Yearly Archives: 2015

A Systematic and Effective Challenge to Lawlessness

The Daily Telegraph published an article today by ICMP Commissioner Alistair Burt, on the “political and moral failure on a catastrophic scale” that took place 20 years ago when 8,000 people were murdered in the UN-protected enclaves of Zepa and Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia. He describes the Srebrenica genocide of July 1995 as “a brutal and dangerous challenge to the rule of law” adding that “when the rule of law is challenged anywhere it is challenged everywhere.” Commissioner Burt argues that the way to address “people who equate killing with strength, who equate murder with virtue” is to deal “in demonstrable facts – not contending ideologies or opinions but hard facts – and we should uphold the rule of law.” He explains that ICMP’s work, that has made it possible to account for tens of thousands of missing persons, including almost 7,000 of the victims of Srebrenica, has been…

Authorities Will Sustain Search for the Missing

10 July 2015: The Commissioners of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) met with the Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers in Sarajevo today.

The Commissioners noted that Bosnia and Herzegovina has accounted for more than 70 percent of the missing – around 23,000 people. No other country has matched this. ICMP has helped to identify more than 14,500 of the missing using DNA.

The Commissioners assured Chairman Zvizdic that while ICMP will move its headquarters from Sarajevo to The Hague this year, it will maintain a program in the region and continue to support the effort by the BiH authorities to account for 8,000 people who are still missing. The Commissioners briefed Chairman Zvizdic on key steps that ICMP believes need to be taken in order to sustain this effort.

Commending the authorities for signing the Declaration on the Role of the State in Addressing the Missing Persons Issue,…

Commissioners Discuss ICMP’s New Global Role

10 July 2015: In Sarajevo today, the Commissioners of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) held their 17th plenary meeting since ICMP was founded in 1996, and their first meeting since the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden and Luxembourg signed a Framework Agreement in December last year establishing ICMP as a treaty-based international organization.

In the period 2015 to 2018, ICMP’s core objective will be to strengthen the capacity of the global community to address the problem of missing persons, by defining the nature and extent of the challenge and formulating and applying effective strategies to meet it. ICMP will move its headquarters to The Hague in 2015, but will continue its Western Balkans program at least until the end of 2016.

After their plenary meeting, the Commissioners met representatives of the Regional Coordination of Associations of Families of Missing Persons from the former Yugoslavia. Congratulating the Regional Coordination…

Process of Asserting the Rule of Law Continues

ICMP Commissioner Knut Vollebaek during his visit to BiH

Oslobodjenje daily newspaper published an article today by ICMP Commissioner Knut Vollebaek on the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. “This crime, in its scale and systematic execution, challenged the rule of law not just in a small Bosnian town but far beyond,” Vollebaek wrote. “It is imperative that this anniversary does not pass simply with hand-wringing and expressions of sorrow.” He noted that the perpetrators had “acted as though the law had been neutered” but that while “the process of asserting – or re-asserting – the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been slow and incomplete, it has continued steadily for almost two decades. It is in the interest of civilized societies everywhere to understand what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina in July 1995 and why it happened. The law that was cast aside then is the same law from which we seek protection today.” The…

Why we are excavating the dead of Srebrenica

Family members gathered at Srebrenica memorial cemetery

The Guardian published an article today by International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Director-General Kathryne Bomberger on the work done by ICMP over the last two decades to help families of the missing, local Bosnian authorities and domestic and international courts locate and identify the victims of Srebrenica. “This has made it possible for families to bury their dead with dignity,” she wrote, “and it has made it possible to piece together what happened and to prosecute some of those who were responsible for the murders.” Noting that on Saturday, at a ceremony that will be attended by world leaders as well as tens of thousands of mourners, more than 100 newly identified bodies will be laid to rest in the cemetery at Potocari, near Srebrenica, Bomberger wrote that “those who killed in Srebrenica in July 1995 believed they could get away with murder. They thought they could erase…

Truth and Justice Will Prevail

An article by ICMP Commissioner Wim Kok on the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide was published by the BiH news portal today. Noting that “the right response to evil is to set a clear course out of the darkness,” Commissioner Kok reviews the steps that have been taken to bring those responsible for the genocide to justice. He concludes that “Each of the simple white headstones that stand in serried rows in the country cemetery outside Srebrenica has a name. Each of the victims has been identified. And with each identification a portion of the killers’ evil intent has been confounded – because one of the objects of the genocide was to erase any trace that these people had ever existed. The intent was to destroy existence and memory. Each identification refutes this.” The full text of Commissioner Kok’s article can be read here

A Deadly Warning: Srebrenica Revisited

A BBC documentary presented by Myriam Francois-Cerrah examines the experience of a small group of British young people, born in 1995, the year of the Srebrenica Genocide, as they visited Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier this year and learned about the only recognized genocide on European soil since World War Two. The film includes a visit by the young people to the Podrinje Identification Center in Tuzla, where they were briefed by ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger and ICMP Senior Forensic Anthropologist Dragana Vucetic. The visit was organized by the UK charity Remembering Srebrenica. The documentary can be viewed at

More than 100 newly-identified bodies will be laid to rest

The International Business Times published an article on Srebrenica today written by ICMP Chairman Thomas Miller and ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger, stressing that that “recognizing and communicating the nature and scale of the crime” is an indispensable basis for ensuring that it is not repeated. “The killers sought to hide the evidence of their crime with the utmost callousness, using mechanical diggers to exhume bodies and scatter them across multiple secondary graves that they believed would be difficult to detect,” Miller and Bomberger wrote. “In the process they commingled the bones of the dead in a way that they may have thought would make them impossible to identify. They sought to destroy the very identities of the people they had murdered. In the Western Balkans, ICMP has led a process that has made it possible to account for more than 70% of the missing, an unprecedented achievement. In the…

Truth and Justice Are Antidotes to Violence and Hatred

On 7 July the Huffington Post published an opinion piece by ICMP Commissioner Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan describing the remarkable response of families of the missing in the years since the Srebrenica genocide. Queen Noor wrote that she has spent long periods over the last two decades in the company of the Mothers of Srebrenica, who are “among the bravest and most inspiring people it has ever been my privilege to meet.” She stressed that “they have refused to abandon the pursuit of justice, and they have refused to descend to the level of the men who murdered their fathers and husbands and sons: they have refused to hate.” She stressed that ICMP has responded to the horror of Srebrenica with effective strategies that use state of the art technology and foster the rule of law. “Each of the thousands of white headstones at Srebrenica bears a…

Mechanics of Migration

Bangladeshi migrant workers who have crossed the Egyptian border wait patiently for a repatriation flight home, relieved to have escaped the fighting in Libya. Picture © Stabilisation Unit/DFID

Rachele Sbrissa examines enforced disappearance, people trafficking and missing persons issues that are an integral element in the Mediterranean migration crisis

Migration and forced migration have become issues of growing international attention and concern. A majority of people move voluntarily, but in 2013, out of 232 million estimated migrants, Behind the statistics, the plight of migrants and refugees constitutes a serious humanitarian emergency, which has recently been brought into the spotlight by rising immigration flows affecting Europe, notably through the main transit routes of the Mediterranean and the Balkans. Despite huge sums of money being spent on collecting migration and border control data, relatively little is known about the migrants who die during their journey and/or…