U.N. official questions U.S. drone use

Oct. 29, 2009 at 12:41 AM

NEW YORK, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- A U.N. rights official has questioned whether the use of unmanned U.S. drones against Pakistani and Afghan militants breaches international law.

Philip Alston, the U.N. human rights investigator, told reporters at the United Nations in New York the Predator drone strikes against the Taliban and other terrorists in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region could be a breach of international law unless the United States can show it follows appropriate precautions and accountability mechanisms, a U.N. News release said. Alston serves in an independent and unpaid capacity and reports to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"While there may be circumstances in which the use of such techniques is consistent with applicable international law, this can only be determined in light of information about the legal basis on which particular individuals have been targeted, the measures taken to ensure conformity with the international humanitarian law principles of discrimination, proportionality, necessity and precaution, and the steps taken retrospectively to assess compliance in practice," Alston said in his report.

Alston did not agree with a reported U.S. position that the U.N. General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have no role in relation to actions during an armed conflict.

"That would remove the great majority of issues that come before these bodies right now," he told reporters.

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