The importance of finding facts: revising Fyodor Martens’ concept of inquiry

Available in Russian

Author: Larissa van den Herik

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2017-3-24-33

Keywords: 1899 and 1907 Hague Peace Conferences; fact-finding; Human Rights Council; investigation; Martens; Srebrenica


This lecture revisits the concept of inquiry as developed in Martens’ times and tests its contemporary usefulness and application against a background that is shaped by cyberspace and the emergence of new technologies. Inquiry is, in short, about establishing or construing facts by an independent third party. In these days marked by allegations of misinformation, hacking, fake news and alternative facts, the importance of proper fact-finding and having independent institutions and mechanisms in place to establish facts is, perhaps, greater than ever. Building on a retrospective on the introduction of the concept of “inquiry” in international law, this article (based on a HSE-lecture) explores the present-day international legal fact-finding panorama and presents three different models. These are the technical expert model, the human rights advocacy model and the domestic model. The article also raises some questions regarding the resilience of contemporary fact-finding processes to future challenges and 21st century dynamics.

About the author: Larissa van den Herik – Vice Dean and Professor of Public International Law, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Citation: Van den Herik L. (2017) Vazhnost’ ustanovleniya faktov: vozvrashchayas’ k kontseptsii rassledovaniya F.F.Martensa [The importance of finding facts: revising Fyodor Martens’ concept of inquiry]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, no.3, pp.24–33. (In Russian).


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