UNCHR calls on EU to ban the development, production and use of drones

Events 2013-2015

ben emmerson and droneAs this site recorded, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, a barrister specialising in European human rights law and member of Matrix Chambers, released an interim report on the use of drones in counter-terrorism operations.

  • Officials stated that reports of continuing tacit consent by Pakistan to the use of drones on its territory by any other State are false, and confirmed that a thorough search of Government records had revealed no indication of such consent having been given.
  • Officials pointed to public statements by Pakistan at the United Nations emphasizing this position and calling for an immediate end to the use of drones by any other State on the territory of Pakistan.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that since mid-2010 the Government has regularly sent Notes Verbales to the US Embassy in Islamabad protesting the use of drones on the territory of Pakistan, emphasizing that Pakistan regards these strikes as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and requiring the US to cease these strikes immediately.
  • Officials also drew attention to a series of resolutions passed by both Houses of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) calling for an end to the use of drones.
  • According to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there have been at least 330 drone strikes on the territory of Pakistan since 2004.
  • Records showed that the total number of deaths caused by drone strikes was at least 2,200 that in addition at least 600 people had suffered serious injuries.
  • The Government confirmed that at least 400 civilians had been killed as a result of drone strikes, and that a further 200 individuals were regarded as probable non-combatants.
  • Most of the attacks involved US drones
  • Drone attacks had fractured their existing tribal structures, and destroyed their way of life.
  • Their local tribal law, the Pashtunwali, prescribed revenge for the loss of a life and that this tribal tradition had given rise to a desire to seek revenge for the drone strikes, radicalizing a new generation.


The Guardian reported on 10th March 2014 that Emmerson concluded states have an obligation to launch a prompt, independent and impartial fact-finding inquiry into any case in which there have been, or appear to have been, civilian casualties that were not anticipated when the attack was planned; the state responsible is under an obligation to conduct and provide a detailed public explanation of the results.

unhcr headerThe United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) called for independent investigations to be carried out into drone attacks after a series of strikes that led to unexpected civilian deaths in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.

The Emmerson proposal formed the basis for the UNHCR March 28th vote to approve a Pakistan-sponsored resolution (A/HRC/25/L.32) which:

unhcr provision drones textIt was noted on this site that US, UK and France were the only countries to vote against the resolution.

The Report of the Human Rights Council on its 27th session (A/HRC/27/2) records that the Council held a panel discussion on ensuring use of remotely piloted aircraft or armed drones in counter-terrorism and military operations in accordance with international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law.


March 4th B8‑0228/2015 European Parliament resolution on the EU’s priorities for the 2015 UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR)

  • [UNHCR] again calls for the development of a common EU position on the use of armed drones, giving utmost importance to respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and addressing issues such as the legal framework, proportionality, accountability, the protection of civilians and transparency;
  • calls for the EU to support efforts at the regional and international levels to oppose and ban the practice of extrajudicial and targeted killings, and to take legal measures wherever an individual or entity may be connected to an unlawful targeted killing abroad
  • and urges the EU, once again, to ban the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention.

This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Airstrikes, Armed drones, Civilian deaths, Drone strikes, Human rights, International law, Pakistan, UN, US government, Yemen and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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