The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission – dedicated to facilitating respect for international humanitarian law


The IHFFC is the dedicated expert body established by Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions to respond to incidents in relation to international humanitarian law. It stands at the service of parties to an armed conflict to conduct enquiries into alleged violations and to facilitate, through its good offices, the restoration of an attitude of respect for that body of law.





In order to secure the guarantees afforded to the victims of armed conflicts, Article 90 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (AP I) provides for the establishment of an International Fact-Finding Commission. The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) was subsequently established in 1991. It is a permanent body of 15 independent experts, acting in their personal capacity, elected by the States having made a declaration of recognition under Article 90 of AP I. The Commission's essential purpose is to contribute to implement and ensure respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in armed conflict situations.


The Commission fulfills its mandate notably by:


· Enquiring into any facts alleged to be grave breaches or serious violations of IHL.

· Facilitating through its good offices the restoration of an attitude of respect for the Conventions and AP I.

· Reporting its findings to the States involved and making such recommendations as it deems appropriate.


In the fulfillment of its mandate, the Commission observes the principles of neutrality, independence, impartiality, and confidentiality.

In its capacity as the depositary of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, Switzerland runs the Secretariat of the Commission.


Each State which has recognized the competence of the Commission has the right to refer for investigation situations of armed conflict to the Commission on condition that all Parties involved have equally recognized the Commission's competence. A State Party to the First Additional Protocol may make a comprehensive declaration, thereby recognizing the Commission's competence, or it may consent to an investigation into the facts of a particular dispute. A comprehensive declaration can be made at any time.


Today, 76 States have made a comprehensive declaration under Article 90.


Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.


Yours sincerely,


Thilo Marauhn




News from the IHFFC

Vice-President of the IHFFC meets with State Parties in New York [13/12/2019]
New York, 12-13 December 2019

The First Vice-President of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, Dr. Elzbieta Mikos-Skuza, visited the United Nations in New York upon invitation by the Permanent Mission of Poland to the United Nations. On 13 December, she met States which have accepted the competence of the IHFFC. The meeting was organized by the Group of Friends of the Commission at the United Nations, and in particular by the Chair and Vice-Chairs of the Group, the United Kingdom, Poland and Argentina. The purpose of the meeting was to update States on the work of the IHFFC and to introduce them to, and seek their suport for, the Group of Friends as one way to make the Commission better known and used in practice. It was a well-attended and very productive session with many questions and suggestions raised, particularly with regard to the role of the UN mechanisms and institutions in order to support the use of the IHFFC. [...]
Support for the IHFFC at the 33rd International Conference [12/12/2019]
Geneva, 9-12 December 2019

The IHFFC assured a significant presence during the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, which took place in Geneva from 9 to 12 December 2019. A meaningful reference to the Commission could be maintained in the Conference's resolution on international humanitarian law. A group of 16 States submitted a substantial pledge of support to the Commission which was subsequently signed by a number of other participants. In a side-event, the Commission discussed its mandate of Good Offices. [...]
President of the IHFFC Meets States in Geneva [15/11/2019]
Geneva, 14-15 November 2019

During a stay in Geneva, the President of the IHFFC, Thilo Marauhn, had the opportunity to brief representatives of dozens of States from all regions of the world on the mandate and work of the Commission. He attended a meeting with Humanitarian Experts of the African Group, met with Permanent Representatives of a number of Asian States and held briefings for States from Latin America and the Caribbean as well as for the Member States of the European Union. [...]
Launch of the Group of Friends of the IHFFC at the United Nations [13/11/2019]
New York, 11-13 November 2019

On Monday, 11 November 2019, States formally launched the Group of Friends of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) at the United Nations.

The President of the IHFFC, Thilo Marauhn, and Vice-President Robin McNeill Love, attended the inaugural meeting, which was kindly hosted by the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom in New York. Over the past months, the IHFFC has invited all States, which have recognized the competence of the Commission, to consider joining such an emerging Group of Friends. A number of States from a number of continents have responded favorably to these outreach efforts and declared their willingness to enhance their support for the IHFFC and its mandate through their membership of the Group of Friends. [...]
Continued cooperation with Russia [01/11/2019]
The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (hereinafter referred to as "the Commission”) has taken note of the fact that the Russian Federation has decided to withdraw the declaration made at the time of ratifying the Additional Protocol I of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, in accordance with Article 90, paragraph 2, thereof, recognizing ipso facto and without special agreement, in relation to any other High Contracting Party accepting the same obligation, the competence of the Commission. While the Commission would have very much appreciated that the Russian Federation upheld the declaration, it takes positive note of a Press Release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on October 22, 2019, stating that: "The withdrawal of the said declaration will not affect Russia’s participation in Protocol I, which continues to remain valid. Moreover, we have opportunities to cooperate with the commission if need be. According to Protocol I, such cooperation may be based on the consent of the parties concerned.” The Commission looks forward to continuing cooperation between the Commission and the Russian Federation.
IHFFC strives for universal recognition of its competence [18/10/2019]
Since its establishment by States, the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission (IHFFC) has engaged in continuous efforts in order to achieve universal recognition of its competence. Indeed, in order for the Commission to be able to effectively fulfill its mandate, it is desirable that it is recognized by as many States as possible. The efforts by the Commission in this regard are ongoing today, and will continue in the future.

[Read more]
Rethinking the Humanitarian Health Response to Violent Conflict - London Exploratory Meeting [11/06/2019]
The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London
10 to 11 June 2019

The meeting was convened on behalf of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Centre on Global Health Security at Chatham House, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Dr Robin McNeill Love, Vice President of the IHFFC, attended the meeting to represent the IHFFC.

The purpose of the meeting was to define a work programme on Rethinking the Humanitarian Health Response to Violent Conflict and to consider how a project on this topic could make important, pragmatic contributions to the development of more effective humanitarian health responses in areas experiencing violent conflict. [...]
Third International Conference on Safe Schools [29/05/2019]
Palma de Mallorca, 26-29 May 2019

Francisco Rey, Member of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC), participated in the Third International Conference on Safe Schools as a facilitator. In order to raise awareness of the potential of IHFFC, he took the opportunity to speak with representatives from States and international organizations about the role of the IHFFC in international humanitarian law.

The conference was initiated following the Safe Schools Declaration (2015), which is a political commitment to better protect students, teachers, schools, and universities during armed conflict.
IHFFC Annual Meeting 2019 [04/04/2019]
The International Humanitarian Fact-finding Commission (IHFFC) held its Annual Meeting from 1 to 3 April 2019 in Geneva.

Building upon the momentum reached on the occasion of the successful Eastern Ukraine mission, the 15 Members discussed ways to further capitalise on this significant development.

The Commission is grateful for the support of a number of States expressing their willingness to establish a “Group of Friends” of the IHFFC at the United Nations in New York and is looking forward to playing its part in progressing this important outreach activity. This will be part of a greater initiative to increase the visibility of the Commission.

The Commission also adopted measures to encourage even more States to recognise the competence of the Commission according to Article 90 of Protocol Additional I of the Geneva Conventions.

In view of further enhancing its operational readiness, the Commission took decisions of principle and created a number of Working Groups in order to streamline and update internal guidelines and working methods.

The Members of the Commission used the opportunity of the Annual Meeting to hold a series of exchanges with relevant stakeholders, including Member States, the ICRC and academic institutions. In particular, the Commission invited representatives of other relevant bodies, including the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria and the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, to share experiences and insights.

The Commission agreed upon its annual Programme of Work. In addition, it adopted the Financial Report for the year 2018 and the draft budget for the year 2020 which will be submitted to Member States according to the established Financial Procedures of the Commission.

The next Annual Meeting will be held in spring 2020 in Geneva.
Seminar on International Humanitarian Law and the European Union  [29/01/2019]
Linz, 29 January 2019

Réka Varga, Member of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC), gave a presentation during the seminar, “International Humanitarian Law and the European Union – Current Developments during the Austrian Presidency”. She was invited by the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In order to emphasize the IHFFC’s value as an entity to enhance respect of international humanitarian law, she highlighted the role of the IHFFC during her presentation. This generated significant interest among participants.
IHFFC has proposed its services [29/01/2019]
The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) has proposed its services to the governments of both the Russian Federation and the Ukraine through identical letters dated 4 December 2018. The IHFFC stands ready to assist both the Ukraine and the Russian Federation with regard to the situation relating to the incident, which occurred in the Kerch Strait on 25 November 2018.
17th Session of the Assembly of the State Parties of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court [07/12/2018]
The Hague, 5-7 December 2018

Justinas Žilinskas, Member of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC), was invited to deliver a statement on behalf of the Commission during the General Debate. He highlighted the critical mission and work of the IHFFC and provided a brief report on the Commission’s latest mission in Ukraine.
News archive »
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