Navigating Between Principle and Pragmatism: The Roles and Functions of Atrocity-Related United Nations Commissions of Inquiry in the International Legal Order
On 7 November 2018, Catherine Harwood defended her thesis 'Navigating Between Principle and Pragmatism: The Roles and Functions of Atrocity-Related United Nations Commissions of Inquiry in the International Legal Order'. The doctoral research was supervised by Prof. dr. L.J. Van den Herik and Prof. dr. C. Stahn.
- Catherine Harwood
- 07 November 2018
- Leiden Repository
Harwood identified around thirty UN atrocity0-related inquiries, most of which were established from 1992 onwards. She studied different stages of their lifecycle, namely the dynamics of their establishment, written mandates and commissions’ interpretations thereof, their working methods, legal analysis, findings and recommendations. Because inquiries examine different situations of concern, in a sense each one is idiosyncratic. By conducting comparative research, Harwood aimed to identify more general trends and patterns concerning their engagement with international law and their broader roles and functions.
The research finds that UN atrocity-related inquiries have the institutional dexterity to perform diverse roles and functions, which in turn shape the ways in which they engage with international law. Commissions seeking to promote accountability and the rule of law are linked to truth-seeking, giving a voice to victims, condemning violations and provoking corrective action. Such commissions have tended to use international law as a central frame of analysis.