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Truth-seeking bodies such as truth commissions, commissions of inquiry, fact-finding, and mapping inquiries are focused on fulfilling the right to truth. They undertake investigations into past serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law to ensure the victims and their families' right to know the causes and conditions of the violations and the reasons leading to their victimization. They also have the right to know the truth about the identity of the perpetrators and the fate and whereabouts of victims in the event of enforced disappearances.

Regional human rights bodies have also underscored the collective nature of this right, i.e. the right of the entirety of society to know the truth about past events, as well as the motives and circumstances in which the atrocities were committed in order to prevent the recurrence of such acts in the future.

The right to truth about gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law is an inalienable right linked to the State’s duty to protect human rights, conduct effective investigations, and guarantee effective remedies and reparation. It is enshrined in international binding instruments such as the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and in a variety of other instruments such as the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law.

Most recently, OHCHR has supported truth-seeking processes at the national level in the Central African Republic, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Gambia, Sri Lanka, the Sudan and Tunisia.

Further information

  • HR/PUB/06/1, Truth commissions PDF: العربية English | Français | Русский | Español
  • HR/PUB/09/2, National Consultations on Transitional Justice PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Русский | Español
  • Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 18 December 2013, ‘Right to the truth’ (A/RES/68/165)
  • Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council ‘Right to the truth’ (A/HRC/RES/21/7)
  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, ‘Selected challenges faced by truth commissions in transitional periods and responses to strengthen the effectiveness of those mechanisms in addressing gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law’ (A/HRC/24/42)