The United Nations has launched an investigation into the United States’ use of drone killings and targeted warfare against al-Qaida, The Associated Press reports. Three countries have requested this investigation into U.S. practices, but the only country that has been public about their request is Pakistan. The other two countries are not known, but it has been reported that they are members of the U.N. Security Council.
Pakistan opposes U.S. drone use within its borders, however, it is believed that certain drone strikes have been approved in the past. Although some Pakistani civilians have said that innocent people were killed by American drone strikes, the U.S. has dismissed that accusation.
British lawyer Ben Emmerson, one of the United Nations’experts on counterterrorism and human rights, will be looking into civilian killings and injuries that result from drone strikes on suspected terrorist cells. He will be presenting the results of his investigation to the U.N. General assembly later on this year.
“The exponential rise in the use of drone technology in a variety of military and non-military contexts represents a real challenge to the framework of established international law,” Emmerson said after the probe was announced on Thursday.
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According to The Long War Journal, the use of drone strikes has risen under President Obama. There were 35 strikes in Pakistan during 2008, the last year President George W. Bush was in office. After President Obama entered the White House, that number grew to 117 in 2010, then fell to 64 in 2011 and 46 in 2012.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed lawsuits against the U.S. after drone attacks killed three U.S. civilians in Yemen in 2011. The AP reports that Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, said: “We welcome this investigation in the hopes that global pressure will bring the U.S. back into line with international law requirements that strictly limit the use of lethal force.”