Posts Categorized: News

Colombia’s Missing – a Systematic Approach to Resolving a Complex Issue

One of the tragic consequences of Colombia’s internal armed conflict has been the enforced disappearance of many thousands of people. The causes of these disappearances are more diverse than in other transitional societies. In Colombia, enforced disappearances have been perpetrated by a variety of groups, including paramilitary and guerrilla forces and state actors. Furthermore, as the conflict has not yet been brought conclusively to a close, disappearances continue to occur.

The disappeared in Colombia are located in numerous individual and multiple clandestine graves, as NNs (No Name) in ossuaries or cemeteries, or as partial remains recovered from rivers and other bodies of water. A recently found excavation site, La Escombrera (the dump), in Medellin has brought further attention to the issue. It is believed the site contains the remains of 300 victims. Excavation of the remains, which began in late July 2015, is reckoned to be the largest such undertaking…

International Day of the Disappeared

Events were organized around the world on 30 August to mark the International Day of the Disappeared, a commemoration designed to raise public awareness about the issue of missing persons from armed conflict and human rights abuses.

“Today is an appropriate occasion on which to recall that the issue of missing persons represents a global challenge that requires a global solution,” ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said in a statement. “As governments around the world struggle to come to terms with missing persons crises, it is essential that the issue is addressed in a way that focuses on strategic and institutional solutions.”

Ms Bomberger stressed that “whether a person is missing from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters or other causes, it is  a complex issue that entails securing the rights of families of the missing  ,” and she added that as the only international organization exclusively dedicated to accounting for the missing,…

The Issue of Missing Persons Demands a Global Solution

Well over 2,000 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean in 2015 and untold numbers have perished crossing the Sahara en route to ports in Libya and elsewhere. The statistics on missing migrants constitute a horrific backdrop to activities organized to mark the International Day of the Disappeared.

And the numbers of those who go missing on dangerous migration routes – across the Mexican-US border, for example, or south from the Bay of Bengal – are dwarfed by the numbers of those who are disappearing in parts of Central Africa, in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other conflict zones, not to mention the thousands who are victims of enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings as a result of repressive government or paramilitary policies.

“The International Day of the Disappeared is an appropriate occasion on which to recall that the issue of missing persons represents a global challenge that requires a global solution,” ICMP Director-General…

Authorities Must Help to Account for Those Who Are Still Missing

Activists in towns and cities across Bosnia and Herzegovina organized street events today to highlight the issue of missing persons. In addition to Sarajevo, Prijedor, Ilijas, Vogosca, Travnik, Srebrenica, Bijeljina, Ozren, Mostar and Brcko, related events were organized in Belgrade, Zagreb, Pakrac, and Pristina.

ICMP in cooperation with the Network for Building Peace and the Association for Social Research and Communication presented a “living sculpture” in the center of Sarajevo. This comprised installations designed by family members of the missing to represent their loves ones. The event highlighted key messages related to the missing persons issue:

• Demand truth and justice
• This concerns you too
• Report mass grave sites

– More than 30,000 people were missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the end of the war
– 70 percent of the missing have been accounted for
– We are still looking for more than 8,000 of our fellow citizens

Members of the public were invited to sign a petition calling on…

EU Supports ICMP Program in Kosovo

31 July 2015: Following the signing of a grant agreement with the EU today, International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) will receive support for its program in Kosovo. ICMP has been providing assistance in locating and identifying missing persons from the Kosovo conflict since 1999. The EU grant, which totals 400,000 Euro, will help enhance ICMP’s efforts.

ICMP has been working to address the issue of persons missing as a consequence of the Kosovo conflict since 1999. Since 2003, ICMP has been assisting Kosovo through DNA-based identifications, first with UNMIK and since December 2008 with EULEX Department of Forensic Medicine. ICMP has also assisted the Government of Serbia since 2001, in locating, recovering and identifying the missing. ICMP has empowered several dozens of associations of families of missing persons to claim their right to truth and justice and to lobby the authorities to fulfill their obligations to account for the…

Facts and Figures on Srebrenica

At the beginning of July, ICMP published an Infographic on Srebrenica that provides details about the work that has been done during the last 20 years to account for the estimated 8,000 missing, including numbers of victims who have been identified by different means, and statistics on Srebrenica-related war-crimes cases.

ICMP has led a process that has made it possible to account for 6,930 of the missing from Srebrenica, roughly 90 percent of all those reported missing. By establishing facts about the fate of individuals and identifying victims by name, ICMP has helped to create a verifiable historical narrative of what happened, where it happened, when it happened and to whom it happened. This gives the lie to those who would circumvent inconvenient truths by branding them as fabrications.

ICMP’s work has made it possible for the survivors of Srebrenica, as well as those from other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina…

Why we are excavating the dead of Srebrenica

On 9 July The Guardian published an article by ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger on the work done by ICMP over the last two decades to help families of the missing, the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and domestic and international courts locate and identify the victims of Srebrenica.

Following is the text of the article.

On Saturday, world attention will focus for a few hours on the town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia. The systematic killing that took place 20 years ago constitutes the only recognized genocide on European soil since the Second World War.

Weeks after the killings, the perpetrators returned, excavated the mass graves with mechanical diggers and transported bodies and body parts to secondary graves in an attempt to disperse and conceal evidence of the crime. This was an enormous undertaking considering that almost 8,000 people had been executed.

For nearly two decades, the International Commission…

Masculinities and Practices of Memorialization

Memorial for the Missing Perons in Argentina

Bojana Djokanovic and Rachele Sbrissa examine the impact of gender on memorializing the missing.

Globally, the majority of people who go missing from armed conflict and human rights abuses are men  and boys. This means that memorialization practices are mostly centered on the experiences and practices of women mourning and commemorating the death or enforced disappearance of male family members. While recognizing this fact, this article seeks to consider the practices of male commemoration and memorialization and to offer some thoughts on why these practices differ from those of women.

R.W. Connell, one of the most prominent theoreticians of the studies of masculinities, argues that gender and masculinity have to be understood as social practice structures reproduced within daily actions and historical settings ―masculinity is inherently relational and does not exist except in contrast to femininity. Thus, like femininity, masculinity is a social construct and is defined as everything…

Truth and Justice Will Prevail

ICMP Commissioner Queen Noor of Jordan spoke at the commemoration in Srebrenica marking the 20th anniversary of the genocide. ICMP Chair Thomas Miller, and Commissioners Wim Kok, Knut Vollebaek and Alistair Burt also participated at the ceremony, which was attended by world leaders and 50,000 mourners.

“We do not stand with you only to mourn, but to continue the long and steady process of seeking – and securing – truth and justice,” Queen Noor said.

She noted that almost 90 percent of around 8,000 who went missing from Srebrenica in July 1995 have been identified and buried with dignity. “Accounting for the missing has been indispensable in the struggle for justice; in the quest to answer lies with truth, to confront a monstrous crime with the steady, strong and certain application of the rule of law,” she said.

Queen Noor said the women of Srebrenica have endured the most painful adversity with…

ICMP Work Plan reflects new international status

In Sarajevo on 10 July, the Commissioners of the International Commission on Missing Persons 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.

Former US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Thomas Miller chaired the meeting, which was attended by Commissioners Queen Noor of Jordan, Wim Kok of the Netherlands, Knut Vollebaek of Norway, and Alistair Burt of the UK. Commissioner Rolf Ekeus of Sweden was unable to attend. ICMP Directors attended the meeting led by Director-General Kathryne Bomberger.

The Commissioners adopted Rules of Procedure in accordance with ICMP’s new international agreement and elected Thomas Miller as chair of the Board of Commissioners. They also reviewed and adopted ICMP’s work plan for the next three years.

In the period 2015 to 2018,…