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International Commissions of Inquiry, Commissions on Human Rights, Fact-Finding missions and other Investigations

United Nations-mandated investigative bodies 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 and counter impunity. These investigative mechanisms have been established by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Human Rights Council, its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights.

Investigative bodies mandated by the Human Rights Council have taken numerous forms since the Council was created in 2006, including fact-finding missions and commissions of inquiry. Most have been established to investigate alleged violations in specific countries. However, one – the Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement – is thematic in nature. A full list of current and past mandates can be found on the link

The commissioners and experts selected to lead the Council’s investigative bodies are appointed by either the President of the Human Rights Council or the High Commissioner for Human Rights. They are independent and unpaid. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights provides expertise and support to the investigative mechanisms, including advising on mandate development, investigation methodology and applicable international law, setting up secretariats with specialist staff and providing administrative, logistical and security support.


For media queries related to Human Rights Council investigations, please contact:

Todd Pitman
Media Adviser, Investigative Missions
Email: [email protected]
Cell: +41 76 691 1761

Pascal Sim
Media Officer, Human Rights Council
Email: [email protected]

See also

Commissions of Inquiry and Fact-finding Missions on International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: Guidance and Practice

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

Research Guide