[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Tuesday insisted that US drone strikes [JURIST backgrounder] must operate within international law. The secretary-general hailed the country’s lead role in UN peacekeeping operations and addressed the controversial weapons in a speech [text] at the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad, stating, “[a]s I have often and consistently said, the use of armed drones, like any other weapon, should be subject to long-standing rules of international law, including international humanitarian law. This is the very clear position of the United Nations. Every effort should be made to avoid mistakes and civilian casualties.”
In June Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile] directed the Pakistan Foreign Office [official website] to contact US Ambassador Richard Hoagland to criticize US drone strikes. Sharif communicated that Pakistan disapproves [NPR report] of the drone strikes and considers them a violation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Sharif stated it is crucial to create a joint strategy to prevent US drone strikes. The use of drone strikes by the US has come under attack recently. In May Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan of the High Court of Peshawar in Pakistan ruled that US drone strikes in the region are illegal [JURIST report]. In March Judge Merrick Garland of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] reversed a lower court opinion [opinion, PDF] that permitted the CIA [official website] to refuse to confirm or deny [JURIST report] whether it has records pertaining to the use of unmanned drones to kill suspect terrorists. Also in March US Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter [JURIST report] to Senator Rand Paul suggesting that a drone strike on US soil would be legal only in extraordinary circumstances, following a lengthy filibuster by the senator in the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director.