Commissions of Inquiry

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Commissions of Inquiry


permanent or temporary international bodies established by special agreement to look into the factual circumstances and true causes of international disputes. Commissions of inquiry may be formed by the states involved in the dispute or by international organizations.

The first regulations concerning international commissions of inquiry were included in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 on the peaceful resolution of international conflicts. The first commission investigated the dispute between Russia and Great Britain over the Dogger Bank incident in 1904.

According to the Hague Convention of 1907, the aim of a commission of inquiry was to facilitate the resolution of an international dispute by elucidating the circumstances surrounding it. Unlike the decision of an arbitration tribunal, the report of a commission of inquiry was not binding, and the disputants were free to accept or reject the commission’s conclusions.

The regulations included in the Hague Convention of 1907 served as a model for other multilateral agreements on the peaceful resolution of international disputes, such as the Treaty on the Avoidance or Prevention of Conflicts Between American States (May 3, 1923), which is known as the Gondra Treaty.

The UN Charter established a film juridical basis for more highly effective, peaceful means of resolving international disputes, including procedures for inquiries. The possibility of appeals by states to commissions of inquiry is provided for in the UN Charter (art. 33, point 1), as well as in a number of other multilateral and bilateral treaties on specific issues, such as the Declaration on Principles of International Law (1970) and the Declaration on Strengthening International Security (1970).