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The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission:an obsolete tool or a useful measure to implement international humanitarian law ?

30-06-2001 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 842, by Luigi Condorelli

The International Fact-Finding Commission mentioned by Article 90 of Additional Protocol I is the only new measure introduced by the Diplomatic Conference of 1974-1977 intended to strengthen implementation of international humanitarian law. (The word ‘humanitarian’ was added to the title by the Commission itself, in order to better express the Commission’s limited jurisdiction.) The Commission was established and its rules of procedure were adopted, but never since 1977 has any party to an armed conflict or any other State ever asked the Commission to exercise its activity in a concrete situation. The author (a member of the Commission) examines the reasons of this apparent failure and suggests new ways of understanding Article 90. He has no doubts about the Commission’s usefulness, and he calls upon States and the other members of the international community – in particular the United Nations – to accept the Commission as a tool for strengthening respect for international humanitarian law.