On 26 September, the Oxford Programme on International Peace and Security (IPS), in partnership with International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the International Bar Association (IBA), the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) Simon Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide and the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations in New York, held a closed-door briefing of the Legal Advisers during International Law Week at the United Nations, titled ‘Options for the Establishment of a Standing Independent Investigative Mechanism’.
Over the course of the past three years, an IPS research team, in partnership with the IBA and the Simon Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, has carried out an in-depth study to better understand these challenges arising for UN accountability mandates and how they can be best supported moving forward. The report, entitled Anchoring Accountability for Mass Atrocities: the Permanent Support Needed to Fulfill UN Investigative Mandates, analyses the challenges and opportunities arising from accountability mandates, now frequently emanating from the HRC, as well as the experiences of the three independent investigative mechanisms established for Syria, Myanmar and ISIL/Daesh. Based on the research findings, the report concludes that the best option for the future is the creation of a permanent UN Investigative Support Mechanism (ISM or SIIM). The University of Oxford’s report was launched in May 2022 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva at a high-level panel addressed by Ambassadors from Germany, Liechtenstein and the United States.
Independently of Oxford, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has also undertaken a study looking at the future of accountability mechanisms in the global fight against impunity for serious human rights violations, and how to better support these mandates and redress inequities in the delivery of international justice and accountability moving forward. Similarly to Oxford, the ICJ report, entitled Options for the Establishment of a Standing Independent Investigative Mechanism (SIIM), concludes that the creation of a standing independent investigative mechanism would address many of the existing challenges faced by accountability mandates, leading to greater effectiveness and efficiencies. The report was launched in September 2022 at a high-level panel at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, which was co-sponsored by the University of Oxford and its partners, and also attended by Ambassadors from Germany and Liechtenstein.
Both of these reports have generated significant interest from states and civil society. The University of Oxford and the ICJ thus convened a discussion among the Legal Advisers about the proposals from both reports, and the road ahead to their implementation.