The U.N. is taking the first steps in a process which inevitably will lead to various U.N. agencies and international N.G.O.s claiming that the drone strikes ordered by the U.S. government constitute war crimes, as reported by The New York Times:
A senior United Nations official is expected to call on the United States next week to stop Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes against people suspected of belonging to Al Qaeda, complicating the Obama administration’s growing reliance on that tactic in Pakistan.
Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said Thursday that he would deliver a report on June 3 to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva declaring that the “life and death power” of drones should be entrusted to regular armed forces, not intelligence agencies. He contrasted how the military and the C.I.A. responded to allegations that strikes had killed civilians by mistake.
While the U.N. has not taken the position yet that such attacks constitute war crimes, the U.S. government is concerned with where this process may lead:
In recent months, top lawyers for the State Department and the Defense Department have tried to square the idea that the C.I.A.’s drone program is lawful with the United States’ efforts to prosecute Guantánamo Bay detainees accused of killing American soldiers in combat, according to interviews and a review of military documents….
Mr. Alston, the United Nations official, said he agreed with the Obama legal team that “it is not per se illegal” under the laws of war for C.I.A. operatives to fire drone missiles “because anyone can stand up and start to act as a belligerent.” Still, he emphasized, they would not be entitled to battlefield immunity like soldiers.
I warned about this previously in Drone Strikes Put Obama Admin Officials At Risk, noting how the same Mr. Alston previously raised the issue of drone strikes constituting human rights violations:
“My concern is that drones/Predators are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” he said.
The use of human rights laws against democracies defending themselves against terrorists is a favorite tactic, and Israel is the usual target. The goal is to tie the hands of civil societies through false moral equivalencies, in which the terrorist trying to kill civilians is equated to the people trying to stop the terrorist.
Expect more of this, as the world becomes less enthralled with Obama, and seeks to give him some small measure of the attention given George W. Bush.
What goes around comes around, and it will come around for Obama and those in his administration who were so quick to accuse Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld of violating international and domestic law as they struggled to find a means of stopping al–Qaeda.