Targeted killings challenge to international rule of law: Haroon

July 17, 2013 Off By Web Desk

Karachi: Targeted killings are a rapidly growing challenge to the international rule of law, and are increasingly used in circumstances which violate the relevant rules of International law. The international community needs to be more forceful in demanding accountability, said Pakistani politician Abdullah Hussain Haroon in a statement here Wednesday.

He said since times immemorial targeted killing has played a dominant role in shaping world history and destiny and while the legends of men and societies’ nomenclature hastily transferred from assassins to freedom fighters to founding fathers, the only change that the march of civilization impressed upon the methodology was, ‘how to kill more effectively’. From a stone to a club to poison to a blade to a bullet then a bomb and now drones, the insatiable drive towards achieving objectives through targeted killing and by shedding human blood remains unabated.

Haroon said targeted killings has prompted the civilized world to refine the post world war policy of ‘hot pursuit’ to permit the unabashed violation of the sovereign domain of other states through a policy of ‘legitimate response to terrorism and asymmetric warfare’ and in their justifications have undermined the immense post second world war process of laws and legalities that were put in place to ensure that the debacle arising from political word mongering and diplomatic double speak does not encourage war to rear its ugly head evermore. The net resultant of the justifications from their exercise is the effect of neutering and unfortunately ensuring (Alston)‘the blurring and expanding the boundaries of the applicable legal frameworks’ that were laid meticulously over many decades in the form of the UN Charter, the Laws of Armed Conflict ,the Convention of Human Rights ,the ICJ and the Geneva Convention amongst many others .

Abdullah Hussain Haroon said as Pakistan bears the brunt of targeted killings through drone strikes by foreign powers and publicly denounces the drone campaign upon its sovereign territory and integrity, public rumors abate of tacit understandings and the Wall Street Journal states as flimsy rationale the plea that ‘the US Govt interprets the Pakistani lack of response to a monthly memo informing them of the general locations of the planned drone strikes as tacit consent for the program’.

He said this raises several legal questions, none framed better than by the highly respected Philip Alston Professor of Law and Director of the Center of Human Rights and Global Justice at the prestigious New York University and Special Advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Alston raised before the UN, the ‘legality of targeted killings under the laws of war, international human rights law, and the law applicable when States invoke their right to Self – Defence; the definition and scope of armed conflicts in which the laws of war apply; the definition of who may be targeted and killed, when, and by whom, in the context of armed conflict, the rules which governing the amount of force that may be used, the legality of drone killing in particular and the International law requirements of transparency and accountability.

These then are the issues which must be pursued to logical conclusion if Pakistan desires to move to put to an end, our muted quandary and self inflicted predicament. But world authorities do not cagily expound their obvious beliefs, they bellow from the closest lectern.

He said in 2011 the Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns reporting to the General Assembly stated the current use of drones where there is not a recognized ‘armed conflict’, to kill an opponent, such as in Pakistan or Yemen, is highly problematic. While such operations may be designed to hit a particular target, civilian deaths remain, and it is used on such a large scale that it can hardly be described as targeted.

In 2013 Special Rapporteur UN Human Rights Commission, Ben Emerson stated ‘the US’ ongoing drone campaign in Pakistan is a violation of the South Asian nations sovereignty , as it is being conducted without the consent of its elected representatives or that of the legitimate government.’

He said as a member of the board, Pakistan should approach the Human Rights Council in Geneva and initiate a comprehensive debate on the international legal status of International drone attacks in areas not in armed conflict where no permission of the sovereign state has been obtained and its territorial integrity violated where innocent lives have been lost, without accountability. The resulting deliberation and preferably a substantial resolution should be sent to the ICJ and UN Security Council for further deliberations and settlement of the matter for posterity .

He suggested to move the ICJ independently or co jointly through the human rights council to deliberate and review the question of the legitimacy of drone attacks violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of an independent nation state under existing International laws .

Haroon further suggested that as a member of the Security Council, move the Council to deliberate in open session and debate the question of legitimacy of drones being used in areas not in armed conflict in locations situated in third countries without sovereign sanction and if the perpetrators cite that the above stated criteria are in compliance , force the lack of compliance upon accountability and the lack of aftermath reportage by the said states using drones thereby initiating a process of accountability to be submitted for clearance before the Security Council on a regular basis.