Yearly Archives: 2023

Srebrenica: Truth, Justice and Reparations

Sarajevo, 10 July 2023: The DNA-led process developed in Bosnia and Herzegovina to identify victims of the Srebrenica Genocide and other crimes has contributed to a fundamental change in the way that countries address issues of truth and justice in war, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), Kathryne Bomberger, said today.

Ms Bomberger was speaking in Potocari at an international conference on Srebrenica organized by Srebrenica Memorial Center and World Jewish Congress. She noted that in the years immediately after the war in former Yugoslavia “some argued that documenting the crime and identifying the victims would undermine efforts to restore peace. During those years, when the process of identification was slow, Genocide denial was rife.”

However, when ICMP launched a radically new process in 2001 based on comparing DNA from unidentified human remains with DNA taken from living relatives of missing persons, the pace of identifications quickened…

For the Families of Srebrenica the Wait Never Ends

The Hague, 7 July 2023: In Srebrenica on 11 July, 30 victims of the 1995 Genocide will be buried. Their bodies have been exhumed from clandestine graves and identified. At least six of those to be buried this year were teenagers when they were murdered.

More than 7,000 of the 8,000 victims of the Genocide have been identified, the vast majority through DNA testing. The DNA-led process has been indispensable because the perpetrators of the Srebrenica Genocide tried to hide the evidence of their crime by systematically digging up mass graves in the weeks and months after the murders and distributing the bodies of victims in secondary and tertiary clandestine graves across eastern Bosnia.

On average, seven or eight separate DNA match reports are issued for each identified victim. This is because the bones of individual victims have been found in multiple mass graves.

In many cases, relatives of the victims choose…

Mediterranean States Can Access Forensic Capacity And Expertise to Locate and Identify Missing Migrants

Photo credit: Hellenic Coast Guard/Reuters

The Hague, 5 July 2023: Following the sinking of a fishing boat packed with migrants off the Greek coast on 14 June, the authorities in Greece and other countries have an obligation under international and domestic law to take effective steps to locate and identify victims and in due course repatriate their remains. More than 600 people may have drowned in the sinking of the Adriana. As many as one hundred children are among the missing.

Since 2018, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has been working with the governments of Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta to develop a Joint Process to account for missing migrants. Following the 14 June shipwreck, ICMP immediately offered to have blood-collection kits shipped to Athens with a view to taking reference samples from relatives of those who had gone missing. These samples can be compared with DNA taken from unidentified…

Cooperation with the Independent Institution On Missing Persons in Syria is Essential to its Success

The Hague, 30 June 2023: The resolution adopted by the 77th session of the UN General Assembly this week establishing the Independent Institution on Missing Persons in the Syrian Arab Republic is a “testament to the relentless efforts of Syrian Civil Society and families of the missing,” the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons, Kathryne Bomberger, said today. She added, “it is crucial that governments and international organizations get behind the Independent Institution and help it to succeed.”

The Independent Institution is to have “the full and meaningful participation and representation of victims, survivors and the families of missing persons”, according to the Resolution, and is to build “on existing capacities and survivor-informed best practices.”

Bomberger said the debate in the General Assembly had shown that countries understand the importance of this issue. “The 83 states that voted in favor of the Resolution did so because they know that…

Annual Report Highlights ICMP Programs and Plans

The Hague, 30 June 2023 – On the occasion of its 27th anniversary, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today published its Annual Report for 2022. The report, which can be accessed on the ICMP website, provides detailed information about ICMP’s programs and plans, as well as a comprehensive survey of missing persons issues around the world.

Highlights from ICMP’s operations in 2022 include new programs in Ukraine, Vietnam, Libya, the Caucasus, and Albania, with developments also noted in ICMP’s operations in Iraq, Syria-MENA, the Western Balkans, and Albania. During the year, work began on refurbishing ICMP’s Human Identification laboratory in The Hague, which serves as a strategic resource for governments around the world, with a standing capacity to process DNA samples at high volume. And two new Board members, Barbara Haering from Switzerland, and Thao Griffiths from Vietnam, brought the number of ICMP Commissioners up to eleven: five…

Libyan Experts Visit  ICMP to Advance Work On Locating Missing Migrants & Other Missing Persons

The Hague, 28 June 2023: Experts from Libyan institutions have completed a two-day visit to the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague. Representatives included experts from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Justice (Technical Permanent Committee on Mass Graves and Missing Migrants). During the study visit, the experts were briefed on measures to enhance their work in locating missing migrants and other missing persons and investigating disappearances in line with the rule of law.

Participants were able to see at first hand ICMP’s Integrated Data Management System (iDMS), which has helped to account for tens of thousands of people globally. They also attended presentations on methodologies for collecting and analyzing missing persons data, and during a tour of ICMP’s Human Identification laboratory they were briefed on the latest DNA identification techniques.

“This visit enhanced…

Strategic Consultations Held on ICMP’s Global Programs

The Hague, 28 June 2023: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has concluded a series of strategic discussions and consultations in The Hague to advance its programs around the world.

ICMP’s Board of Commissioners held its annual meeting at ICMP Headquarters on 20 June, during which Former Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek was elected as Chair, taking over from retired US Ambassador Thomas Miller, who has led the Board ICMP since 2011.

At a Profiles of the Missing event held the same day, representatives of families of the missing, civil society activists and senior policymakers from Ukraine discussed strategies to develop an effective missing persons process. Joining the discussion from Kyiv, Ukraine’s Minister of Justice, Denys Maliuska, highlighted the central role of accounting for the missing in the collective effort to uphold international and domestic law. During the event, several speakers encouraged the Ukrainian Government to conclude a pending Cooperation…

The International Commission of Missing Persons and Libyan Judicial Expertise Center, Representing Ministry of Justice and Permanent Technical Committee on Mass Graves and Missing Migrants, Sign Technical Cooperation Agreement

The Hague, 27 June 2023 – Chancellor Khaled Diab from the Center for Judicial Expertise of Libya’s Ministry of Justice, Dr. Elias Elhammruni from the Permanent Technical Committee on Mass Graves and Missing Migrants & Ambassador Thomas Miller Chairperson of the International Commission of Missing Persons (ICMP) have signed a Technical Cooperation Agreement in The Hague.

“The agreement paves the way for ICMP to help the authorities in Libya establish an impartial and effective process to account for large numbers of missing persons,” ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said. ”It will continue the work that ICMP undertook in Libya a decade ago, and it will provide the relevant agencies with tools to account for Libyans who have gone missing as a result of conflict and political instability, as well as migrants who have gone missing in their efforts to reach Europe .”

“We hope that this agreement between the Center for Judicial…

Libyan Experts Visit ICMP to Advance Work On Locating Missing Migrants & Other Missing Persons

The Hague, 27 June 2023: Experts from Libyan institutions have completed a four-day visit to the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague.  Representatives included experts from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Justice (Technical Permanent Committee on Mass Graves and Missing Migrants). During the study visit, the experts were briefed on measures to enhance their work in locating missing migrants and other missing persons and investigating disappearances in line with the rule of law.

Participants were able to see at first hand ICMP’s Integrated Data Management System (iDMS), which has helped to account for tens of thousands of people globally. They also attended presentations on methodologies for collecting and analyzing missing persons data, and during a tour of ICMP’s Human Identification laboratory they were briefed on the latest DNA identification techniques.

“This visit enhanced…

Knut Vollebaek Elected as Chair of the ICMP Board of Commissioners

The Hague, 23 June 2023:  Former Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek has been elected as the new Chair of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Board of Commissioners. Mr Vollebaek, who has been a member of the Board since 2013, replaces former US Ambassador Thomas Miller, who has served as Chair since 2011.

Ambassador Vollebæk was the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities from 2007 to 2013. Prior to that, he was Norway’s Ambassador to the United States between 2001 and 2007 and Foreign Minister from 1997 to 2000. He was Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE in 1999.

“I am honored to be selected to fill this role and look forward to working with my fellow board members and ICMP staff to continue ICMP’s efforts to address the global challenge of missing persons,” Mr Vollebæk said following his appointment by the Board of Commissioners on 20 June.

ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said…