U.N. rights chief “seriously concerned” over U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, echoed by Iran

U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay used a major speech today before the 47-nation Human Rights Council to express “serious concern” over U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan and to call for investigations, echoing comments she made in a recent visit to that country:

During my visit, I also expressed serious concern over the continuing use of armed drones for targeted attacks, in particular because it is unclear that all persons targeted are combatants or directly participating in hostilities. The Secretary-General has expressed concern about the lack of transparency on the circumstances in which drones are used, noting that these attacks raise questions about compliance with distinction and proportionality. I remind States of their international obligation to take all necessary precautions to ensure that attacks comply with international law. I urge them to conduct investigations that are transparent, credible and independent, and provide victims with effective remedies.

Her remarks sparked a feeding frenzy by some of the worst regimes, who rushed to quote her remarks in their own plenary speeches.

Pakistan gleefully noted that “The High Commissioner has made a reference to the using of drones in Pakistan and the civilian casualties caused by United States’ drone attacks. Pakistan consistently maintains that the use of drones is illegal and violates the sovereignty of Pakistan.”  The council’s special investigators need to pay heed to these “indiscriminate attacks,” it said, in which thousands have been murdered.

Iran took the floor to say it shared Pillay’s concerns over “grave violations in the context of counter-terrorist operations” and “the continuing use of armed drones for targeted attacks in Pakistan.” Tehran effectively called for the U.N. to prosecute U.S. President Obama:

We strongly believe that beyond reminding States of their international obligation under international law, there is an urgent need for effective and practical measures at international level including through a transparent, credible and independent international investigation by the Council and other relevant UN bodies to bring the perpetrators to justice and provide victims with effective remedies.

Cuba slammed the use of drones as a form of “extrajudicial killings.”

UN Watch