6th Regional Cooperation Meeting on Missing Persons’ Issue

Press Conference following the 6th Regional Cooperation Meeting on Missing Persons’ Issue

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) organized today in Sarajevo the 6th meeting on Regional Cooperation between governments on the issue of persons missing from the 1990’s armed conflicts.

The meeting held today focused on the 1991- 1995 conflicts and included representatives of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina (MPI), the Ministry of Family, Veteran’s Affairs and Inter-generational Solidarity of the Republic of Croatia, the Commission on Missing Persons of the Government of Republic of Serbia and the Commission on Missing Persons of Montenegro.As consequence of the armed conflicts of the 1990’s in the Western Balkans it is estimated that 40,000 persons went missing. This number includes the conflicts relevant to Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Kosovo. Today, approximately 26,000 persons have been accounted for and an estimated 14,000 persons are still missing in the region.

This progress also represents an unprecedented achievement when compared to other regions of the world affected by large numbers of missing persons from armed conflict, crimes against humanity and violations of human rights. While the governments in the region have made significant headway, they vowed to maintain the same level of commitment to search for the remaining 14,000 persons still missing. They acknowledged, however, that the remaining cases of missing persons may be more difficult to find.

The representatives of the governments of the region supported the initiative to organization a regional high-level summit on the missing persons next year. In addition, they supported an initiative to establish a common regional list of the missing. The governmental representatives also committed themselves to the creation of a regional working group, which will be tasked to review cases of identification which are of common interest. They also discussed strategies to enhance cooperation and to expedite the search for missing persons, including finalizing the process of creating bilateral agreements.

The ICRC and ICMP have co-chaired the Regional Cooperation Meetings since 2006, with the aim to facilitate dialogue and cooperation on the issue of missing persons between governments. These meetings are called to assess the results as well as to exchange information on activities between the representatives of the national expert bodies in the region and the international organizations on various aspects of the issue of missing persons.