Posted by Zia H. Shah MD - Twitter: @ZiahShah1
Source: The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON — The United Nations opened a major new investigation on Thursday into the United States’ use of drones and targeted assassinations.
The U.N. investigation, led by special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights Ben Emmerson, is expected to focus on the legal justification for America’s expansive drone program, which has largely remained secretive and unexamined.
“The exponential rise in the use of drone technology in a variety of military and non-military contexts represents a real challenge to the framework of established international law,” Emmerson said in a statement released by his office.
“It is therefore imperative that appropriate legal and operational structures are urgently put in place to regulate its use in a manner that complies with the requirements of international law, including international human rights law, international humanitarian law (or the law of war as it used to be called), and international refugee law.”
Human rights observers have long objected to the use of drones to target suspected terrorists because they often result in wider civilian deaths than administration officials have acknowledged.
But more practical concerns — about the legality and efficacy of the program, as well as the White House’s lack of transparency — have also been growing.
The United States is by far the leading user of drones and unmanned vehicles for targeted assassinations, but it is not the only one. Drone use is expected to expand widely around the world — China and Iran already are known to have the capability — and there have been growing calls for the U.S. to clarify its own internal rules for the appropriate use of the technology.