Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, speaks at a press conference in Brussels on December 3, 2019. (Photo: Aris Oikonomou/AFP via Getty Images)

Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Demands Official UN Probe of Soleimani Assassination

"Messages and bilateral exchanges are not enough," said Agnes Callamard.

Jake Johnson

The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions on Monday called for an impartial probe into the legality of the U.S. assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, warning that strongly worded denunciations from the international community are far from a sufficient response.

"Messages and bilateral exchanges are not enough," Agnes Callamard tweeted in response to U.N. Secretary General António Guterres' call for deescalation of military tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Callamard urged Guterres to activate Article 99 of the U.N. charter and "establish an impartial inquiry into [the] lawfulness of Soleimani's killing and events leading up to it." Article 99 gives the secretary general authority to bring to the U.N. Security Council "any matter which... may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security."

Callamard tweeted last week that the U.S. drone strike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad was likely a violation of international law, an assessment echoed by other legal experts.

President Donald Trump and members of his administration justified the strike on the grounds that Soleimani was plotting "imminent" attacks on American forces in Iraq, but the White House has yet to present any evidence supporting its self-defense narrative. Callamard told Reuters Saturday that the U.S. assassination of  Soleimani "appears far more retaliatory for past acts than anticipatory for imminent self-defense."

"Lawful justifications for such killings are very narrowly defined and it is hard to imagine how any of these can apply to these killings," Callamard added.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo failed to cite a specific example of the supposedly imminent threat that warranted Soleimani's assassination.

Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law, argued in a New York Times op-ed Monday that the U.S. assassination of Soleimani was both "illegal" and a "predictable" consequence of the dangerous precedents set by the so-called war on terror.

"In employing the euphemism 'targeted killing' for a member of a sovereign state," Greenberg wrote, "the Trump administration has exposed the faulty assumptions and dangerous legacy posed by the war on terror's targeted killing policy."

"A policy that attempted to cordon off the war on terror from the rules of war, that depended on 'trust me' government, and that rationalized the expansion of executive authority without congressional approval," said Greenberg, "set the foundation for last week's killing and its unleashing of threats of violent retaliation."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Next Up? Legalize It': Advocates Cheer Biden Move to Pardon Marijuana Convictions

"This is what pressure and advocacy look like," said anti-poverty activist Joe Sanberg. "This must be the first of many steps to ending our decadeslong failed policies on marijuana."

Brett Wilkins ·


At Least 66 Clinics in 15 States Have Ended Abortion Care Post-Dobbs

Over a third of those facilities have fully closed, meaning patients also lost "access to contraceptive care, STI testing and treatment, and pregnancy care," said a Guttmacher Institute researcher.

Jessica Corbett ·


Fury Over Privatized Grid Grows as Tens of Thousands Still Without Power in Puerto Rico

Until the U.S. island's colonial status "is rectified," wrote one observer, "it's a safe bet that Puerto Rico will never fully recover."

Kenny Stancil ·


US Jobless Claims Jump as Fed Shoves Economy to 'Precipice of Global Recession'

One expert called on Powell "to think twice before plunging our economy into a wholly avoidable recession and completely undoing one of the strongest job recoveries on record."

Jake Johnson ·


'Flying Blind': Analysis Shows World's Biggest Polluters Hide Climate-Related Financial Risks

"When companies don't take climate-related matters into account, their financial statements may include overstated assets, understated liabilities, and overstated profits," said one expert at analysis firm Carbon Tracker.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo