UNITED NATIONS- A top Pakistani diplomat has called for negotiations to address the issue of damaging effects unleashed by drone strikes, as he stressed the need for steps to protect children in armed conflict.“For its part, Pakistan believes that the use of armed drones violates sovereignty, causes civilian casualties, and puts communities at risk of reprisal attacks,” Ambassador Masood Khan told the UN Security Council on Monday.“Drone strikes radicalise disaffected communities and increase the number of terrorists. Urgent and intense negotiations are needed to address the issue of armed drones,” the Pakistani envoy said in a debate on Children in Armed Conflict.“We know that millions of children are trapped in wars and conflicts,” he said, adding: “They are killed, maimed, raped, and subjected to sexual violence. They are recruited, abducted and detained; and are coerced into becoming part of armed conflicts.”Noting some progress in slowing down this scourge, especially in developing norms and standards, Ambassador Masood Khan said much more needed to be done to ensure compliance, fight impunity and protect children’s rights in the face of new risks because of the evolving nature of the conflict.He also referred to the deployment of children as suicide bombers and human shields, and said that schools continue to be attacked, particularly affecting girls’ education.“Persistent perpetrators of violence against children must be brought to justice through national judicial systems and where applicable through the use of international justice mechanisms,” the Pakistani envoy told the 15-member Council.Masood Khan called for strengthening of the mandate of children and armed conflict, including its reporting and monitoring procedures. The focus, he said, should continue to be on situations of armed conflict and those threatening global peace and security.He also called for efforts to ensure information collected through the monitoring and reporting mechanism was accurate and verifiable. The Council should finalise objective, balanced listing and delisting criteria. The terms “armed attacks” and “armed groups” should be replaced with “terrorist attacks” and “terrorist groups” in cases where a clear determination had been made that the attacks were launched by terrorist groups.He reminded the participants that the Secretary General in his report had referred to an increasing number of child casualties in the course of the use of armed drones and has also called for adherence to the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality; and for transparent and effective investigations when child casualties occur.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 19-Jun-2013 here.