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United Nations resolution calls for regulation of drone strikes

December 19, 2013 13:46 IST

The UN General Assembly on Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution which calls for counter-terrorism measures, including the use of remotely-piloted aircraft or drones, to comply with international law.

The resolution came amidst a heated public debate over drone strikes, especially in Pakistan.

While American security experts say the drone strikes target only the terrorists, human rights activists claim a number of civilians are also killed.

Pakistan has termed the drone strikes as a violation of its sovereignty.

The resolution is the first instance of a reference to the issue of drones in a UN resolution.

"Pakistan successfully coordinated with like-minded states to include references to the use of drones in the resolution," a statement released by the Pakistan Foreign Office said in Islamabad.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had in his address to the UN General Assembly on September 27 strongly raised the issue of drones.

He 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.

The resolution adopted today 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 UN Charter, human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality.

The resolution also lays emphasis on the urgent and imperative need to seek agreement between states on the legal questions pertaining to the use of drones.

However, experts say that the UN resolution against drones only has moral value unless the Security Council endorses it.

Pakistan has been raising the issue of drones at all relevant international fora including the UN to raise international public opinion against the use of drones.

UN bodies where Pakistan has raised the issue of drones include Security Council, General Assembly, Committees of General Assembly dealing with Disarmament and International Security, Social, Humanitarian and Cultural and Legal issues, Human Rights Council and Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons.

"Drones strikes have serious human rights and humanitarian implications besides implications for inter-state relations and peace and security. The issue of drone strikes will also be taken up by the UN Human Rights Council in its March 2014 session," the official statement by Pakistan said. 

Yoshita Singh and Snehesh Alex Philip United Nations/Islamabad
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