Pakistan’s Case for Sovereignty in UN
The political and military leadership of Pakistan have unanimously decided to take the drone issue to the United Nations. This consensus was developed in All Parties Conference (APC) convened by the Prime Minister, which was attended by all the parliamentary heads of political parties, COAS and DG ISI. The text of the resolution states, “We have noted with concern the continued use of drone attacks by United States of America in spite of clear and unambiguous protests by the democratically elected Government of Pakistan. We are unanimous that the use of drones is not only a continued violation of our territorial integrity but also detrimental to our resolve and efforts of eliminating extremism and terrorism from our country. The Federal Government should consider the possibility of taking the drone issue to the United Nations as drone attacks are a violation of International Law.”
It is a positive sign that the Government has decided to take this issue to the UN as drone strikes are not only violative of Country’s sovereignty but these strikes also act as catalyst in fuelling terrorist incidents in Pakistan, thus obstructing the way of finding a solution to terrorism problems. It is pertinent to mention that USA is permanent member of the UN Security Council and it can veto any decision or resolution in the UN over the issue of drone strikes. Therefore, the success of Pakistan’s case will depend on an offensive diplomatic campaign to get the support of permanent members of Security Council and other important friendly countries for this cause. Notwithstanding the chances of being vetoed at the Security Council, the initiation of a debate itself shall put the checks on drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere.
No doubt, Pakistan’s principle stance on drone strikes is just and many dignitaries from UN have given statements against the use of drone technology. The Secretary General of UN, Ban Ki-Moon, recently urged that the usage of drones as a weapon must be subject to international law. During his visit to Pakistan in August, he stated that drones should be used for gathering intelligence; rather than as instruments of aggression. Many other experts and officials of UN also consider use of drones, as means to target suspected militants, illegal. During recently held open debate at UNSC, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed serious concerns over human rights implications for the protection of civilians from armed drone strikes carried out in the context of counter-terrorism and military operations in Pakistan, Yemen and Gaza.” She urged relevant states to clarify the legal basis for such strikes. Ben Emmerson, the UN special Rapporteur, toured Pakistan from 11-13 March to gather first-hand information on drone strikes and their impact on civilians for his up coming report. He expressed that the drone campaign involved use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and therefore tantamount to violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. He is expected to submit his report to the UN by the end of this year.
The timing of this Resolution is indeed quite favorable for Pakistan. The annual session of United Nations’ General Assembly will commence later this month and many Heads of the States will be in New York. Pakistan’s Prime Minister will not only get a chance to make a strong case in his address but he will also find opportunities to convince other world leaders in his sideline meetings with them. At this juncture, US President Obama is also in troubled waters due to his inclinations towards striking Syria without authorization of the UN. Therefore, a well articulated diplomatic campaign can compel him to roll back his active drone policy.
The support of European countries is also very critical for making a successful case against drone strikes in the UN. The European Union and its member states have high respect for International law and norms of interstate relations. In fact, these traditions are essence of European integration and basic cause of success of EU. Britain and France are permanent members of UNSC with Veto power status and their support can be very helpful for making a firm case at the UN. Therefore, the Foreign Office should also engage these countries. The current government of Pakistan also enjoys good relations with the politicians of Pakistani origin in European countries specially in Britain. An effective utilization of these contacts can be very helpful in winning the support of these countries.
During his stay in Pakistan, Ban Ki-Moon acknowledged that Pakistan is the largest contributor in the UN Peace Missions all over the world and he lauded the sacrifices of Pakistani troops for international peace. Now, people expect that Pakistan’s case for respect of its sovereignty will get full support at the UN. Our Foreign Office shall therefore exploit the opportunity for undertaking the campaign and we hope Pakistan will prepare a successful case for its sovereignty.