Standards of Proof in Fact Finding

Completed in December 2015

Several ad hoc fact-finding and inquiry commissions have been established to assess some of the most serious situations of human rights and humanitarian law violations across the world (e.g. Darfur, Lebanon, Guinea, Georgia, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria).

With such mechanisms gaining influence, the question arises of whether a minimum formal standard of proof (or degree of certainty) exists or is required when such bodies adjudicate on such serious matters.

This research project assessed a range of mechanisms, starting with formal judicial processes and the ‘natural home’ of standards of proof. After an initial overview, it considered a range of case studies, including ad hoc fact-finding missions mandated by the United Nations, but also the work of non-governmental organizations, regional bodies, international experts and other relevant bodies operating in the international arena that are tasked, to some extent, to make legal adjudications with regard to alleged serious violations of human rights or humanitarian law.


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Jonathan Somer

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Amélie Larocque

Picture of Stephen Wilkinson

Stephen Wilkinson


The outcomes of the research were compiled in a Geneva Academy report, Standards of Proof in International Humanitarian and Human Rights Fact-Finding and Inquiry Missions (2014).


Cover of Standards of Proof in Fact Finding

Standards of Proof in International Humanitarian and Human Rights Fact-Finding and Inquiry Missions

October 2014

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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