BBC news 2013-10-19

BBC News with Sue Montgomery

Saudi Arabia’s refusal to take up its seat on the United Nations Security Council a day after it was elected for the first time has provoked a mixed response. The Gulf kingdom explained its decision by saying that the council had failed in its duties towards both the Palestinians and Syria. Nada Tawfik reports.

Russia said it was surprised by the announcement and called Saudi Arabia’s criticism of the council on Syria strange. Russia along with China has long used its veto power to block resolutions aimed at punishing its ally President Assad and the Syrian regime for its use of force in the conflict. France has proposed a reform to the veto right and on Friday its UN ambassador Gérard Araud told reporters that he understood Saudi Arabia’s frustration.

A United Nations investigator has called on the United States to publish details of the number of civilian casualties caused by US drone strikes. Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, is assessing whether the strikes are legal and proportionate. Gordon Corera has more.

Ben Emmerson had spent a year travelling to countries which have seen drone strikes like Pakistan as well as talking to officials in the US and elsewhere involved in carrying them out. In Pakistan, he says he was told by the government that at least 400 civilians had been killed and possibly many hundreds more. But he says the role of the CIA in carrying out the strikes has created an almost insurmountable obstacle to transparency with the US failing to reveal its own data on civilian casualties. Mr Emmerson says he can see no security need to withhold this information.

The International Criminal Court has announced that the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta can stay at home for large parts of his trial. Mr Kenyatta is accused of crimes against humanity, allegedly perpetrated during the violent aftermath of the disputed 2007 elections.