Are drone attacks legal?

The United Nations’ human rights chief is raising legal questions about the continuous drone attacks being conducted by the U.S. in Pakistan. Navi Pillay, speaking after a UN fact-finding visit to Pakistan, said the U.S. drone attacks “raise serious questions about compliance with international law, in particular the principle of distinction and proportionality.” For one, she said, who is accountable when drone attacks are conducted outside the military chain of command? Drone attacks have become a central part of US counter-terror operations. Al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi was reportedly killed in a drone strike in Pakistan earlier this week.

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