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UN investigative unit to probe US assassination drone attacks

The United Nations has announced plans to form an investigative unit to examine the legality of US assassination drone strikes.

The UN special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, said in a Thursday speech to Harvard law school that he, along with another colleague at the UN, will set up the investigative unit early next year in Geneva in an attempt to probe the terror drone attacks in different parts of the world.

“If the relevant states are not willing to establish effective independent monitoring mechanisms… then it may in the last resort be necessary for the UN to act,” Emmerson stated.

He added that the unit is also set to examine “other forms of targeted killing… in which it is alleged that civilian casualties have been inflicted.”

The UN official denounced as indefensible Washington’s claim that it can carry out assassination drone operations anywhere in the world because it is deemed to be an international conflict.

“The global war paradigm has done immense damage to a previously shared international consensus on the legal framework underlying both international human rights law and international humanitarian law,” Emmerson said.

“It has also given a spurious justification to a range of serious human rights and humanitarian law violations.”

“The [global] war paradigm was always based on the flimsiest of reasoning, and was not supported even by close allies of the US. The first-term Obama administration initially retreated from this approach, but over the past 18 months it has begun to rear its head once again, in briefings by administration officials seeking to provide a legal justification for the drone program of targeted killing in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia…” he added.

Washington has been using its terror drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, claiming that it is targeting terrorists, but the attacks have mostly led to massive civilian deaths.

The assassination strikes were initiated under former US President George W. Bush, but have escalated under President Barack Obama.

The United Nations has censured the attacks as targeted killings and says they flout international law.

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