The Prospects, Problems, and Proliferation of Recent UN Investigations of International Law Violations

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Atrocity crimes rage today in Iraq, Syria, Myanmar, Burundi, and Yemen. Given their potential to establish facts and promote accountability, recently opened United Nations investigations of international law violations in each of these states are thus a welcome, even if belated, development. However, these initiatives prompt questions about their designs, both in isolation and relative to each other.

This article describes the investigations into alleged violations in these five states, examines their respective sponsors and scopes, and presents a wide range of questions about the investigations and their implications, including their coordination with each other and their use of evidence in domestic, foreign, hybrid, and international courts (such as the International Criminal Court). The article concludes that, while seeking accountability for international law violations is certainly laudatory, these particular investigations raise significant questions about achieving that goal amidst rampant human rights abuses in these five states and beyond. International lawyers, atrocity crime survivors, and other observers thus await answers before assessing whether these investigations will truly promote justice. 



Keywords: International Law, Atrocity Crimes, United Nations, ISIL, ISIS, Islamic State, Daesh, Da'esh, Terrorism, Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, Yazidi, Yezidi, International Criminal Court, Iraq, Syria, Myanmar, Burundi, Yemen, ICC, Justice, Accountability, Human Rights, Investigations