From 2007 to 2013, Mr. Vollebæk served as the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. Prior to that, he served as Ambassador to the United States between 2001 and 2007 and Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1997 to 2000. He was Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE in 1999. Mr. Vollebæk’s diplomatic career includes assignments to New Delhi, Madrid and Harare. He was Norwegian Ambassador to Costa Rica in 1991-1993.
Mr. Vollebæk joins ICMP’s group of distinguished Commissioners, including Her Majesty Queen Noor; Mr. Willem Kok, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands; Mr. Rolf Ekeus former OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Ms. Carolina Barko, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia; and ICMP Chairman Ambassador Thomas Miller.
“The issue of missing persons is one that haunts many countries around the world. There are millions of persons missing from armed conflict and human rights violations. In addition, it is estimated that thousands of persons go missing every year from organized violence including human trafficking and drug-related violence. Through its groundbreaking work in the former Yugoslavia, where over 70% of the 40,000 persons missing from the armed conflicts of the 1990s have been accounted for, ICMP has demonstrated that a combination of international cooperation, domestic ownership of the issue, the use of modern forensic methods and a rule of law-based approach are key factors in accounting for the missing. I am therefore very pleased to accept the invitation to become an ICMP Commissioner,” said ICMP’s new commissioner Knut Vollebæk.
The ICMP is the only specialized international organization that addresses the issue of missing persons in all of its facets. The ICMP was created at a G-7 Summit in 1996 to work with governments and other authorities to assist them in their efforts to locate and account for persons missing from the wars of the 1990’s in the former Yugoslavia. ICMP’s mandate and activities were expanded in 2003 to enable the organization to work globally and to respond to cases of persons missing as a consequence of disasters and other causes.
Over the last 16 years, through its assistance to almost 25 countries, ICMP has modernized and transformed the international community response to the issue of missing persons and it has significantly advanced the difficult task of defining the responsibilities of states and other authorities confronted with the issue.