A Legal Assessment of the US Drone Strikes in Pakistan

in International Criminal Law Review
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While assessing the legality of the US drone strikes in Pakistan, this article takes into account the nature of armed conflict which has potential to be converted into an international armed conflict (IAC) from a non-international armed conflict (NIAC). The growing trust-deficit between Pakistan and the US is catalyst for determination of nature of armed conflict. The arguments based on tacit consent of Pakistan no longer stands valid after a clear protest by Pakistani officials at national, bilateral and international level. It also examines the observance of the rules of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in comparison with official US statements. Continued drone strikes are now being considered as counter-productive and resulting in increased suicide bombing in various cities of Pakistan. The author suggests a collaborative effort by considering other social, political and economic factors to minimize the violation of IHL for desired results.

A Legal Assessment of the US Drone Strikes in Pakistan

in International Criminal Law Review



Moirsupra note 3 pp. 34-53.


Moirsupra note 3 p. 38-39.


Jelena Pejic‘The Protective Scope of Common Article 3: more than meets the eye’International Review of the Red Cross (93) (2011) 6. Available at: http://www.icrc.org/fre/assets/files/review/2011/irrc-881-pejic.pdf.


Pejicsupra note 11 p. 194.


James Stewart‘Towards a single definition of armed conflict in international humanitarian law: A critique of internationalized armed conflict’International Review of the Red Cross (850)(2003) 313-350. Available at: <://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1946414>.


Schmittsupra note 15 p. 2.


Pejicsupra note 11 p 7.


Mary Ellen O’Connell‘The Choice of Law against Terrorism’Journal of National Security Law and Policy(4) ( 2010) 350 356-357; Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 10-20 p. 9 available at <://ssrn.com/abstract=1654049> 8 August 2012.


Kohsupra note 27.


Richard F. Grimmett‘Authorization for Use of Military Force in Response to the 9/11 Attacks’CRS Report for Congress(P.L. 107-40): Legislative History Order Code RS22357 updated 16 January 2007. Available at: <://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22357.pdf> 10 July 2012.


Jane Mayer‘The Predator War, What are the Risks of the C.I.A.’s Covert Drone Program?’The New Yorker26 Oct. 2009. Also see Mary Ellen O’Connell ‘Unlawful Killing with Combat Drones A Case Study of Pakistan 2004-2009’ Notre Dame Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-43. Note 46 p. 10.


O’Connellibid. p. 11.


Declan Walash‘Air strike kills Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud’The Guardian7 August 2009.<://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/07/baitullah-mehsud-dead-missile-taliban> 15 July 2012.


O’Connellsupra note 37 p. 10. Also see Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann Revenge of the Drones New America Foundation 19 October 2009. Jane Mayer reports that “between January and October 2009 estimates suggest the C.I.A. attacks have killed between three hundred and twenty-six and five hundred and thirty-eight people. Critics say that many of the victims have been innocent bystanders including children”.


Jefferson Morley‘The CIA pressures Obama to step up drone attacks in Yemen’Truth Alliance Network19 Apr. 2012. <://www.truthalliance.net/Archive/News/tabid/67/ID/9023/The-CIA-pressures-Obama-to-step-up-drone-attacks-in-Yemen.aspx> 30 August 2012.


Nils MelzerTargeted Killings inInternational Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press2008) p. 332 also see p. 313-2 note 67 of the same book. “While conventional IHL applicable in non-international armed conflict does not use the term ‘combatant’ it operates the principle of distinction based on the same criteria which define that category in international armed conflict.”


Melzersupra note 58.

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