To their credit, the Obama administration has vastly expanded the use of drones in the war against al-Qaeda and its murderous affiliates. The “Drone War,” conducted from Pakistan to Somalia has killed hundreds of high value terrorist targets, degrading the leadership capabilities of terror groups and forcing them into hiding where they are far less effective.
That said, the drones have also caused many civilian casualties – a consequence of the fact that the terrorists use civilians as human shields. Pakistan, that publicly condemns the drone strikes while supplying us with intelligence and targeting information under the table, claims that more than 600 civilians have been killed by drones since 2006.
Pakistan probably has an interesting definition of “civilian” but the point is made. At least 130 children have been killed in these strikes and while great care is taken to limit collateral damage, the attacks are a source of friction with Pakistan, and a target of condemnation in the UN.
To that end, the United Nations has decided to investigate our drone campaign.
The inquiry will be carried out in three stages, with the findings scheduled to be delivered to the U.N. General Assembly this fall, according to a statement issued by Emmerson.
The first phase of the investigation, according to Emmerson, will include visits to Pakistan, Yemen and the Sahel region in Africa to speak with local residents and non-governmental organizations to gather eyewitness accounts about past armed drone operations.
More than 80 percent of all U.S. armed drone strikes are targeted in Pakistan and Yemen. The Sahel region is reportedly the home of safe havens for al Qaeda’s West African cell and its affiliates on the continent.
The second phase will include consultations with the U.S. and other countries that have led drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere, Emmerson said in the statement.
The final phase will evaluate all previous findings and input from the countries involved and present recommendations to the U.N. General Assembly by October.
Last year, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced plans for the U.N.-led inquiry into the Obama administration’s aggressive use of unmanned airstrikes inside Pakistan during a speech in Islamabad.
At the time, Pillay said the investigations would focus on the rate of civilian casualties generated by the American drone campaign, and whether those casualties violated human-rights laws.
When asked if American-led drone strikes in Pakistan were violations of human rights, Pillay replied: “I see the indiscriminate killings and injuries of civilians in any circumstances as human-rights violations.”
There is nothing “indiscriminate” about the drone attacks and the gentleman knows it. Each attack receives a high level review that includes a determination regarding potential civilian casualties and other possible damage. We never hear of the drone strikes that have been called off due to the possibility of large numbers of civilian casualties. The military doesn’t announce aborted missions.
This is a witch hunt, and nothing more. We can almost predict what the conclusions will be; the US is committing war crimes by taking out the leaders of terrorist cells bent on killing its citizens and soldiers.