The investigation of death and harm during situations of armed conflict and high-intensity violence is a key area of concern for international human rights law and the law of armed conflict. Investigations are a critical mechanism used to verify what has happened in situations of armed conflict, which in turn also facilitates accountability.
A Lack of Detailed International Standards
Usually, however, the duty to investigate is implied but not mentioned directly in international law sources. States tend to rely on domestic standards, but there is no uniform practice and detailed international standards for assessing domestic procedures have not been agreed. This has profound practical implications. States and international organizations clearly need clarification in this area of law, not least because states are expected by human rights bodies to account for their investigations (or lack of them). Clearer rules are required in several areas, including the circumstances that should trigger investigations, the form investigations should take and the standards they should meet.
Identifying a Set of Best Practices
This project, initiated in 2014 by the Swiss Chair of International Humanitarian Law, Professor Noam Lubell, intends to identify, via expert meetings and research, a set of best practices that states should apply when they investigate or examine alleged violations or misconduct in situations of armed conflict.
The Best Practices Document will provide a reference point for all actors, including states, their militaries and judicial bodies, international and civil society organizations.