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Fact-finding is the job of a person or group of persons in a judicial or administrative proceeding that has or have the responsibility of determining the facts relevant to decide a controversy. The term trier of fact generally denotes the same function. The process is an extremely important part of the communication process.
On 9 December 1991, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved the Declaration on Fact-finding by the United Nations in the Field of the Maintenance of International Peace and Security. The resolution emphasized
...that the ability of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security depends to a large extent on its acquiring detailed knowledge about the factual circumstances of any dispute or situation.
to encourage States to bear in mind the role that competent organs of the United Nations can play in ascertaining the facts in relation to disputes or situations.
There is also a range of fact-finding procedures in the United Nations relating to serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law, as well as fact-finding on the crimes of aggression, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity which is carried out by the International Criminal Court. Professor Lyal S. Sunga discusses how UN human rights special procedures fact-finding can help the International Criminal Court find facts and how the two should be made complementary.
Fact finders often have the job of determining what facts are available and their relevancy.
The position of fact finder is determined by the type of proceeding. In a jury trial, it is the role of a jury in a jury trial. In a non-jury trial, the judge sits both as a fact-finder and as the trier of law. In administrative proceedings it may be a hearing officer or a hearing body.