life, if used inappropriately,” the UN expert on extrajudicial killings said.“If the right to life is to be secured in the use of drones, it is imperative that thelimitations posed by international law on the use of lethal force, as for any other lethalweapon, are strictly adhered to and not weakened by broad justifications of dronestrikes,” Mr. Heyns emphasized.
“Both States using drones and States on whose territory drones are used have their own obligations to respect international standards and prevent violations,” Mr. Heynspointed out, while emphasising that “the legal framework for maintaining internationalpeace and the protection of the right to life is a coherent and well-established system.“There is no need for new law,” the human rights expert says in his report, cautioningagainst the wide and permissive interpretations of the current international rules andstandards.The UN expert on counter-terrorism noted, “there are a number of legal questions onwhich either no clear international consensus, or where current practices andinterpretations appear to need further discussion.”“There is an urgent and imperative need to seek agreement between States on theseissues,” Mr. Emmerson said, as he explained to the UN General Assembly the mainareas of controversy and the competing arguments.
Accountability and transparency
In their reports, both experts stress the crucial importance of transparency andaccountability obligations of States, and offer concrete recommendations to theinternational community in this regard.“The single greatest obstacle to an evaluation of the civilian impact of drone strikes islack of transparency”, Mr. Emmerson said. “In any case in which civilians have been,or appear to have been killed, the State responsible is under an obligation to conducta prompt, independent and impartial fact-finding inquiry and to provide a detailedpublic explanation.”“States must be transparent about the development, acquisition and use of armeddrones. They must publicly disclose the legal basis for the use of drones, operationalresponsibility, criteria for targeting, impact (including civilian casualties), andinformation about alleged violations, investigations and prosecutions”, Mr. Heynsurged.
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