A victim's right to truth and the ICC

The United Nations has established a ‘right to truth’ to be enjoyed by victims of gross violations of human rights. Such victims, and their communities, will have suffered terrible trauma and the belief is that knowledge of what happened and who was responsible can be of great importance in terms of both individual and social healing (including by victims being able to tell their story). There is concern to give this right legal force in the context of criminal trials by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of alleged perpetrators. However there are likely to be considerable difficulties in integrating this right with the practices of the ICC if it, the ICC, is to fulfil other obligations, such as fairness to defendants.

This project aims at improving the understanding of these difficulties by relating academic analysis to the views and attitudes of informed participants such as ICC lawyers and judges, defendant lawyers and victims’ representatives. The project involves obtaining such understanding through semi-structured interviews with these stakeholders. The interviews will be transcribed and the results analysed in terms of their outcomes and in respect of a further theoretical and jurisprudential analysis of the right.

The results are aimed to assist relevant groups, such as victims’ representatives and engaged NGOs, in their understanding of the possibilities and realistic limitations to the right, as well as contributing to the academic debate about the right. In particular, the research will address the expectation or hope that the ‘right to truth’ can be transposed into an enforceable legal right at the ICC. 

Project details



Dr Howard Davis, Bournemouth University

Funding programme

Law in Society

Grant amount and duration


September 2012 - August 2013


A Victim's Right to Truth and the ICC, H.Davis & M. Klinkner (2013) Summary report pdf

A Right to Truth: Victims and the International Criminal Court, M.Klinkner & H.Davis (2014) Torture - Asian and Global Perspectives (Asian Human Rights Commission), 3, p.55-59