Tackling Coordination Challenges

The Hague Institute for Global Justice welcomed a high level expert meeting on coordination between monitoring, reporting, and fact-finding missions and international courts and tribunals. The 9 June session addressed how various actors working in international law, such as tribunals and fact-finding missions, could better exchange information and work together to tackle violations of international human rights, humanitarian, and criminal law.

The organizing theme of the session was interoperability. Professor Claude Bruderlein (adjunct lecturer on global health, Harvard School of Public Health), Dr. Kjell Anderson (former senior researcher, The Hague Institute for Global Justice), Ekkehard Withopf (acting chief of prosecutions, Special Tribunal for Lebanon), Alex Whiting (prosecution coordinator, Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court), and Cecile Aptel (senior legal policy adviser, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) were featured presenters. Other participants [PDF] had experience serving on fact-finding missions, leading commissions of inquiry, and acting as prosecutors for a wide array of international tribunals and the International Criminal Court.

The discussions focused on incorporating fact-finding evidence into international prosecutions; fostering greater cohesion among monitoring, reporting, and fact-finding missions and international courts and tribunals; and building institutional linkages among different investigative mechanisms. The challenges to coordination are numerous and complex, including actual and perceived disconnects in the mandates of fact-finders and prosecutors and their effects on standards of proof and methodology. For instance, a fact-finding mission conducted to support advocacy work may use a different approach to interview witnesses than a prosecutor seeking to establish individual criminal liability. A monitoring mission may be more interested in correcting a human rights violation than preserving the evidence to show that it occurred. Participants shared practical tips for overcoming these obstacles, tested their assumptions about potential conflicts, and broadly discussed the complementarity of the international justice project and monitoring, reporting, and fact-finding efforts. A joint research paper resulting from the discussions is forthcoming.

This event was sponsored by the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University, and The Hague Institute for Global Justice.

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