UNITED NATIONS An independent UN human rights expert plans to call on the United States to end aerial drone attacks by the Central Intelligence Agency against suspected al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan, according to The New York Times Friday. Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said Thursday that he will deliver a report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva next week, arguing that the life and death power of drones should be executed by regular armed forces rather than intelligence agencies. But Alstons recommendations, which are expected to be delivered in a June 3 report, are not legally binding. He argues that conventional military forces are more accountable than intelligence agencies for investigating civilian casualties. With the defence department youve got may be not perfect but quite abundant accountability as demonstrated by what happens when a bombing goes wrong in Afghanistan, Alston said. The whole process that follows is very open. Whereas if the CIA is doing it, by definition they are not going to answer questions, not provide any information, and not do any follow-up that we know about. Under international law, soldiers representing conventional militaries are allowed to kill enemy troops in war zones. The previous Bush administration issued a policy manual in 2007 which defined murder in violation of the laws of war as killing someone who did not meet the requirements for lawful combatancy. These requirements include being part of a regular army or otherwise wearing a uniform. According to this definition of murder, CIA drone operators, who do not wear the uniforms of conventional soldiers, could theoretically be considered war criminals and subject to prosecution in Pakistani courts. Paul Weiss, a CIA spokeswoman, said that the agencys operations take place in a framework of both law and government oversight. It would be wrong to suggest the CIA is not accountable, he said, although she refused to discuss or confirm specific activities. By some accounts, drone attacks - which reportedly commence at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia - have increased during president Barack Obamas time in office. The Long War Journal, a blog that uses open-source information to track US operations in the Middle East, tallied five US aerial attacks in Pakistan in 2007 and 36 in 2008. In 2009, Obamas first year in office, aerial attacks increased 47 per cent to 53, with unmanned drones responsible for most strikes. Alston, who is a New York University law professor, will also call for new international rules to govern the use of drones to ensure they are deployed in line with the laws of war. The CIAs programme of drone strikes against suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents has never been publicly acknowledged by US administration officials, even though it has been written about extensively in the media. A CIA spokesman said last month that the intelligence agencys counter terror operations are conducted in strict accord with the law. In my view there is no legal prohibition on CIA agents, or you and me, deciding to take a 'direct part in hostilities, which is not to say that it is desirable, Alston told an American news agency. The problem for me is that when this happens, especially as a matter of state policy, there is no willingness to comply with any of the requirements as to transparency and accountability which are central to international humanitarian law. In an interview Tuesday on Australias ABC radio, Alston said only the United States, Israel and Russia currently use drones to carry out targeted killings, but other countries were likely to begin using them for similar purposes in future. Weve got to look at rules for the future, which will govern all countries, he told ABC Radio. Alston, an Australian, suggested the rules should specify that suspects who arent wearing uniforms could only be targeted if they are directly observed taking part in hostilities. More importantly, he said, countries needed to ensure that those charged with carrying out the drone strikes could be held accountable. We have to know who they are targeting. Not lists of names or anything like that, but the criteria that are being used, and then theres got to be some follow-up, Alston said in the radio interview. The CIA, by definition, is not accountable except directly to President Barack Obama, he said. Alston suggested that, unless the intelligence agencys work could be made transparent, the role of conducting drone strikes should be transferred to the military, who were better versed in - and capable of abiding by - international law.