Statement given by Ambassador Masood Khan, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, following the presentation of the report on armed drones in the Third Committee of the United General Assembly. (October 23, 2013)

Mr. Chairman,

I am taking the floor to thank Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson for his report on the use of armed drones in various parts of the world. I also thank Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns for his report.

We are grateful to Mr. Emmerson for especially focussing on the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.

We compliment Mr. Emmerson for undertaking such an extensive effort to gather data and authoritative legal opinion on the devastating impact of the use of armed drones on civilians. We are glad that other reputed NGOs have come to similar or supportive conclusions.

We are pleased to see that he has met decision- makers and ranking officials, consulted top legal experts and academics, attended workshops and seminars, and, most importantly, visited the countries targeted by drone strikes.

We deeply appreciate his due diligence, methodology and his effort to collect direct evidence. His is not a dest report.

The Special Rapporteur visited Pakistan in April this year. This visit provided him an opportunity him to interact with relevant stakeholders. The Government of Pakistan extended full cooperation to him.

This is a seminal report and it sets new standards for precision in an area which some consider to be uncharted legal territory, but which we believe is sufficiently covered by the body of existing law. Pakistan broadly shares the new legal questions raised by Mr. Ben Emmerson.

And we broadly agree with the thrust of his analysis. His conclusions are compelling.

We fully agree with the Special Rapporteur that the continued use of remotely piloted aircraft amounts to a violation of Pakistani sovereignty.

I will talk a little later about the applicability of the law of self-defense.

It is disturbing to note that the use of drones is proliferating, as mentioned by the Special Rapporteur.

We do not agree with the Special Rapporteur that "while the fact that civilians have been killed or injured does not necessarily point to a violation of international humanitarian law, it undoubtedly raises issues of accountability and transparency."

We believe that civilian casualties as a result of the drone strikes do violate international humanitarian law, as well as international law and human rights law.

The use of drones violates Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity. In the asymmetric terrorist war, the well established humanitarian principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution must be observed. This is not being done.

There is also obvious geographical disjunction between the location of drone strikes and primary battlefield.

A signature strike has to be justified under IHL or IHRL to prove that it is a legitimate act of self-defense. Legally, it is important to define the geographical scope of the conflict. It is not justifiable to launch strikes in the context of non-international armed conflict in the context of Pakistan-Afghanistan border area.

In Pakistan, all drones strikes are a chilling reminder that reprisal strikes by terrorists are around the corner. They put all Pakistanis at risk. The psychological impact of the use of drones on the relatives of civilians killed in an inhumane manner incites sentiment and hatred and radicalizes more people.

Drone strikes are therefore counterproductive.

Let me also state authoritatively that no explicit or implicit consent, approval or acquiescence has been given by the Government of Pakistan for the drone strikes.

We suggest to the Special Rapporteur that there is no grey area in the use of armed drones when they kill innocent men, women and children. Killing unarmed, innocent civilians is a clear breach of international law.

We call for the immediate cessation of drone attacks inside the territorial borders of Pakistan. This is a demand that has been made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, our Parliament and the All Parities Conference.

This is what Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif conveyed to President Obama during their meeting two day s ago, on October 23, in Washington and urged the Untied States to end drone strikes.

We hope that the US would respond to this urgent call from Pakistan anchored in international humanitarian law.

We understand that Mr. Emmerson has presented a preliminary report. We call on the Special Rapporteur to make stronger recommendations in his final report that will help enforce a more stringent, prohibitive regimen for the use of drones to save civilians from unforeseen, instant death, injury and disability.

Pakistan hopes that the final report would suggest practical measures to advance the debate on the legality of the use of armed drones at the UN fora and focus more sharply on their disastrous humanitarian and human rights consequences .

Pakistan stands ready to contribute constructively to build international consensus on the legality of the use of drones.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.