International Commissions of Inquiry, Commissions on Human Rights, Fact-Finding missions and other Investigations


United Nations mandated commissions of inquiry, fact-finding missions and investigations are increasingly being used to respond to situations of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, whether protracted or resulting from sudden events, and to promote accountability for such violations and counter impunity. These international investigative bodies have been established by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights, the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

As part of its core work, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) provides expertise and support to commissions and missions established by UN bodies, and carries out missions under the mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or at the request of other bodies. OHCHR work includes developing guidance and tools for the operation of commissions and missions, advising on mandate development, investigation methodology and applicable international law, setting up secretariats with specialist staff, providing administrative, logistical and security support, providing briefing and training to members and staff, undertaking reviews and lessons learned exercises. Since 1992, OHCHR has provided support to and deployed close to 50 commissions and missions.

The Research Guide accessible on the left-hand side provides key information on international commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions and other investigations established by the United Nations to gather information, analyze and report on violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including: mandating authority, mandate, members, key dates and links to related resolutions and reports.


Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic A/HRC/36/55 (8 August 2017) | العربية (Annex)

Human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations in the Syrian Arab Republic, 21 July 2016- 28 February 2017*. Conference room paper of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic - A/HRC/34/CRP.3
English only (10 March 2017)

Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi A/HRC/36/54 (11 Aug. 2017) and Corr.1 (4 October 2017)

Rapport final détaillé de la Commission d’enquête sur le Burundi A/HRC/36/CRP.1/Rev.1 (20 September 2017) (Français)

More reports...


Feature Stories

South Sudan: Possible war crimes and crimes against humanity
UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan calls for reparations for victims of human rights violations in the ongoing conflict.
23 February 2018
Human Rights Commission for South Sudan calls for end of impunity for perpetrators of violence
On the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan calls for an end to impunity for perpetrators of violence.
22 December 2017
Investigation of alleged human rights violations and abuses against the Rohingya
An independent fact-finding mission begins an inquiry into alleged human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar.
26 September 2017
Burundi - A knife or a steel bar? How would you prefer to be killed?
In 2015, President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for another term as head of state of Burundi. Since then, real or suspected government opponents have been hunted down, tortured or killed. The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi talks of crimes against humanity.
4 September 2017
UN human rights investigators decry targeting of civilians in Syria
“The only way to end civilian suffering is to end this war,” the Commission of Inquiry on Syria told the Human Rights Council, as the conflict rages into its seventh year.
16 June 2017

More Feature stories

See also

    Commissions of Inquiry and Fact-finding Missions on International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: Guidance and Practice
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Research Guide