UN condemns US drone strikes in Pakistan | News | DW | 16.03.2013
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UN condemns US drone strikes in Pakistan

The United Nations has condemned US drone strikes in Pakistan, saying that they violate Islamabad’s sovereignty. Washington’s response to the UN condemnation was muted.

The UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, Ben Emmerson, has said that Washington's drone campaign in Pakistan's Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) violates international law.

“It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty,” Emmerson said in a press release on Friday, after visiting Islamabad for three days earlier in the week.

Emmerson was tasked by the UN Human Rights Council with investigating the legality of some 25 drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Somalia and Yemen. The investigation was commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council on the initiative of countries such as China, Pakistan and Russia. He is expected to issue his final report to the UN General Assembly in October.

The UN envoy went on to say that the drone strikes had upset the tribal structures of FATA, which borders Afghanistan and has been an alleged sanctuary for Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked militants.

“These proud and independent people have been self-governing for generations, and have a rich tribal history that has been too little understood in the West,” Emmerson said. “Their tribal structures have been broken down by the military campaign in FATA and the use of drones there.”

'Solid working relationship'

In Washington, the response was subdued, with officials emphasizing US-Pakistani cooperation while refraining from further comment.

“We've seen his press release,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. “We have a strong ongoing counterterrorism dialogue with Pakistan that will continue.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Islamabad and Washington have a close security partnership.

“We have a solid working relationship with them (Pakistan) on a range of issues, including a close cooperative security relationship and we're in touch with them on a regular basis on those issues,” Earnest said.

Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks in 2010 revealed that Islamabad had secretly approved US drone strikes on its territory while publicly condemning them. But In 2011, Islamabad kicked the US out of an airbase used by Washington to stage drone strikes, after US airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The number of casualties from drone strikes is disputed. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 2,634 to 3,468 people were killed in 363 drone strikes in Pakistan from 2004 to 2013, including 473 to 893 civilians.

slk/hc (AP, dpa, Reuters)