ICMP Calls on International Community to Recognize Missing Persons as Global Problem

The Missing: An Agenda for the Future

The Missing: An Agenda for the Future

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) ended its conference today at the Peace Palace in the City of The Hague. Over the period of three days the delegates discussed the issue of missing persons from all causes, including, war, human rights violations, disasters, human trafficking, drug related violence, migration or other causes.

As Ambassador Tom Miller, Chairman of the ICMP, noted during the conference, “The issue of missing persons is as old as mankind itself. Yet there is virtually no understanding of the global dimension or the true scale of the problem. There are no guidelines regarding the responsibility of states to address this problem in all its facets. There are no universal standards, or legal frameworks in place that victim or survivor groups can refer to. And, there is no international mechanism that exists to address this global problem.”

’Furthermore,” he added, “when we as society have attempted to deal with missing persons, we have compartmentalized it. We drew lines and made distinctions between missing persons and victims of forced disappearance, or organized crime, or of human trafficking. While these distinctions are of importance in criminal trials, the mechanisms to investigate these events are remarkably similar as are the needs of the families of the missing.”

Following the conclusion of the conference, ICMP issued the following recommendations:

– The international community must recognize the global scale of the problem of missing persons;
– An international mechanism and standing capacity to identify the missing should be made available to provide a sustainable response to all missing persons cases and to rich and poor countries alike;
– The responsibility of governments in addressing missing persons cases following armed conflict and organized violence must be clearly defined;
– Standards and adequate data protection should be ensured in the use of advanced forensic science;
– The magnitude of this global problem must be properly researched and understood, including establishing accurate numbers of persons who go missing for whatever reason and to better understand the underlying causes.