While Emmerson condemned secret rendition and waterboarding as violations of international law, he made it known that in early 2013, a UN investigations unit will be formed, dedicated exclusively to examining the legality of drone attacks which include civilian deaths.
The UN investigations unit will present the first legal challenge to the Obama Administration’s policy on drone strikes, which has failed to trigger any sort of organized opposition, despite causing much furor in the international community.
Earlier in 2012, Emmerson labeled some of the drone strikes as “war crimes,” as did his colleague Christof Heyns — the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings.
“I will be launching an investigation unit within the special procedures of the [UN] Human Rights Council to inquire into individual drone attacks,” Emmerson announced.
Besides individual drone attacks, the UN inquiry will look into other counter-terrorism operations where civilians have been killed. Emerson is a sharp critic of American foreign policy and would not back down at Harvard.
The global war paradigm has done immense damage to a previously shared international consensus on the legal framework underlying both international human rights law and international humanitarian law. It has also given a spurious justification to a range of serious human rights and humanitarian law violations.
…the [global] war paradigm was always based on the flimsiest of reasoning, and was not supported even by close allies of the US.
Emmerson also attacked Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on his support of drone strikes and waterboarding, likening him to the Cambodian despot, Pol Pot.