The Art of Facts

A LEGAL BLOG about Fact-finding and Armed ConflicTS

The Golden Age of Human Rights Fact-Finding?

If you are reading these lines you may still be puzzled by one single thought… “This is just another blog among so many…” Well that’s good because this is precisely this type of thinking that made me embark into this project of a new blog.

Fact-finding about allegations of abuses in times of war is not new. What’s strikingly new is the proliferation of actors engaged in human rights fact-finding, with many distinct agendas. So this could well be the Golden Age of human rights fact-finding, unfortunately this would also mean that there are too many violations to investigate.

The tragedy of the conflict in Syria first comes to mind: from the Commission of Inquiry on Syria presenting its 6th Report to the Human Rights Council last week to the UN team of inspectors concluding yesterday that there is clear and convincing evidence that chemical weapons were used in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August.

Fact-finding raises a myriad of issues and debates that deserve more attention: from the impact of social media on human rights monitoring to the limitations of international criminal trials in establishing the truth. The need to design tools for a better harmonization of fact-finding practices in line with ethical principles and to analyze further the link between human rights fact-finding and international criminal prosecutions are some of the questions addressed by various initiatives such as those by the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research and the Hague Institute for Global Justice.

This blog will modestly try to put into perspective some of the developments in the area of human rights fact-finding, such as the possible use of satellite heat sensors to detect attacks on villages or the challenges in proving the violations of certain international humanitarian law norms.

But make no mistake, this blog is also moved by my experience in the field, talking to victims who are often left with only one thing… their story to tell. This blog is about those who seek the truth in the mist of claims and counter claims made by all parties to a conflict; a truth as a tribute to the dead and the survivors.

2 thoughts on “The Golden Age of Human Rights Fact-Finding?
  • Samuel Boutruche Zarevac says:

    Dear Theo,
    I congratulate you on the creation of your blog. It is much needed and timely to explore and reflect on the challenges posed by human rights fact-finding in order to strengthen this fundamental task, for the sake of international human rights and criminal law but, most importantly, for sake of the victims themselves.
    Wishing you all the best,

    • Luc Côté says:

      Cher Théo
      c’est une magnifique idée. On suivera avec attention les commentaires sur un sujet qui a grandement besoin d’être exploré avec rigueur.

      Luc Côté

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