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 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.

Latest Reports

Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic
28 February 2019

Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
28 February 2019

Death Notifications in the Syrian Arab Republic
Arabic | English
28 November 2018

Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syria Arab Republic A/HRC/39/65
English | Arabic
Release date: 12 September 2018

Report of the Independent International Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar - A/HRC/39/64 (27 August 2018)
English | English 

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)

Feature Stories

Displaced and afraid in Idlib, Syria
Warring parties in Idlib have given little consideration for civilian lives and have caused massive displacements. UN experts propose recommendations to address the situation of the displaced.
2 October 2018
"The truth can be recovered" - the methodology behind fact-finding in Myanmar
Human rights experts of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar reveal the methodology they used to assess the credibility of allegations against Myanmar authorities.
12 September 2018
Myanmar Fact Finding Mission: accounting for the gravest international crimes
The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar found patterns of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States, amounting to the gravest crimes under international law. The report calls for Myanmar military generals to be investigated for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
29 August 2018
Report: No one unaffected by sexual and gender-based violence in Syrian conflict
“It is utterly repugnant that brutal acts of sexual and gender-based violence have been perpetrated throughout Syria for over six and a half years,” said Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. He made his remarks during an event launching a report that looked into the pervasiveness of the issue in the Syrian conflict.
28 March 2018
Syria: the most dangerous place for children?
Civil society actors give the Human Rights Council information on violations of children’s rights in Syria and recommendations on how to protect rights of these children.
16 March 2018

More Feature stories

See also

    Commissions of Inquiry and Fact-finding Missions on International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: Guidance and Practice
  • English | French | Spanish
    Who’s Responsible? Attributing Individual Responsibility for Violations of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in United Nations Commissions of Inquiry, Fact-finding Missions and other Investigations
  • English

Research Guide