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March 29, 2014

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Pakistan spearheads UNHRC resolution against drones

Pakistan spearheads UNHRC resolution against drones
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ambassador Zamir Akram successfully spearheaded a resolution which was adopted by a majority vote at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, calling on all states to ensure that the use of armed drones complies with international law.
The resolution urges the member states to ensure that the use of armed drones comply with their obligations under international law, including the UN Charter, human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality.
The resolution, co-sponsored by Yemen and Switzerland was adopted by a vote of 27 states in favour to six against, with 14 abstentions at the 47-member Geneva forum. The United States, Britain and France voted against.
Pakistan has publicly maintained that these drone strikes which have taken out civilians as collateral damage also infringe its sovereignty.“The purpose of this resolution is not to shame or name anyone, as we are against this approach. It is about supporting a principle,” Ambassador Zamir Akram told the UN Human Rights Council, said his office in Geneva.
The resolution did not name the United States.While India abstained from voting, Akram, speaking before the vote, said opposition “can only lead to the conclusion that these states are guilty of violating applicable international law and demonstrate that they are afraid of being exposed in the expert panel”.
It was after a long time that the Foreign Office, whose recent policies have been severely criticised, had reason to pat itself on the back.“The landmark resolution was adopted as a result of our Mission’s close coordination with like-minded states to sensitize the international community on this important legal matter at the United Nations. It underscores the success of Pakistan’s diplomacy in garnering international support for its principled position on the use of armed drones in violation of international law. This will further strengthen the country’s efforts to address the issue of drones,” the spokesperson at the Foreign Office said in a statement.
Equally delighted was the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, which has been in the forefront of political parties criticizing these American-led attacks.The party’s spokesperson Dr Shireen Mazari told The News, “PTI’s position has been vindicated regarding the illegality of drone attacks under international law”.
The resolution also calls for convening an interactive panel discussion of experts on legal questions pertaining to this issue as recommended in the report of Ben Emerson, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights, while countering terrorism. The panel discussion will take place at the 27th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva to be held in September 2014.
“Pakistan has consistently raised the issue at all relevant international fora including the United Nations. In November, 2013 Pakistan had successfully included references on the use of drones in a UN General Assembly resolution that urged member states to comply with their obligations under international law. Other UN bodies where Pakistan has raised this concern include the UN Security Council, committees of UN General Assembly dealing with disarmament and international security issues and Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons”, added the spokesperson.
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