Drones have killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan and Yemen
The Obama Administration has today announced an international declaration on the applicability of international law and human rights in the use of armed drones.
The agreement does not acknowledge the effects of the long-running, secretive US use of armed drones in countries where it is not at war, in a program which violates international law. It states that “misuse… could fuel conflict and stability”, without reference to impact the US’s own covert drone program has had.
President Obama’s classified drone program has killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan and Yemen without formal acknowledgement or apology. In a speech in April 2016, the President admitted that the program’s legal architecture and command structures were “underdeveloped” until 2013.
The Obama Administration is also arguing in the US federal court case Jaber v Obama – scheduled to be argued in Washington, DC on December 13 – that its drone killing program and practices are beyond the reach of the US courts, even where the most heinous war crimes have been committed.
A study by international human rights organization Reprieve, which assists civilian victims of drone strikes, found that the program killed an estimated 28 unknown people for every intended target.
Commenting, Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at Reprieve said:
“Only this week, President Obama admitted that future U.S. presidents may be able to engage in perpetual covert wars “all over the world… without any accountability or democratic debate.” As drones spread, it is no longer just the US President about whom we must worry. This international agreement does little to ensure that other countries will not follow the dangerous precedent President Obama has set.
“If the US is truly serious about ensuring states use drones in accordance with human rights, then it needs to lead by example. It needs to end its own covert assassination program, one that has set dangerous precedents and led to the deaths of thousands, far from battlefields. The victims of those strikes deserve more than just words on paper. They deserve accountability for the US’s own use, and a US that is committed to more than just a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach.”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.