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A Word from the President

Gisela Perren - KlinglerViolations of the law applicable in armed conflict occur, alas, in many conflicts throughout the world. Yet, the international community has never accepted this as a fact which cannot be changed. It has designed a number of institutions and procedures for ensuring the respect for, and faithful implementation of, international humanitarian law. The International Humanitarian Fact-finding Commission is one of these institutions. The idea behind its creation is that ascertaining controversial facts where there are mutual allegations and denials of violations constitutes a useful, even necessary tool for re-establishing respect for international humanitarian law.

The legal basis for the Commission's existence is Article 90 of the First Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions. When the Protocol was adopted in 1977, a number of safeguards for State sovereignty were built into the text, in particular that only a State having agreed by declaration to recognise the competence of the Commission can unilaterally request an inquiry, and only against another State having made the same declaration. So far, 76 States have made that declaration: about half of the parties to Protocol I and more than a third of the parties to the Geneva Conventions. But in addition, the Commission may offer its good offices in order to re-establish a situation of respect for international humanitarian law. This gives the Commission an active role in the settlement of disputes concerning the respect of international humanitarian law - which the Commission uses.

The Commission is well positioned in the international community. It enjoys the support of the United Nations, expressed in a number of General Assembly resolutions, of the International Red Cross/Red Crescent movement as well as of intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations.

The Commission has a specific profile. It is composed of fifteen personalities elected as individuals by the States having recognised its competence. They are diplomats, military officers, medical doctors and academic specialists in international humanitarian law from four continents. It is an impartial body which has no political agenda of its own. It is not related to the Security Council with its enforcement powers (unless the Security Council decides to have recourse to the services of the Commission) nor to the International Criminal Court with its powers to initiate a criminal prosecution. Its approach to fact-finding is co-operative. It will assist the parties to a conflict to redress a situation where international humanitarian law may have been violated, and thus help to promote the rule of law in international relations and create conditions conducive to peace.

Dr. Gisela Perren - Klingler


News from the IHFFC

Update to the IHFFC statement of 8 October 2015 [14/10/2015]
The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC), an independent body established by Article 90 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, has proposed its services to the Governments of the United States of America and Afghanistan through identical letters dated 7 October 2015. The IHFFC offered its services on its own initiative.

It is for the concerned Governments to decide whether they wish to rely on the IHFFC. The IHFFC can only act based on the consent of the concerned State or States. The IHFFC cannot give any further information at this stage.

The offer of the IHFFC relates to the events in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on 3 October 2015.
IHFFC contacted by Médecins Sans Frontières [08/10/2015]
The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) has been contacted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) in relation to the events in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on 3 October 2015.

The IHFFC stands ready to undertake an investigation but can only do so based on the consent of the concerned State or States. The IHFFC has taken appropriate steps and is in contact with MSF. It cannot give any further information at this stage.

The IHFFC was created pursuant to Article 90 of Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, agreed by the international community in Geneva in 1977. When parties to a conflict are accused of violations of international humanitarian law, the Commission’s experts investigate the allegations. They offer their good services to further compliance with international humanitarian law. Unlike a court, the Commission restricts itself to establishing the facts: it does not deliver a verdict. The Commission informs the relevant parties of the results of its investigation and makes recommendations for improving compliance with international humanitarian law and its application. The Bureau of the Commission consist of the President of the IHFFC, Gisela Perren-Klingler (Switzerland), First Vice-President Thilo Marauhn (Germany), Vice-President Mohamed Mahmoud Al Kamali (United Arab Emirates), Vice-President Jeannette Irigoin Barenne (Chile) and Vice-President Shuichi Furuya (Japan).
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