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 accounting for tens of thousands of missing people is an indispensable element in restoring justice and peace to Syria. The Independent Institution must now succeed in its work.”

In 12 years of conflict, more than 130,000 people have gone missing. Men, women, and children have been abducted, killed, and forcibly disappeared, or have gone missing along migratory routes while fleeing from the fighting and many more disappeared during the recent earthquake. The Damascus government has declined to acknowledge or restrain disappearances perpetrated by its own forces and has taken no visible actions to address the issue of the missing.

ICMP has worked with Syrian organizations to develop a Central Data Repository on Missing and Disappeared Persons, and more than 70,000 Syrian relatives of the missing have so far submitted data. The Policy Coordination Group (PCG), launched in 2020 and facilitated by ICMP, has developed a series of policy proposals articulating the rights of the missing and disappeared, of detainees and their families. It is hoped that this work will contribute to the Institution’s efforts to find the missing.

“The Independent Institution has been established in response to the resolute and courageous advocacy of Syrian civil society organizations, who have fought for this issue to be taken all the way to the highest levels of the United Nations,” Bomberger said. “Practical and sustained cooperation, led by Syrians, to implement a shared strategy on missing persons among all members of Syrian civil society and the international community, particularly neighboring regional governments, will be absolutely essential to the success of the Independent Institution. Syrian families of the missing and Syrian civil society have done the heavy lifting, despite the daily pain of their existence – we must give them all our support.”


About ICMP

ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so.