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Ben Emmerson, The UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights
Forensic Architecture in collaboration with SITU Research
Forensic Architecture Research Team:
Eyal Weizman (Principal Investigator); Susan Schuppli (Senior Research Fellow, Project Coordinator); Jacob Burns (Research Assistant); Steffen Kraemer (Researcher, Film Editor); Reiner Beelitz (Architectural Modelling); Francesco Sebregondi (Researcher); and Chris Cobb-Smith (Research Advisor)
SITU Research Team:
McKenna Cole; Akshay Mehra; Charles-Antoine Perrault; Bradley Samuels; and Xiaowei Wang
Amal Alamuddin, Philippa Webb, Annie O’Reilly, Jessica Dorsey, Sajid Suleman, Anna Bonini, Dawood Ahmed, Krista Nelson, Kristen Johnson and Matthew Oresman and all of their team at Patton Boggs, LLP, Peter Vedel Kessing, Michelle Lesh, Alon Margalit, Siavash Rahbari, Jessica Corsi, Lisa Hajjar, Eliav Lieblich, Mike Canada, Joshua Andresen, Ulrike Franke, Misa Zgonec-Rozej, John Jones QC, Todd Pierce and Colleen Rowley, Iain Morley, QC, Jasmine Zerinini, Pippa Woodrow, Ella Batchelor, Rehana Popal, Nathan Rasiah, James Edenborough, Sarika Arya, Alinda Vermeer, Bridget Prince, Chris Woods, Benedicte Diot, Johanna Hortolani, Blinne Ni Ghralaigh
Conclusions and Recommendations
If used in strict compliance with the principles of international humanitarian law, remotely piloted aircraft are capable of reducing the risk of civilian casualties in armed conflict by significantly improving the situational awareness of military commanders.
Having regard to the duty of States to protect civilians in armed conflict, the Special Rapporteur considers that, in any case in which civilians have been, or appear to have been, killed, the State responsible is under an obligation to conduct a prompt, independent and impartial fact-finding inquiry and to provide a detailed public explanation. This obligation is triggered whenever there is a plausible indication from any source that civilian casualties may have been sustained, including where the facts are unclear or the information is partial or circumstantial. The obligation arises whether the attack was initiated by remotely piloted aircraft or other means, and whether it occurred within or outside an area of active hostilities.
The Special Rapporteur identifies herein a number of legal questions on which there is currently no clear international consensus. He considers that there is an urgent and imperative need to seek agreement between States on these issues. To that end he is currently consulting Member States with a view to clarifying their position on these questions. He urges all States to respond as comprehensively as possible.
In particular, the Special Rapporteur urges the United States to further clarify its position on the legal and factual issues raised herein; to declassify, to the maximum extent possible, information relevant to its lethal extraterritorial counter-terrorism operations; and to release its own data on the level of civilian casualties inflicted through the use of remotely piloted aircraft, together with information on the evaluation methodology used.
The Special Rapporteur:
• Calls upon the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel, to disclose the results of any fact-finding inquiries into the alleged incidents listed in Part C of the present report.
• Calls upon any State that has given valid consent to another State to use lethal force on its territory to disclose the results of any fact-finding inquiries into the alleged incidents listed in Part C of the present report.
• Calls upon Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Palestine, as the States on whose territory those strikes reportedly took place, to provide as much information as possible in connection with those strikes.
• Encourages all States to respond to his requests for clarification of their position in relation to the questions raised in paragraph 67 of the present report.
• Recommends to the Human Rights Council that it should adopt a resolution in the terms outlined in paragraph 69 of the present report.