ISLAMABAD - The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted Friday a Pakistan-sponsored resolution by an overwhelming majority urging member states to ensure that they must comply with the obligations under international law while using armed drones.
According to a Foreign Office statement, the resolution urges the member states to ensure that the use of armed drones comply with the 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 calls for convening an interactive panel discussion of experts on legal questions pertaining to this issue as recommended in the report of Mr Ben Emerson, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism. Reuters from Geneva adds: The resolution presented by Pakistan on behalf of co-sponsors including Yemen and Switzerland did not single out any state. The United States is the biggest drone user in conflicts including those in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia.
“The purpose of this resolution is not to shame or name anyone, as we are against this approach,” Pakistan’s Ambassador Zamir Akram told the UN Human Rights Council.
“It is about supporting a principle.”
“The United States is committed to ensuring that our actions, including those involving remotely piloted aircraft, are undertaken in accordance with all applicable domestic and international law and with the greatest possible transparency, consistent with our national security needs,” Paula Schriefer, US deputy assistant secretary of state, told the talks.
The resolution was adopted by a vote of 27 states in favour to six against, with 14 abstentions at the 47-member Geneva forum. The United States, Britain and France voted against.
The Council “urges all states to ensure that any measures employed to counter terrorism, including the use of remotely piloted aircraft or armed drones, comply with their obligations under international law ... in particular the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality”.
The text voiced concern at civilian casualties resulting from the use of remotely-piloted aircraft or armed drones, as highlighted by the UN special investigator on counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson in a recent report.
The United States, Britain and France said it was not appropriate for the forum to put weapons systems on its agenda.