while countering terrorism to undertake prompt, independent and impartial fact-finding inquiries whenever there are plausible indications of possible breaches to their obligations under international human rights law, with a view to ensuring accountability.”
It may be recalled that the Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2013, strongly raised the issue of drones. He had said that the use of armed drones in the border areas of Pakistan were a continued violation of Pakistan’s territorial integrity and also stressed that they result in casualties of innocent civilians and are detrimental to efforts to eliminate extremism and terrorism. Prime Minister had demanded immediate halting of drone strikes in Pakistan. Prime minister also raised the issue of drone strikes inside Pakistan during his meeting with US President Barack Obama. Pakistan has also raised voice against drone strikes at all political and diplomatic forums of the world.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said Pakistan has been raising the issue of drones at all relevant international fora including the United Nations to raise international public opinion against the use of drones. She said that the passage of resolution is the vital diplomatic success of Pakistan. She said that Pakistan carried out crucial efforts for the passage of the resolution. She said that the resolution was passed due to the close ties with the member states of the UNGA and lobbying of Pakistan. She said Pakistan has raised the issue of drone strikes at political and diplomatic forums. She said that the passage of the drone strikes shows that the point of view of Pakistan against the drone strikes was right. She said that the passage of the resolution in UNGA is the result of the efforts of the Pakistan at different forums of the world.
The issue of drone strikes will also be taken up by the UN Human Rights Council in its March 2014 session.
Since 2004 the United States has carried out hundreds of missile attacks from unmanned aircraft on suspected militants linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The vast majority of them have hit targets in the seven tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, which have a separate legal and political governance system from the rest of the country.
The number and identity of casualties is often hard to determine because the tribal areas are off-limits to foreign journalists and aid organisations, but the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates deaths at between 2,500 and 3,700.
Hundreds of civilians have died in the attacks, according to various estimates, prompting outrage in Pakistan and abroad.
A major report last month from rights campaigners Amnesty International said the US may be guilty of war crimes.