UN SG: US drone strikes must comply with international law

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Aug. 13 insisted that US drone strikes must operate within international law. The secretary-general hailed the country’s lead role in UN peacekeeping operations and addressed the controversial weapons in a speech at the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad, stating, “[a]s I have often and consistently said, the use of armed drones, like any other weapon, should be subject to long-standing rules of international law, including international humanitarian law. This is the very clear position of the United Nations. Every effort should be made to avoid mistakes and civilian casualties.”

In June Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the Pakistan Foreign Office to contact US Ambassador Richard Hoagland to criticize US drone strikes. Sharif communicated that Pakistan disapproves of the drone strikes and considers them a violation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Sharif stated it is crucial to create a joint strategy to prevent US drone strikes. In May, Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan of the High Court of Peshawar in Pakistan ruled that US drone strikes in the region are illegal.

In March Judge Merrick Garland of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit  reversed a lower court opinion that permitted the CIA to refuse to confirm or deny whether it has records pertaining to the use of unmanned drones to kill suspect terrorists. Also in March, US Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter to Senator Rand Paul suggesting that a drone strike on US soil would be legal only in extraordinary circumstances, following a lengthy filibuster by the senator in the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director.

From Jurist, Aug. 14. Used with permission.