Training Manual on Human Rights Monitoring

By Office Of The High Commissioner For Human Rights | Go to book overview

Chapter XVIII
BACKGROUND OF UNITED
NATIONS MONITORING
STANDARDS

Key concepts
Many of the monitoring principles and approaches set forth in this Manual have their
origins in previous efforts of the United Nations and other international organizations
to guide fact-finders. This chapter reviews the historical origins of such efforts and thus
places the Manual in its historical context.Efforts to codify rules for fact-finding can be traced back to 1907 (with the Hague
Convention for the Pacific Settlement of Disputes). Within the United Nations, general
rules are contained in the 1974 Model Rules of fact-finding procedure for UN bodies, in
the 1992 Declaration on Fact-Finding by the UN in the Field of the Maintenance of
International Peace and Security, and in a number of more recent guidelines for the
operation of UN human rights field operations.Several human rights field operations have received mandates similar to the United
Nations Observer Mission for El Salvador (ONUSAL):“The Mission's mandate shall include the following powers:
a. To verify the observance of human rights in El Salvador;
b. To receive communications from any individual, group of individuals or
body in El Salvador, containing reports of human rights violations;
c. To visit any place or establishment freely and without prior notice;
d. To hold its meetings freely anywhere in the national territory;
e. To interview freely and privately any individual, group of individuals or
members of bodies or institutions;

f. To collect by any means it deems appropriate such information as it
considers relevant.”

While such a procedural mandate appears to be quite comprehensive and adequate, the
challenge facing most human rights operations has been actually employing these
techniques in practice when faced with opposition from local authorities who are unaware
of the mandate and covert resistance from national authorities who wish to test the
resolve of the UN human rights field operation.

-359-

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