In recognition of the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims [event website], UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile, JURIST news archive] urged global leaders Monday to take seriously [press release] the recommendations of commissions of inquiry and truth commissions in addressing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The day was established in 2010 [resolution, PDF] by the UN General Assembly [official website] to commemorate the death of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who was assassinated in El Salvador on March 24, 1980, for publicly denouncing violations of the human rights and human dignity occurring in El Salvador. The day is dedicated to the memory of victims of human rights violations and war crimes, and also honoring those who promote and protect human rights. Ban urged [UN News Centre report] the international community to support victims and protect those who speak out and fight to uncover facts about abuses.
Over the past year, the UN has supported the establishment of numerous Commissions of Inquiry in countries throughout the world. Earlier this month the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] adopted a resolution establishing a Commission of Inquiry [JURIST report] to investigate ongoing human rights violations in North Korea. Also in March,the UN Security Council [official website] established an International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic [JURIST report], tasked with examining reports of human rights violations, compiling information and helping identify perpetrators. In September the UNHRC extended the Commission of Inquiry in Syria [JURIST report], based on allegations that human rights violations in Syria were increasing in severity and number. The Commission of Inquiry in Syria [official website] was originally established in 2011. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry [official website], established by Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, has made numerous recommendations [JURIST op-ed] for human rights reforms while acknowledging its limitations as a nationally-established fact-finding inquiry.