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Human Rights Investigations and their Methodology: Lecture by Ms. Navanethem Pillay United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

24 February 2010
 

Distinguished Faculty,
Dear Students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a real pleasure to address you today.  This is my first lecture before a Geneva-based academic institution, and one that has distinguished itself for outstanding results in humanitarian scholarship. 

It is my hope that the topic of my discussion, “Human Rights Investigations in Methodology and Practice,” dovetails with your curriculum and, more importantly, with your present and future professional pursuits. 

Let me begin by noting that this subject matter has for too long been shrouded in some sort of mythology.  On the one hand, human rights investigations are seen as the stuff of noble, even adventurous and passionately partisan endeavors inspiring novels, movies and other art forms. On the other hand, and indeed at times simultaneously, such inquiries are regarded as the exclusive preserve of dry and eminently technical forensic examination.  There is a measure of truth in both perspectives, but the reality is far more complex.

And of course, the issue of the parameters applied in human rights investigations is also blurred by the arguments that often surround what many Governments and other concerned parties consider as the unpalatable findings produced by these investigative missions.  A recent example of this is the sound and fury in the media and in the halls of power that accompanied Justice Richard Goldstone’s mission, dispatched by the Human Rights Council, to investigate violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law in the context of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.  These vehement arguments tried to shift the focus away from the soundness of the methodology and findings of the mission to plunge the debate into the quicksand of the highly partisan politics of the Middle East conflict. 

I am acutely aware that mythologies and the politicization of human rights issues are die-hard narratives. Tonight I will try to debunk the imaginary constructs that surround human rights investigations and that often help to convey a distorted image of the ways and means, as well as the expectations and outcomes that they entail.  With regard of ways and means, I will discuss how the methodology of human rights inquiries has developed over time, together with some of its fundamental elements.  As for expectations and outcomes stemming from these investigations, I will illustrate some fundamental principles and their practical applications. 

DEVELOPING A METHODOLOGY 

At the outset, I wish to point out that the word “methodology” in the context of human rights investigations should not be construed as a “one size fits all” approach.  When we speak of methodology in our line of activity, we refer to cogency and coherence in research and analytical frameworks and methods, rather than rigid uniformity in application.  Indeed, human rights investigations must be adaptable and responsive to specific contexts and individual circumstances, but maintain those rigorous standards that are the guarantee of sound outcomes.   No matter what the situation may be, all investigations entail painstaking discovery procedures and dispassionate evaluation of information against a framework of international law. 

Such inquiries serve a multiplicity of other purposes. They help identify perpetrators and protect victims, or contribute to establish both a chain of accountability and vehicles to deliver justice and redress to the victims. They aim at influencing positive change in laws and practice.  They draw attention to serious violations and accountability gaps, and help mobilize action nationally and internationally to grant justice to victims. The ultimate goal of this and other human rights work is preventing abuses or, at a minimum, mitigating and stopping violations when they do occur. 

This ambitious “manifesto” has not always been matched by adequate means and know-how.   To be sure, the methodology of human rights investigations has been developed and has evolved over time through the collective experience of the human rights community as a whole.  This include non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working under repressive and authoritarian systems at the national level, international NGOs, United Nations independent experts, UN human rights fact finding and investigative bodies, as well as OHCHR’s own practice.

Indeed, the first High Commissioner took office as the genocidal conflict in Rwanda was raging in 1994.  Within days from the High Commissioner taking up functions and with limited operational experience, OHCHR was tasked of establishing its first presence on the ground as a deterrent for further violence in Rwanda.

OHCHR staffers had to be hastily recruited and without proper training.  They faced a massive human rights tragedy with hundreds of thousands already dead, an ongoing conflict in a part of the country and a struggle to consolidate power throughout the country.  There was much individual initiative.  OHCHR had teams investigating mass graves to verify the veracity of massacre allegations, and interviewing witnesses.  The lack of a well- developed protection methodology inevitably led to mistakes.  However, human rights officers had an abundance of enthusiasm and commitment, the tactical astuteness to adapt responses to circumstances, and the strategic vision to learn from practice and apply its lessons.

Eventually guidance on both investigations and project support took shape.

Over time the protection work became systematic.  One example is that before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was created, the OHCHR Field Operation in Rwanda undertook a meticulous collection of evidence related to past human rights crimes.  In each province mass graves and witnesses were identified.    In the end, OHCHR was able to provide a very extensive report to the newly appointed prosecutor for the ICTR. This report was an important tool to jump-start the tribunal’s own investigations. 

Since then, each mission has brought additional knowledge and sophistication to the OHCHR investigative approach which, building on this cumulative understanding, has also refined its means of intervention.  Today, our vigilance is bolstered both by our 55 field presences, as well as by ad hoc inquiries.   The former allow for continuous monitoring of human rights situations, which may be chronic, deteriorating or acute.

The latter are often conducted against the backdrop of crises or in their aftermath.  They can be mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Security Council, or the General Assembly.  They can also be requested by the Secretary-General or dispatched at the initiative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  In recent years, there has been a significant increase in requests for OHCHR to provide its expertise and support to these types of mission.  In 2006, OHCHR created a Rapid Response Unit to monitor looming crises and dispatch staff at short notice whenever mandated or required by relevant UN bodies or national authorities.

The temporal, territorial and substantive scope of such investigations can vary, as well as the content of their final reports.  However, all investigations produce recommendations on ways to stop ongoing abuses, prevent their recurrence, rectify violations, and ensure accountability for perpetrators.

Human rights investigations are also conducted in the context of so called mapping exercises.   These are initiatives oriented towards gathering basic information on the most serious violations of human rights and/or international humanitarian law that took place in a particular territory and during a specific, generally long, timeframe. Mapping exercises chart major incidents along patterns of violation and account for the victims.  They do not replace in-depth and ad-hoc investigations on specific cases. I will discuss this issue later.

KEY ELEMENTS OF THE METHODOLOGY

Information Gathering

Earlier in this presentation, I mentioned some of the common elements that underlie all human rights investigations.  Let me now specify that all of them rely on the ability to independently, objectively and impartially collect relevant information, confirm its veracity, and analyse this information to produce credible evidence about violations, their causes and effects, as well as identify their perpetrators. 

Any investigation begins by developing an understanding of the context in which the events under investigation occurred.  This requires gathering and analyzing information related to a country’s history, geography, political system, legislation, demographics and other relevant issues.

Research is conducted through open sources, such as published articles as well as reports of non-governmental and international organizations.  It involves interviews with victims, witnesses, authorities and officials, people knowledgeable about the facts or who could lend their expertise to shed additional light regarding the facts under investigation, reports of experts such as medical doctors or military specialists, ballistic analysis, official documents and photo and video material.  Recent investigations, such as the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, have also made use of satellite imagery and analysis.  The Mission also held public hearings of victims and experts.

Interviews with victims or with individuals that are proximate to the victims are, obviously, extremely complex.  They require extensive preparatory work, considerable technical expertise, as well as tact and sensitivity to the particular circumstances of the interviewee.

The methods utilized to gather information depend on the nature of the investigation and the ability of the investigation team to gain access to the place where the incident occurred, as well as to sources of information.   On site visits provide an opportunity for the team to observe first-hand the conditions prevailing after the incident and to meet with and speak to witnesses, victims and other sources of information.  However, even in when in-site visits are impossible, first-hand and eyewitness accounts are still possible, for example by interviewing witnesses outside the country where the incident took place, or by phone 

The human rights officer considers whom to interview, and in what language, who will translate, where the interview should be held in order to protect the security of the witness, how the interview should be recorded so as to protect the security of the information, what the interviewer needs to know before the interview, how to deal with cultural differences which inhibit communication. 

A frequent challenge faced by human rights investigations is the unwillingness of governments, non-state actors or authorities that are the subject of investigation to cooperate.  Lack of cooperation may vary from refusing to speak with and provide information and relevant documents to the investigators, to barring them from entering a country or the area where the incidents under investigation took place, to intimidating possible witnesses and sources of information to prevent them from cooperating with the investigators. Such obstruction may force the investigators to rely more heavily on official statements and material in the public domain. However, lack of cooperation from authorities cannot and does not prevent investigations from taking place and reaching conclusions.

These are the fundamental tenets of information gathering. At this point, I would like to offer some additional elements regarding two particularly problematic aspects of human rights investigations. The first pertains to witness protection; the second concerns sexual violence, a violation that witnesses may be reluctant to report and that requires an eminently tactful approach on the part of the investigator.

With regard to witness protection, human rights officers often face in the course of their work specific and seemingly insurmountable vulnerabilities of victims and witnesses. 

We know that most witnesses involved in investigations and prosecutions of human rights and international crimes cases have good reason to fear retaliation. They often live in volatile and insecure environments where their human rights could be violated.  But they do come forward.  They are willing to take such risk in order to shed a light on events and obtain justice.  It is, therefore, literally vital to create appropriate safety nets for the protection of witnesses, and of their physical and psychological integrity, as well as their privacy, dignity, and reputation.

Let me be absolutely clear on one crucial point: the protection of witnesses is a responsibility that falls primarily upon States.  Indeed, from a human rights perspective and in general terms, the protection of the life, physical and psychological integrity, privacy and reputation of those who agree to provide information is required under relevant provisions of human rights treaties, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 

I also wish to underscore that, as a leader in UN human rights work, my Office considers the protection of witnesses, victims and other sources of information an essential component of its efforts to monitor and investigate human rights violations.
  
For example, in order to minimize risks to the safety and physical and psychological well-being of a witness,  we conduct a preliminary risk assessment evaluation to determine what level of protection is appropriate to the monitoring and investigative tasks. Once a determination is made, we follow this guidance. 

By way of illustration, let me offer the example of how our recent mission to Guinea endeavoured to protect witnesses in the course of its investigation.   This mission, a Commission of Inquiry (CoI), was dispatched in the aftermath of the violence that erupted in that country last September.  At that time, members of the opposition endured serious human rights violations, but the authorities failed to take steps to punish the perpetrators, many of which remained in positions of power. Rumors of intimidation and harassment of civilians were rife and a climate of fear prevailed in the capital.

Throughout the mission, witness protection remained the paramount consideration that guided all of OHCHR’s actions. To gather reliable information on the events and the situation on the ground without jeopardizing the security of its interlocutors, OHCHR met with civil society actors outside the country. While operating within the country, the Secretariat of the CoI took precautions to ensure that information from complainants and their personal details were stored safely and selected secure and confidential locations to hold meetings to minimize the exposure of complainants. In some instances the CoI even chose not to meet certain interlocutors because the security conditions were judged to be too precarious. The Secretariat members included a witness protection specialist to advise on additional steps that could be taken. All the Secretariat’s officers had experience in investigating sexual and gender-based violence to ensure that in the course of interviews due care was taken to respect the “do no harm” principle.

And this leads me to my second point, namely investigations into sexual violence.  In such cases it is important to look at the whole range of such violence, rather than focusing solely on those acts of an overt sexual nature such as rape. Sensitivity of the investigator in conducting inquiries on gender-based violence is imperative, as is an understanding of the physical and psycho-social impact of this kind of abuse.  The objective is to develop an investigative conduct that does not re-traumatize the victim.   In all circumstances, rights of witnesses to privacy and confidentiality have to be respected. All data and information has to be protected and not shared with anyone without the person’s informed consent. Finally, no presumptions should be made regarding the victims’ circumstances.  Indeed, women (and men) of all ages, ethnic groups and classes might be exposed to violence and abuse.

Analysis of Information

Moving now to the other crucial component of investigations, namely the analysis of the information gathered, let me underscore that this latter aspect is not necessarily sequential.  In fact, evaluation of information is a process that often proceeds in parallel with its collection.  This is carried out in order to assess whether the inquiry is on target or in order to evaluate necessary next steps and adjustments.  Ultimately, the aim of this process is to assemble or reconstruct a comprehensive picture of the events under investigation and of the role played by different actors in the events.
 
Investigators carry out an evaluation of the information collected to assess its validity, relevance and veracity jointly with the reliability and probity of a source.  On this latter point investigators consider carefully how the information is conveyed to them and why individuals or institutions chose to share it.  The evaluation will also look at whether the information has been corroborated by other sources or by physical evidence. 

An investigator should be mindful that cultural or religious taboos may determine how victims or witnesses describe their experience. For example, in some communities, it is taboo to talk about sexual relations, and a victim may use euphemisms in order to avoid explicit terminology.  In such instances, understanding the cultural context becomes very important in assessing the validity of the information.  The same need to consider that a range of issues may affect a victims’ account arises when witnesses have undergone trauma, such as torture, or fear reprisals.

Moreover, investigators must also be extremely alert to misinformation which may be either spread with malicious intent, or be a consequence of involuntary distortions due, for example, to a lack of proper means of communication.   In this regard, an OHCHR colleague recalled an investigation that took place in July 1999 when the war between the Government of Angola and the rebels of UNITA had flared up again. 

At that time, reports were disseminated indicating that 100 bodies had been found in four wells in Chipeta (Bie province) when Government forces retook the town after a few weeks of rebel occupation.   In the midst of wild press speculations and denials by the rebels, at the beginning of August human rights investigators were dispatched in that remote area upon the request of both the Government and UNITA to investigate the allegations.  The human rights officers actually discovered no discernible trace of bodies in the wells and stated so in their report.  The Government continued to dispute these conclusions, but the clamour around the incident fizzled out quickly.  No follow-up was ever requested.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Analyzing information is akin to putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

The verification of information is central to any investigation.  The credibility of the entire investigation depends on corroborating the information provided by one source with that sought from other independent sources. Indeed, no matter how reliable a source is deemed to be, information must be verified against other documentary or oral testimony. A test of validity often relies on corroboration by at least two additional and independent sources.  In some investigations, such as those related to sexual violence, this poses a real challenge, especially where there are no witnesses to the incident.

   It is also valuable to gather hearsay information and carefully assess it.  In some instances it may even be preferable to obtain hearsay information rather than interview the victim. This may be done, for example, in order to prevent re-traumatizing a child victim of sexual abuse by interviewing a parent or guardian instead.  This information may be then corroborated with pertinent expertise.  In other cases hearsay information may be the only available option. 

However, it is important not to rely solely on hearsay information which itself needs to be corroborated. Any finding relying on such information should make this clear.

 A careful analysis of the information probes whether the information gathered confirms the occurrence of the events under investigation, and whether its quality permits drawing conclusions.  As all the available pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are assembled, investigators conduct a legal analysis of the information on an ongoing basis to ascertain  whether the information confirms all the elements of the violation under investigation, and whether international crimes have been committed.   To this effect, the applicable bodies of law are international human rights law; international humanitarian law (IHL) – also called the law of armed conflict or the laws of war – which applies only in situations of armed conflict; and, refugee law, which protects individuals who have fled their own countries to seek refuge from persecution.  International criminal law, which establishes individual criminal responsibility, often comes into play.

  Human rights investigators also consider the applicability of national legal provisions to their inquiries, especially in cases which entail specific follow up at the national level through formal or informal justice systems.

In human rights investigation, legal analysis will determine whether the facts that have been established constitute violations of international law.  The first step is to identify the broad nature or category of the violation, for example, whether the facts disclose unlawful killings.  Subsequently, facts are examined to determine whether they match each of the elements of the specific violation that has been identified.

Ultimately, the legal analysis informs the content and scope of recommendations emanating from investigations.  It may be used to upgrade national legal frameworks in order to make them consistent with international human rights standards. Such analysis eventually determines the necessary legal reforms which are required to prevent further occurrence of violations.

Sometimes the facts that have been established do not amount to an exact determination. In the case of torture, it may be difficult to verify the threshold that differentiates it from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In all circumstances it is imperative to state clearly the factual and analytical basis on which a determination is based, however.

Depending on the context, the information available and the mandate of the mission, investigations may conclude with the determination of violations of human rights law or international humanitarian law.  In other instances, they may establish whether the violations constitute international crimes carrying individual criminal responsibility.

The final step in the analysis is to determine who is responsible for the violations that have been disclosed.  Perpetrators may include State or non-State entities, as well as individuals. This analysis will consider the institutions or entities that have been involved, as well as individuals within those institutions or entities, and those who bear responsibility by virtue of exercising control or authority over the actual perpetrators.

In sum, continuous and thorough evaluation of information throughout the investigations will ensure that information deemed not sufficiently reliable is strengthened or rejected, that the reliability of sources is tested and that the integrity of information is preserved. This process will ensure that the conclusions of the human rights investigation are based on information of the highest reliability.

The report and recommendations of an investigation can have far reaching consequences as was indeed the case when, based on the recommendations of a commission of inquiry, the Security Council issued a referral regarding the situation of the Sudanese region of Darfur to the International Criminal Court.  The recommendations in any report stemming from a human rights investigation must be action-oriented and aim at ameliorating the situation, preventing further violations, and holding perpetrators to account.  What is of utmost importance is the implementation of the recommendations.

Before leaving the discussion of the technical aspects of our methodology, allow me to share a few thoughts regarding a question that we frequently encountered, that is, in what aspects do human rights inquiries differ from criminal investigations and journalistic reporting.  Obviously, the similarities are numerous.  However, the differences are equally important.  I will illustrate only a few of them. 

Vis-à-vis criminal investigations, human rights inquiries can pursue a lesser burden of proof and at times stop at prima facie evidence and, generally, do not lead to the identification of individual perpetrators.  They can be carried out over a limited span of time, due to resource and political constraints.  Human rights investigators are also bound to always identify themselves and to use discernable means to record evidence and testimony, while law enforcers may and do operate under cover and may avail themselves of interception techniques undisclosed to the potential witnesses and interlocutors.

As opposed to journalistic reports, the ultimate goal of human rights monitoring activities and investigations is not necessarily publicity.  Some of their findings may be shared in confidentiality if this better serves the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights in certain circumstances.  Moreover, while journalists may put a premium on identifiable sources, witness protection—and the anonymity that it may entail­—is of primary importance to human rights investigators.    For example, this occurs when interlocutors are not fully aware of the global dissemination of information that modern communications technology affords— with potentially negative consequences for the protection of an individual’s privacy and safety.

No matter how our lines of business are developed, the three professional fields do share a paramount goal in setting the record straight and establishing the truth.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

I will use this last observation as a lead in for the second major aspect of my discussion, namely, the practical applications of human rights investigations.  Throughout my presentation tonight I have touched upon them.  Let me sum them up now.  Human rights investigations have furnished crucial elements to judicial procedures.  They have done so in the inquiries of ad hoc international tribunals and of the International Criminal Court.

Findings and recommendations of such inquiries have also contributed to transitional justice mechanisms. For example, in the aftermath of the violence sparked by the contested December 2007 presidential election in Kenya, the High Commissioner, in agreement with the Kenyan government, dispatched a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations. OHCHR released a public report on its findings.   In particular, the report recommended the establishment of a special prosecutorial capacity of the highest quality and independence to bring to justice the perpetrators of post-electoral violence, including planners and organizers. Following a power-sharing agreement, brokered by the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the government established a national Commission of Inquiry which in the end recommended the creation of a tribunal to try the suspected instigators of violence. To date, however, the Kenya Government has failed to establish such a tribunal and there is a possibility that the International Criminal Court will take over the process of bringing perpetrators to justice.

Even when the government of the day fails to satisfactorily follow up with missions’ recommendations, successor governments may implement them after they take power.   That was the case in East Timor where, in 1999, OHCHR dispatched a Commission of Inquiry into gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in that conflict by the Indonesian army and their associated militia. Responding to the mission’s report, Indonesia set up an ad-hoc human rights tribunal for East Timor to try those responsible for the violence. However that body failed to hold accountable perpetrators among the Indonesian military and was criticized by both human rights advocates and the UN.

In 2002, the first independent Government of East Timor established the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation to investigate the human rights violations committed up to 1999.  The Commission’s report was released in January 2005 and detailed torture and numerous other human rights abuses.  A  Serious Crimes Investigation Team (SCIT) was then mandated by the Security Council to complete inquiries into outstanding cases of serious human rights violations committed in 1999 with a view to criminal prosecution. The SCIT has been in function since early 2008.

Indeed, the legacy of human rights missions has proved to be enduring and helped countries emerging from conflict to set the record straight on past abuses.  And now I would like to discuss in greater detail how human rights investigations may induce not only a new approach and a fresh mind set, but also durable change and tangible results for the victims.

In 2002, for example, the Government of Colombia invited OHCHR to conduct an inquiry into a massacre that had taken place in the traditionally guerrilla-held territories of the Chocó region.  Our investigation concluded that violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law had been committed by the guerrilla, as well as by the paramilitary forces associated with the Government, and by Colombia’s regular armed forces. 

The OHCHR report was widely recognized as accurate, impartial, exhaustive and legally sound. As such, it was and is still used as a reference by both State authorities and civil society.  An immediate result of the report was to focus the discussion on all the issues and actors involved in that internal conflict, and on the need for increased protection of civilians in the area of the massacre. Subsequently, several individuals were tried and sentenced for their responsibility in the massacre.  In May 2008, a regional court sentenced the Colombian Ministry of Defence to pay 1.552 million pesos in compensation to the relatives of two victims for failing to protect them.

Mapping Exercises

We pursue accountability both regarding individual incidents and responsibilities, but also in regard to a multiplicity of events over a broader span of time.  We do so through “mapping exercises.”  I will briefly describe our ongoing effort in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

As many as five million people are thought to have died there, mostly from disease and starvation, making the war in the DRC the deadliest worldwide conflict since World War II. Rampant corruption and pervasive State weakness allowed members of the national army and members of armed groups alike to perpetrate abuses against civilians. The DRC is sadly renowned for widespread sexual violence and the use of child soldiers.

The OHCHR, in cooperation with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and UNDP, launched a mapping exercise in August 2008 pursuing a three-pronged approach: (1) documenting gross human rights violations committed between 1993 and 2003 in the DRC;  (2) assessing the existing capacities within the national justice system to deal with such human rights violations; and (3) formulating proposals for the creation of appropriate transitional justice mechanisms to address the legacy of these violations in terms of truth, justice, reparation and reform.

The exercise inventories 617 incidents that it identifies as international crimes.  I trust that the report that will be issued will be a powerful and constructive tool, which, if used appropriately, will contribute to the fight against impunity, serve as a basis to launch a major discussion on transitional justice, and contribute to combat sexual and gender-based violence.  The mapping exercise does not seek to establish personal criminal responsibility.  While the report does not name names, it does expose the armed groups, many of which are regular army, responsible for each incident.

Any information obtained about the identity of the perpetrators of certain crimes is recorded in a confidential database which may be of use to judicial institutions or transitional justice bodies.

Recent Innovations

Irrespective of the character and scope of OHCHR inquiries, whether stand-alone investigations or mapping exercises, or in-country continuous monitoring, we undertake them to establish an historical record of violations.  We also carry them out with the aim of contributing to the prevention of future crimes.  

Ours is a work in progress. As I tried to illustrate, far from being a static construct, human rights investigations continue to evolve. A good example is the work of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict led by Justice Richard Goldstone, which I mentioned earlier.  Allow me to recall that the mission was tasked to investigate violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the context of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. The Mission conducted a comprehensive inquiry that included, alongside “traditional” human rights investigative methods, the use of new technologies, such as satellite images to support findings about damage to houses, greenhouses and industrial facilities in specific areas of the Gaza Strip, as well as innovative public hearings regarding the subject of the investigation.  These hearings were broadcast live from Geneva.  Their purpose was to enable victims, witnesses and experts from all sides to the conflict to speak directly to as many people as possible in the region as well as in the international community.

Despite the trauma suffered and the risk to personal security, victims did indeed come forward to share their experiences. 
The difficult work of human rights investigators, and the courage of victims and witnesses who cooperate, may at times not produce immediate or immediately tangible results. This should not be reason for skepticism or demoralization. In a 60 year-long conflict marred by egregious human rights violations, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example, cynics are often ready to label accountability as utopia or, at least, as wishful thinking.  However, the United Nations Fact Finding Mission succeeded in placing the acute need for accountability on the international community’s agenda, compelling different and often opposing constituencies to take note of the facts documented and the calls for justice from victims on all sides.

CONCLUSION

To sum up my discussion let me note that on the one hand, human rights investigations raise great expectations.  Human rights defenders and victims often see them as part of the solution for their serious and protracted conditions or, at least as a means to make the international community aware of their plight.  On the other hand, investigations are often regarded by Governments as Trojan horses planted to undermine their sovereignty, or, at a minimum as an unwelcome interference in purely domestic affairs.

What I hope I conveyed tonight is the notion that such investigations are part and parcel of the human rights work. They are indispensible tools in the pursuit of truth.  I am proud of the professionalism and passion human rights investigators devote to their inquiries.  I am proud of their results. 

You are welcome to join their ranks.  Thank you.