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Commissions of inquiry: Flexible temporariness or permanent predictability?

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Temporary commissions of inquiry have become more prominent over the past decade, with their establishment particularly noticeable in the context of the Arab Spring. Along with their increased prominence they have also displayed certain features of an adjudicative nature. Although primarily established as fact-finding bodies, their mandates now regularly include making assessments as to potential violations by particular entities of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. This chapter examines the impact that commissions of inquiry as temporary creations have had upon international law and, more specifically, upon international legal adjudication, in particular the traditional formality of international legal adjudication, the principle prohibiting intervention in the internal affairs of states, and procedural fairness. While the temporariness of commissions of inquiry is in many ways unproblematic, this chapter identifies certain problems and examines the possibilities for the establishment of a permanent commission as a means to rectify some of the issues associated with their current temporary nature.




Henderson, C. (2015). Commissions of inquiry: Flexible temporariness or permanent predictability? Netherlands Yearbook of International Law, 45, 287–310.

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