Reform of UN Inquiries

Suzannah Linton, Gerry Simpson and William A. Schabas (eds) For the Sake of Future Generations-Essays on International Law, Crime Justice in Honour of Roger S. Clark (Brill Nijhoff, Leiden, 2015) pp 597-616

11 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2015

See all articles by Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

This work examines the increasing use made by the United Nations of fact-finding inquiries since the Agenda for Peace was launched by the UN Secretary-General in 1992. Inquiries can be established by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the Secretary-General. These inquiries are designed to play a role in conflict resolution. The author became interested in the features of UN Inquiries as a result of chairing the Secretary-General’s inquiry on the 31 May 2010 flotilla incident. That inquiry is not analyzed here, but rather the chapter aims to throw light on what such inquiries aim to achieve, what their limitations are and how they could be improved. Domestic inquiries by states are usually established by the executive but there is no executive government within the UN. The legal machinery that is available for domestic inquiries is simply not available. For UN inquiries, state consent is usually required, although there has been an increasing tendency for UN inquiries to be established without the consent of states. The lack of coercive powers of UN inquiries, however, poses real obstacles to the conduct of inquiries and lack of cooperation can be a grave impediment depending upon the circumstances. Within the UN there is no standard operating procedure, no manual and to a large extent each inquiry must start with a clean slate. Questions exist also about the burden and the standard of proof. Efforts should be made within the UN to produce a clear procedural framework. Further, many of the recommendations of inquiries are never taken up later. Efforts should be made to avoid different elements of the UN conducting inquiries on the same matter. UN inquiries needs to be carefully calibrated, prudently managed and conducted on the basis of transparent processes.

Keywords: United Nations, UN Inquiries, International law, Peace, Human Rights Council,

JEL Classification: K10, K33, K10

Suggested Citation

Palmer QC, Sir Geoffrey, Reform of UN Inquiries (2015). Suzannah Linton, Gerry Simpson and William A. Schabas (eds) For the Sake of Future Generations-Essays on International Law, Crime Justice in Honour of Roger S. Clark (Brill Nijhoff, Leiden, 2015) pp 597-616. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2646493

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

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