UN to investigate US drone attacks

“I will be launching an investigation unit within the special procedures of the [U.N.] Human Rights Council to inquire into individual drone attacks, and other forms of targeted killings conducted in counterterrorism operations, in which it has been alleged that civilian casualties have been inflicted,” he said.

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Emmerson said he will pursue the investigation with Christof Heyns, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, according to the Post. The investigation will focus on drone attacks and other forms of targeted killings that lead to civilian deaths.

As special rapporteurs, Emmerson and Heyns act independently within the U.N., which means the probe has not received an endorsement from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

The Obama administration has significantly increased the use of drones to target militants in Pakistan and Yemen. For a long time the administration would not acknowledge the use of drones, the administration’s top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan offered a public defense of the program this year, saying it was a “legal” and “ethical” tool to target terrorists.

At the presidential debate this week, Mitt Romney said he was in full support of the Obama administration’s drone program and believes the United States should continue to use drones to target terrorists.

“I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world,” Romney said.

“And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that and entirely, and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology, and believe that we should continue to use it, to continue to go after the people that represent a threat to this nation and to our friends,” he said.