The purpose of the present article is to critically evaluate the contemporary international law obligation to investigate military conduct in times of conflict and to identify relevant normative trends. It first discusses the breadth of the duty to investigate and shows that the duty to investigate is far broader than the Geneva grave breaches regime encompassing alleged violation of many other norms of IHL and IHRL and engaging the responsibility of both military and civilian officials. After discussing the main legal standards governing military investigations — genuineness, effectiveness, independence and impartiality, promptness and transparency, the article addresses trends in international legislation and state practice concerning the maintenance of independence under the challenging conditions featured in many military investigations. Finally, it explains the reasons supporting the move away from criminal enforcement in some cases and sketches a possible solution to some of the practical problems identified in this article—the establishment of a permanent commission of inquiry for evaluating IHL compliance in military operations.
By entering this website, you consent to the use of technologies, such as cookies and analytics, to customise content, advertising and provide social media features. This will be used to analyse traffic to the website, allowing us to understand visitor preferences and improving our services. Learn more