In his latest report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres refers in paragraph 59 to our Guidelines on Investigating Violation of IHL: Law, Policy, and Good Practice – co-published with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – when mentioning that allegations of war crimes require credible investigation and prosecution.
Our Director Professor Marco Sassòli explains: ‘This mention of the guidelines, the first document of its kind, by the UN Secretary-General shows their importance for states aiming to conduct investigations of international humanitarian law (IHL) violations, but also for other bodies and individuals seeking a more detailed understanding of investigations in armed conflict. We are proud to have fulfilled, in this case as with other research projects, our role of injecting through legal and policy research, into actual practice that improve the fate of the most vulnerable.’
These Guidelines – co-authored by Professor Noam Lubell, Swiss IHL Chair at the Geneva Academy until the end of 2019, Jelena Pejic, Senior Legal Advisor at the ICRC, and Claire Simmons, Researcher at the University of Essex and at the Geneva Academy – aim to bring much-needed clarity and support for the conduct of effective investigations into violations of IHL.
The Guidelines are the result of a five-year project, initiated in 2014 by the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and joined in 2017 by the ICRC.
They are based on extensive research and informed by a series of expert workshops and engagement with stakeholders.
The 16 Guidelines are each accompanied by a detailed commentary and provide guidance on the different aspects of investigations into violations of IHL, from the early stages of recording information and identifying the incidents that require investigation, through to the structural and procedural aspects of investigative bodies. The text presents a basis for the conduct of effective investigations while taking into account the diverse legal and military systems that exist, as well as the legal and practical challenges that can arise.
Cover page of the Guidelines