The United Nations will establish an investigative team next year to probe the legality of America’s generalized drone war abroad. The inquiry could find U.S. leaders guilty of war crimes in Pakistan and elsewhere.
Special U.N. rapporteur Ben Emmerson made the announcement in a speech at Harvard Law School. He also condemned the use of secret renditions and waterboarding as crimes under international law during a critique of both U.S. presidential candidates.
“The global war paradigm has done immense damage to a previously shared international consensus on the legal framework underlying both international human rights law and international humanitarian law,” [Emmerson] said. “It has also given a spurious justification to a range of serious human rights and humanitarian law violations.
“The [global] war paradigm was always based on the flimsiest of reasoning, and was not supported even by close allies of the US. The first-term Obama administration initially retreated from this approach, but over the past 18 months it has begun to rear its head once again, in briefings by administration officials seeking to provide a legal justification for the drone programme of targeted killing in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia …
“[It is] alleged that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. Christof Heyns … has described such attacks, if they prove to have happened, as war crimes. I would endorse that view.”