Guidelines on Investigating Violations of IHL: Law, Policy, and Good Practice

Cover page of the Guidelines Cover page of the Guidelines

16 September 2019

Investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) by the parties to an armed conflict are not only crucial to securing respect for IHL, but also to preventing future violations and enabling redress for victims of past violations. Despite the unquestionable importance of investigations, there is a lack of detail with regard to the international law, principles and standards relevant to investigations in armed conflicts. This is further reflected in the disparate practice across States in the way investigations are carried out. These Guidelines 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 International Committee of the Red Cross.

The resulting publication is based on extensive research and is also 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.

These Guidelines are an essential tool not only for States aiming to conduct investigations of IHL violations in compliance with international law, but also for other bodies and individuals seeking a more detailed understanding of investigations in armed conflict.

The Guidelines will be launched in a series of events, notably one on 10 October in New York during the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Group photo of MTJ students during their study trip to Poland News

Students Spend Three Days in Poland to See How a Country Deals with its Past

2 April 2019

Students of our MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law spent three days in Poland to look into transitional justice issues.

Read more

Portrait of Marco Sassòli News

Professor Marco Sassòli Steps in as New Director of the Geneva Academy

3 September 2018

Professor Marco Sassòli has been appointed as the new Director of the Geneva Academy. He takes up this role following the retirement of Professor Robert Roth.

Read more

Sculpture realized to illustrate thre UDHR Event

Book Launch: Modes of Liability in International Criminal Law

29 October 2019, 18:30-20:00

On the occasion of the launch of Modes of Liability in International Criminal Law, based on research undertaken at the Geneva Academy, panelists will discuss questions related to criminal responsibility for international crimes.

Read more

Somalia, explosion of a bomb in the Mogadishu's market place. Short Course

The Classification of Armed Conflicts

31 January - 14 February 2020

This short course aims to study, in depth, an emblematic example of the complexity of international humanitarian law and the challenges it raises: the classification of armed conflicts.

Read more

Ukraine, damaged bicycle and car in front of a destroyed building Short Course

Protection of Persons and Property in International Armed Conflict

15 November - 13 December 2019

This short course examines the conduct of hostilities in situations of international armed conflict, also known as the Law of The Hague.

Read more

Libya, Misrata, Tripoli Street. Combattants carefully move into a building. Project

Armed Non-State Actors and the Protection of Civilians

Completed in March 2010

This research project looked at the reactions to norms of more than 30 armed groups worldwide.

Read more

Colombia, Mountains in the Valle del Cauca region, between Santander de Quilichao et Popayan. FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) combattants. Project

Rules of Engagement

Completed in January 2009

This project looked at how to enhance compliance by armed non-state actors with international norms, taking into account the views both of the actors themselves and the experiences of those engaged in dialogue with them.

Read more