Standards of Proof in Fact Finding

Completed in December 2015

Several ad hoc fact-finding and inquiry commissions have been established to assess some of the most serious situations of human rights and humanitarian law violations across the world (e.g. Darfur, Lebanon, Guinea, Georgia, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria).

With such mechanisms gaining influence, the question arises of whether a minimum formal standard of proof (or degree of certainty) exists or is required when such bodies adjudicate on such serious matters.

This research project assessed a range of mechanisms, starting with formal judicial processes and the ‘natural home’ of standards of proof. After an initial overview, it considered a range of case studies, including ad hoc fact-finding missions mandated by the United Nations, but also the work of non-governmental organizations, regional bodies, international experts and other relevant bodies operating in the international arena that are tasked, to some extent, to make legal adjudications with regard to alleged serious violations of human rights or humanitarian law.


No image available

Jonathan Somer

No image available

Amélie Larocque

Picture of Stephen Wilkinson

Stephen Wilkinson


The outcomes of the research were compiled in a Geneva Academy report, Standards of Proof in International Humanitarian and Human Rights Fact-Finding and Inquiry Missions (2014).


Cover of Standards of Proof in Fact Finding

Standards of Proof in International Humanitarian and Human Rights Fact-Finding and Inquiry Missions

October 2014

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >


East Timor, Dili, burnt houses Short Course

The Law of Non-International Armed Conflicts and Other Contested Issues

26 April - May 2018

This course examines one of the main purpose of international humanitarian law (IHL), which is to mitigate human suffering caused by war. It enables a careful evaluation of the various IHL rules intended to help protect vulnerable persons, such as civilians and prisoners of war, as well as property during armed conflict.

Read more

UN Mission patrols disputed area in Sudan Short Course

Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict and Fragile Situations

13 April - May 2018

This course provides a concise and systematic treatment of the peacebuilding process in post-conflict and fragile situations. It adopts a holistic definition of peacebuilding that combines the socio-political issues with economic growth in a sustainable development perspective.

Read more

South Lebanon, Aita ech Chaab. Entry door of the primary school. Project

Protection of Education in Armed Conflict

Completed in January 2011

This project analyzed how United Nations (UN) human rights treaty bodies and relevant UN Charter-based mechanisms and entities have addressed the implementation of the right to education and other relevant rights in armed conflict and armed violence.

Read more

ICC Trial Chamber VIII declares Mr Al Mahdi guilty of the war crime of attacking historic and religious buildings in Timbuktu and sentences him to nine years’ imprisonment Project

Modes of Liability for International Crimes

Started in January 2015

This project intends to clarify the conditions of accountability for international crimes by providing a detailed assessment of the customary international law status of, in particular, the actus reus and mens rea elements of modes of liability: planning, instigating, conspiracy, direct and indirect perpetration, co-perpetration, the three forms of joint criminal enterprise, the doctrine of common purpose under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, command responsibility and aiding and abetting.

Read more