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Global consensus grows for greater transparency on drone civilian deaths

Key members of the United Nations – including some of Washington’s closest allies – broke with a decade of tradition on Friday when they endorsed calls for greater transparency over drone civilian deaths.

The European Union, the United Kingdom and Switzerland were joined by the Russian Federation and China in calling for greater openness from those carrying out drone strikes. Pakistan was particularly strident, insisting that there was ‘no implicit or explicit consent’ for US drone strikes on its territory, which it insists have a ‘disastrous humanitarian impact.’ In previous debates states had refused to support similar calls for greater transparency.

The nations were responding to a pair of reports delivered to a busy session of the General Assembly in New York by special rapporteurs Ben Emmerson QC and Professor Christof Heyns. The studies, announced a year ago in London, are part of an ongoing UN investigation into the legal and ethical problems posed by the use of armed drones – especially in non-conventional conflicts.

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