Best Practices for Human Rights and Humanitarian NGO Fact-Finding

Full Article

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Best Practices for Human Rights and Humanitarian NGO Fact-Finding discusses the centrality of the need for accuracy in NGO reporting, noting that few mechanisms regulate reporting methods. Most strikingly, the NGO community has not adopted any methodological standards for fact-finding. Without guidelines for NGO fact-finding output, the international community risks relying on reports that have no clear measure of reliability and may in fact be detrimental to the pursuit of human rights. This work outlines available resources and proposed standards for international NGO fact-finding missions.

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Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: The Need for Standardized Fact-Finding Methodology
Chapter Three: Guidelines for NGOs
Chapter Four: Fact-Finding Case Studies

  • Documenting Violations of International Humanitarian Law in Kosovo (1999) – The International Crisis Group
  • The International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia (2008)
  • Democratic Republic of Congo Mapping Exercise (1993-2003) – UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • The Work of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch: Evidence from Colombia (1988 – 2004) – Conflict Analysis Resource Center/University of London
  • Human Rights Watch and the Lebanon War (2006)

Chapter Five: Analysis and Conclusions
Appendices; Bibliography; Index


Gerald Steinberg is president of NGO Monitor and professor of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University. His research interests include international relations, Middle East diplomacy and security, the politics of human rights and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Israeli politics, and arms control. Steinberg works with a number of international organizations (NATO, UN University, OSCE, SIPRI); participates in track-two workshops and in the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA); and is the founder of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation at Bar Ilan University. His op-ed columns have been published in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Ha’aretz, International Herald Tribune, Jerusalem Post, and other publications. Recent academic publications include “The Politics of NGOs, Human Rights and the Arab-Israeli Conflict” (Israel Studies); “Realism, Politics and Culture in Middle East Arms Control Negotiations” (International Negotiation); and “The UN, the ICJ and the Separation Barrier: War by Other Means” (Israel Law Review).

Anne Herzberg is the Legal Advisor of NGO Monitor. Her areas of expertise include international human rights and humanitarian law, NGOs and the UN system, universal jurisdiction, and international criminal law. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and Columbia University Law School, where she was named a James Kent Scholar and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. She also served as the Managing Editor for the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. Prior to joining NGO Monitor, Anne worked as a litigation associate in New York. As part of her pro bono work as an associate, she assisted asylum seekers and performed work for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Her publications have appeared in major news outlets including the Wall Street Journal (Europe), Ha’aretz, Jerusalem Post, YNet, and Jewish Ideas Daily. She is the author of NGO ‘Lawfare’: Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict, co-editor of The Goldstone Report “Reconsidered”: A Critical Analysis, and has also published on the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (“Rule 61: The Voice of the Victims Screams Out for Justice”) in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.

Jordan Berman received a J.D. from UCLA School of Law in 2008 and a B.A. from Brandeis University in 2003. He is a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois, where he worked for two years as a Staff Law Clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. During law school, he served as Managing Editor of the UCLA Law Review, which published his 2007 article, “The Presumption of Sanity and Clark’s Categorization of Mens Rea Evidence.” He also worked as the Legal Research Assistant to the Chancellor of UCLA, as a Law Clerk for the California Attorney General’s Office, and as a Prosecution Extern for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. In 2010-11, Jordan served as the Legal Research Fellow for NGO Monitor’s “Best Practices” project.


About the Authors