Building Effective Monitoring, Reporting, and Fact-Finding Mechanisms

Published: 
Apr 2012

In recent decades, the international community has exhibited an increased devotion to civilian protection and promotion of international legal accountability. To activate this sense of responsibility, during armed conflicts and internal disturbances, international actors have created numerous monitoring, reporting, and fact-finding (MRF) mechanisms to investigate potential violations of international law. But the academic and policy communities have not kept pace with the growing importance of these mechanisms, and MRF practitioners frequently suffer from a paucity of sufficient guidance. As a step toward filling this research gap, this article presents an in-depth examination of MRF mechanisms. The article first presents an analytical framework that examines key distinctions between different MRF activities and presents guiding principles applicable to all MRF mechanism types. Examining past MRF practice through the lens of this framework, the article then explores the process of creating MRF mechanisms. The article concludes by sketching possible next steps for the MRF community to build on this research foundation and develop standards for more effective MRF implementation.