Yearly Archives: 2017

Rights-Based Strategies to Account for the Missing

Stockholm, 1 June 2017: Concrete and effective scientific, legal, political and social strategies can help governments and stakeholders to account for the hundreds of thousands of people who go missing as a result of conflict, disasters and other causes, Her Majesty Queen Noor said in Stockholm on Wednesday. Queen Noor was speaking at the opening of a “Profiles of the Missing” conference organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons and hosted by the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.

Queen Noor emphasized that implementing these strategies “is how we can most constructively honor and remember the missing and how we can secure the rights of those who have been left behind.”

Speakers from around the world shared their personal experiences, and explained the rights-based, rule-of-law approach that families of the missing have developed in order to ensure that authorities take all necessary…

Families seek Belgrade-Pristina cooperation

Pristina, 28 April 2017: ICMP presented its third Kosovo Stocktaking Report this morning at a press conference in Pristina. The previous Stocktaking Reports were published in 2005 and 2010. The report provides a detailed account of progress in accounting for those who went missing during the conflict, together with recommendations on how more progress can be made.

In the 17 years since the end of the conflict, more than 6,000 cases of human remains have been recovered on the territory of Kosovo, and almost 900 on the territory of Serbia. Since 2002, more than 2,500 missing persons cases have been resolved through the use of effective forensic work, including DNA testing. Approximately 2,000 cases were identified by traditional methods, including visual identifications prior to 2002. Today, the number of missing persons is estimated to be over 1,600 persons.

Survivors and families of the missing…

ICMP Welcomes the Establishment of the Search Unit for Missing Persons in Colombia

The Hague, 7 April 2017: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) welcomes the decree establishing the Search Unit for Missing Persons in Colombia which was signed by President Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota on Thursday. The Search Unit will be in charge of addressing the issue of missing persons from the 50 year armed conflict. The signing ceremony took place at the Centro de Memoria, Paz y Reconciliación in Bogota.

“The decision to establish the Search Unit as part of the peace process underscores the recognition of the importance of resolving the issue of missing persons as an opportunity to advance peace and reinstate the rule-of-law, and thus to enhance confidence in public institutions on a highly emblematic issue,” said Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of ICMP. “The ICMP looks forward to working with the Government of Colombia in enhancing its institutional and legislative capacity…

Sustaining the Effort to Account For Missing Persons in Croatia and the Region

The Hague, 21 March 2017: Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo must take coordinated action to resolve cases of unidentified human remains from the conflict in former Yugoslavia, and systematically address the issue of mis-identifications that occurred prior to the use of DNA testing, Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans program said in Brussels today.

Mr. Holliday was speaking at a conference held at the European Parliament to review efforts to account for missing persons from the conflict in Croatia.

More than 6,000 persons went missing during the conflict in Croatia (1991-1995), of whom around 2,000 are still missing. ICMP has helped to identify more than 600 complex missing persons cases from the Croatia conflict through a joint project with the Croatian Directorate of Detained and Missing. An estimated 12,000 persons are still missing in the Western Balkans as a whole.


HRH the Prince of Wales Meets Representatives of Families of the Missing from Southeast Europe

The Hague, 8 March 2017: HRH the Prince of Wales invited representatives of families of the missing from Southeast Europe to meet with him at his home today. The meeting, facilitated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), allowed family representatives to brief HRH on the progress that has been made in accounting for those who went missing as a result of the conflicts in former Yugoslavia, and to present the steps that must be taken in order to ensure that efforts to account for those who are still missing continue. Today’s meeting, at Clarence House in London, followed a presentation in Pristina by families of the missing during a tour of the countries of the former Yugoslavia by Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in March 2016.

HRH noted that he had been impressed by…

Missing Persons from the Conflict in Croatia


Ahead of the publication of ICMP’s Stocktaking Report on Croatia, Matthew Holliday offers a brief overview of technical efforts undertaken by the authorities in Croatia and ICMP to account for more than 6,000 persons missing at the end of the early 1990s conflict.

In December 2016, ICMP provided the latest set of DNA identification reports to the Croatian Government Commission on Detained and Missing Persons, bringing the number of missing from the Croatian conflict that have been identified through the exchange of anonymized DNA profiles between ICMP and the Commission to more than 600. This cooperation is crucial: more than twenty years after the conflict in Croatia, the issue of the missing – including fulfilling the right of families of the missing to truth and justice – remains a complicating factor in efforts to strengthen the rule of law and promote bilateral cooperation…

More Ezidi Mass Graves Discovered

In November 2016, news agencies reported the discovery of mass graves believed to contain the remains of Ezidis in Iraq. Voice of America published an article on mass graves found in Sinjar

Da’esh forces occupied Sinjar in the summer of 2014, capturing Ezidis living in the area, and torturing and killing many of them. The first mass grave containing the remains of Ezidis was found in November 2015 after the town of Sinjar was retaken by Kurdish forces. The grave contained the remains of at least 78 women and children.

The Ezidi religious faith combines Islamic belief with…

Support from ICMP Donor Governments

Bojana Djokanovic considers the impact of renewed support in November and December 2016 for ICMP from key government partners.

The problem of missing and disappeared persons has intensified over the last two decades for a variety of reasons including climate change, migration, organized crime, and political instability in some parts of the world. The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) is the only intergovernmental organization tasked exclusively to work on this issue.

In November and December 2016, a number of donor governments renewed their support for ICMP’s global effort to help states address the challenge of large numbers of missing persons. The Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands made a financial contribution of one million euros to support ICMP’s global operations and to enable its transition to new headquarters in The Hague; the British Government made a commitment to provide ICMP with up…

Inter-Agency Meeting on Missing Migrants

An ICMP-IOM roundtable in The Hague highlights the need for greater international coordination in addressing the issue of missing migrants. To read the report, please click here.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has released preliminary figures for all migrant or refugee deaths worldwide in 2016 – reporting that 7,495 men, women and children died or went missing across five continents. This compares to 5,267 in 2014 and 5,740 last year, and brings the total for three years to 18,501. Migrant routes were more deadly in 2016, particularly  the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Europe, where nearly 4,600 migrants perished.

The issues surrounding missing migrants and refugees are unusually complex, involving a wide variety of legal, geographical and political factors. Migrants and refugees may be fleeing conflicts which are the subject of competing diplomatic interests; sea crossings bring international maritime…

Missing and Disappeared Persons: The World in 2016

A selection of news stories from key areas around the world where the issue of enforced disappearance and missing persons represented a strategic challenge in 2016.

Mediterranean Migration

Despite efforts by a number of organizations, including ICMP, the number of fatalities among migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean rose in 2016, thousands of trafficking victims went missing, and families in war-stricken parts of Africa and the Middle East were forced to endure additional trauma through the “ambiguous loss” of not knowing the fate of a missing loved one. Reuters reported on 9 January that dozens of Ethiopian and Somali migrants had died in the waters off Somaliland when control of their vessel was lost. Ninety-six bodies were washed ashore.  Newsweek carried a story on 16 February saying that tighter restrictions on the Greece-Macedonia border were leading to refugees slipping off the authorities’ radar. “People who…