Next week’s UN debate on the use of drones is going to focus heavily on their use for extrajudicial executions, and the United States in particular, which is using drones to an extent no other nation is.
UN officials concede that there may be some valid uses for drones that would comply with international humanitarian law, but also say that the US is almost certainly not doing so.
The legality of what the US is doing is somewhat further muddied by the Obama Administration’s intense secrecy about what exactly they are doing, and the UN is urging them to declassify as much of the details of the program as possible, including information on civilian deaths.
The US has sought to dismiss claims of civilian deaths but also, at least to the extent they discuss the matter at all publicly, seem not to be keeping track of who is getting killed at all, beyond those rare cases when the death comes with an actual name attached.
Many hundreds of civilians have been killed in the US attacks in Pakistan, and scores of others in Yemen, a fact the Obama Administration is loathe to discuss.