‘US drone strikes defy intl. law, UN charter, Geneva conventions’
Islamabad has said that the non-UN-sanctioned US assassination drone strikes against the country are in “violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”
The United States claims that its airstrikes target militants who cross the border into and out of Afghanistan, but local sources say most of the victims of the attacks have been civilians.
Pakistanis have held many demonstrations to condemn the United States violations of the country’s sovereignty.
On January 31, President Barack Obama confirmed that the US uses drones in Pakistan and other countries.
In reply to questions about the use of the assassination drones by his administration in a chat with web users on Google+
, the US president said “a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA.”
Press TV has conducted an interview with former assistant to the UN secretary-general, Dennis Halliday to further discuss the issue.
The program also offers the opinions of two other guests: Antiwar activist Tighe Barry and retired senior Pakistani Air Force Officer, Sultan M. Hali.
What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Speaking of these illegal attacks Dennis Halliday not only are they illegal but let’s look at the aspect of it being collective punishment. Isn’t collective punishment illegal according to international law and if that is the case why is there silence from much of the international community?
Halliday: Firstly collective punishment is often associated with the application of sanctions-- sanctions that punish an entire nation state and its people although the punishment may be intended for the sovereign or the dictator or the government in power.
In the case of Pakistan this is a total violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan by the United States which in itself is an extraordinary and continued development. Secondly I’ve just heard that it’s been condemned by the United Nations and I’m very happy to hear that.
Thirdly it’s a violation of the [UN] charter and the provision of the charter which prohibit nation states attacking each other in this sort of violence and fourthly it’s a violation of the Geneva conventions and protocols which very specifically preclude the killing of civilians.
And I believe we have to assume that the Americans know perfectly well that precision instruments are not predator drones that kill civilians in large numbers whether it’s 70 percent or 10 percent, it’s grossly unacceptable and I would hope that Washington and the United States would cease the use of drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and everywhere else in addition.
Mr. Halliday under the US administration of Obama, the world has witnessed the expansion of drone strikes now this is actually after the so called warmongering presidency of George W. Bush and now we have the Nobel peace laureate [US President Barack Obama] that has actually expanded these drone strikes to so many places. Why has that happened, especially under this administration?
Halliday: It’s an extraordinary situation where the Nobel peace prize winner as you pointed out is now a warmonger and is expanding US aggression into Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere. To see the sovereignty of Pakistan violations I guess just about every day is just an average.
I would hope that Pakistan would do more about it; would block all access to Afghanistan by NATO forces and the US, but you have not an adviser to Pakistan; they have their own reasons and maybe the Pakistan military is no more careful about human life and civilian life than all the American forces.
But for Mr. Obama to continue this road and to make decisions personally apparently in terms of drone strikes and the use of predator drones designed to kill supposedly their opponents, terrorists whoever they are but inevitably kill civilians is an extraordinary situation and to see the White House intimately involved in this process of assassination and murder to me is deeply offensive and total violation of international law, the UN charter and as I said before the Geneva conventions which protect civilians from acts of warfare.
If there is no pressure by the United Nations on the United States, you just said you’ve heard that they have condemned the usage but will that condemnation actually turn into any type of pressure to force the hand of the United States?
Halliday: Well, sadly no because it seems that the United States has absolutely no respect for the United Nations and its charter and its membership or international law. They have violated since the invasion of Iraq by George Bush and many other different ways, the rules and regulations of the United Nations have been broken and the United States and other permanent members.
Mr. Halliday, what will it take now to be able to stop these drone attacks? We’ve talked about the problems in general and we’ve talked about basically the impotence of the international community.
So if Washington is not getting any pressure from the international community, they’re not being condemned what would it take in order to stop it and not have them continue to expand their drone operations in so many countries?
Halliday: Well, it’s sad to say perhaps but I believe the American people have got to take responsibility. They are individually responsible under a democratic system for what their government does and the fact this war has not been endorsed by Congress frankly is no excuse and carries no weight.
They have a president in the White House, they have a Congress so they’re supporting it, they’re budgeting for warfare, the Pentagon’s budget is probably over a trillion dollars by now; the damage is well easy to be seen.
But as our friend in Washington said the media in this country does not reach the vast majority of America; they don’t really know what’s going on but if they do know, they don’t want to know the details but they are responsible-that’s a democracy.
So I think the American people have got to take action. The UN cannot, will not-- it’s corrupted itself. The rest of us are not responsible for Mr. Obama. The American people have got to make a decision and change the sort of government that they have, committed to aggression, jingoistic patriotism, the violence that we’ve seen for many years now from the United States of America.