International fact-finding has increasingly relied on large-scale data mining, data analytics and related computer and information technology to gather information about international conflict situations which would otherwise be hidden before the eyes of the international community due to their secrecy, remoteness or complexity. Big Data methods such as GIS/mapping information, economic indexing, open sources such as social media and AI have all transformed the methods and outcomes of international fact-finding. They also go hand-in-hand with the risk of violation of privacy rights under international human rights law and of the enhanced north-south divide in fact-finding. The paper argues that Big Data as both evidence and fact-finding tool, despite all those risks, does democratise international dispute settlement by providing endless empirical materials about secret, remote or complex international conflicts.
Using scientific evidence in science-heavy litigation proves challenging for legally-trained judges in terms of crafting persuasive reasoning. When courts evaluate rival expert evidence and choose among competing science-based positions of the parties, they need to rely on epistemic rationalities to accept certain scientific claims as the basis of their adjudicatory findings. The presentation maps the benefits and risks of using different epistemic rationalities in judicial reasoning, such as scientific, legal, intuitive and hybrid epistemic benchmarks.
An analysis of human rights is proposed from the perspective of international space law and how remote sensing data may support courts since they can provide much needed relief and have already been used numerous times in legal proceedings to support judges in finding fair judgement. Satellite data has been beneficial for the International Court of Justice to determine the evolution of border issues or territorial disputes. The use of satellite imagery can also be helpful as evidence and to prove the violation of human rights (monitoring of refugees in crisis areas, illicit arm traffic, demolishing of houses, human trafficking), provide evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity and attacks against peacekeepers. Furthermore, in relation to SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) satellite imagery would be useful to support and built “just, equitable and more inclusive institutions”.
The legality principle in international criminal law ordains that any elements of a crime are duly defined. So far, international criminal courts have approached the question of civilian mental harm either with general reliance or no reliance to substantiated opinions of mental health experts. Drawing from domestic criminal law where the opinion of psychologists and psychiatrists is sought, the paper wishes to demonstrate how resort to such mental health experts in domestic law has contributed to the formation of gravity and duration as legal features for the assessment of mental harm, creating thus an assessment framework for civilian mental harm which can be transposed also to the international criminal proceedings in the course of trials relating to war crimes.
While the Syrian State has closed its borders to hide facts currently occurring in its territory, international bodies have never had so much information and evidence on a conflict, thanks to the use of technologies. The collection of this evidence even prompted the United Nations General Assembly to set up a new type of fact-finding mission: the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (M3I) to analyse and preserve this evidence. Bringing together a new type of experts in international investigations, this mechanism constitutes a true laboratory that requires an in-depth study.