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 on their successful efforts to hold the authorities in the region to account, the Commissioners urged family associations to lobby for the establishment of a single, unified regional list of missing persons.
At a meeting with the directors of the BiH Missing Persons Institute (MPI), the Croatian Government Commission on Missing Persons and the Serbian Commission for Missing Persons, the Commissioners welcomed Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s signing of a missing persons protocol this year, as well as the near finalization of a protocol to be signed by Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. They also welcomed the completion and harmonization of Croatian and Serbian lists of missing persons and called for the establishment of a digital online regional list that can be updated in real time.
After their meeting with the Chair of the BiH Council of Ministers, the Commissioners met with the members of BiH Presidency. The Commissioners commended Bosnia and Herzegovina for signing, in Mostar in August 2014, the ICMP Declaration on the Role of the State in Addressing the Missing Persons Issue, which, they said, “shows a serious commitment to continue the search for the 8,000 persons still missing, and upholding rights of families to truth, justice and social and economic benefits.”
The Commissioners called on the BiH authorities to ensure that the MPI is properly resourced, noting that the Council of Ministers should assume full managerial oversight of the MPI, and they reiterated ICMP’s call for the BiH authorities to verify the Central Records of Missing Persons, to complete the review of unidentified remains in BiH mortuaries, and to establish the Fund for the Families of the Missing.
Former US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Thomas Miller chaired the 17th Commissioners’ 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.