The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has launched an investigation into drone strikes and will review resultant civilian casualties to determine whether the attacks constitute a war crime.
Ben Emmerson, a UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, formally launched the inquiry on Thursday, in response to requests from Russia, China and Pakistan. Emmerson’s team will conduct the inquiry in consultation with military experts and journalists from the UK, Yemen and Pakistan.
A statement released by the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights states that the inquiry will provide a “critical examination of the factual evidence concerning civilian casualties”. It also states that the inquiry ultimately intends to make recommendations to the UN General Assembly to prompt countries to “investigate into the lawfulness and proportionality of such attacks”.
” A very serious and escalating situation” which must be addressed by the international community “urgently”
“This is not an investigation into the conduct of any particular state. It’s an investigation into the consequence into this form of technology, The reality is that the increasing availability of this technology […] makes it very likely that more states will be using this technology in the coming months and years and includes raising the spectre that non state organisations – organisations labelled as terrorist groups – could use the technology in retaliation,” Emmerson told Al Jazeera.
At a press conference on Thursday in London, Emmerson said that the British government had already agreed to co-operate with the investigation and that he was “optimistic” that the US would do the same. He also requested the US to release “before and after” videos of the drone strikes and internal reports of those killed, including civilians.