In a move that caused a ripple effect across the Middle East, Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad's international airport on January 3. On that day, the Pentagon announced the attack was carried out "at the direction of the president". In a new report examining the legality of armed drones and the Soleimani killing in particular, Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial and arbitrary killings, said the US raid that killed Soleimani was "unlawful". Callamard presented her report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday. The United States, which is not a member after quitting the council in 2018, rejected the report saying it gave "a pass to terrorists". In Callamard's view, the consequences of targeted killings by armed drones have been neglected by states.
The United Nations's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary killings presented a new report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Agnes Callamard's investigation focused on the legality of armed drones including one that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad's airport on January 3. It concluded the United States acted unlawfully in carrying out the attack. The US, meanwhile, denounced her findings. Callamard spoke to Al Jazeera about her probe and the future of drone warfare.
The US drone strike that killed Iran's top general Qassem Soleimani was "unlawful", the United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings concluded in a report on Tuesday. US President Donald Trump ordered the killing in a January 3 drone strike near Baghdad international airport. Soleimani was "the world's top terrorist" and "should have been terminated long ago", Trump said at the time. Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the attack. Callamard concluded that it was an "arbitrary killing" that violated the UN charter.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday pushed back against a U.N. report that claimed the U.S. strike that killed Islamic Republic Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani breached international law -- with Pompeo describing the conclusions as "spurious." The report was submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council by Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, and concluded that claims by the U.S. about the justification for the strike that killed the Iranian general were exaggerated and lacked evidence. Soleimani, the mastermind of Tehran's military and terror strategies abroad, was taken out in January by the U.S., which described his death as a defensive measure to prevent an "imminent attack" on U.S. interests after an attack on the embassy in Baghdad days earlier. "No evidence has been provided that Gen. Soleimani specifically was planning an imminent attack against U.S. interests, particularly in Iraq, for which immediate action was necessary and would have been justified," Callamard said. The report also accused the U.S. of "violating the territorial integrity of Iraq" and violated the U.N. Charter which "prohibits the threat or use of force and calls on all members to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of other states."
On June 30, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's address to the UN Security Council calling for an arms embargo on Iran to be extended was expected to dominate the international news agenda. However, Iran's judiciary stole the morning's headlines by issuing an arrest warrant for Donald Trump the day before. Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said on Monday that Trump, along with more than 30 others accused of involvement in the January 3 drone attack that killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani, face "murder and terrorism charges". The prosecutor added that Tehran asked Interpol for help in detaining the US president. The same day, the US special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, denounced the warrant as a "propaganda stunt" at a press conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.