The US must open itself to an independent investigation into its use of drone strikes or the United Nations will be forced to step in, Ben Emmerson QC said yesterday.
His comments came as Pakistani officials said that a US drone strike had killed at least four militants after targeting their vehicles in North Waziristan on Sunday. Attacks by American unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are deeply unpopular in the country, which claims they violate its sovereignty and fan anti-US sentiment.
Only last week cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan vowed to defy Taliban threats to attend a rally in Pakistan's tribal areas aimed at highlighting the human cost of US drone strikes.
Mr Emmerson, a leading London barrister and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, said America is facing mounting global pressure over its use of UAVs and he is preparing a report for the next session of the Human Rights Council in March. The issue, he insists, will “remain at the top of the UN political agenda until some consensus and transparency has been achieved”.
American UAV strikes, most notably in Pakistan and Yemen, have shot up since Barrack Obama came to power. Estimates state that while there were 52 such strikes during George W Bush's time, this number has risen to 282 over the past three and a half years, with officials justifying it has international “self defence” against a stateless enemy.