Conflict & Justice

UN launching investigation into drone killings


A US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in 2010. Drones have been a key element of the fight against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.


Massoud Hossaini

The United Nations is launching an investigation into the impact drone killings and targeted assassinations have on civilians.

Ben Emmerson QC, a UN special rapporteur, said there is a need for "accountability and reparation where things have gone badly wrong," according to the BBC.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights will determine whether drone attacks constitute a war crime.

Al Jazeera said the inquiry was launched in response to requests from Russia, China and Pakistan. 

"This is not an investigation into the conduct of any particular state. It's an investigation into the consequence into this form of technology," Emmerson told Al Jazeera.

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"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 specter that non state organizations - organizations labeled as terrorist groups - could use the technology in retaliation," he said.

Twenty-five attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and the Palestinian territories will be investigated, the BBC said.

Among the attacks investigated are operations carried out by the US and United Kingdom, the Guardian noted. The inquiry is expected to report to the UN General Assembly in New York this fall. Depending on the outcome, the report may recommend further action.

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