The Hague, 3 May 2021 – In a move that will deepen collaboration to benefit missing persons and their families around the world, Germany recently acceded to the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), becoming the 2014 Treaty’s ninth State Party.
Germany joins Afghanistan, Chile, Cyprus, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Serbia, Sweden and the United Kingdom as States Parties to the Treaty, which has also been signed by Belgium and El Salvador. The Treaty established ICMP as an intergovernmental organization headquartered in The Hague tasked with ensuring the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons cases from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration and other involuntary causes.
Germany’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Dirk Brengelmann, on 30 April formally deposited Germany’s instrument of accession to the depositary, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The German government on 17 March decided that Germany should accede to the Agreement.
Civil and international wars, as well as refugee and migration movements, which all lead to persons disappearing, mean that the need for ICMP’s work is ever-increasing, Ambassador Brengelmann said at the deposition ceremony.
“With its activities, ICMP contributes, on an individual level, to alleviating the suffering of relatives who receive certainty, albeit painful, about the fate of their loved ones. And on a societal level it can bring about stabilisation to a country and peace – with the neighbouring state or with other ethnic groups – and thus contribute to reconstruction and development after armed conflicts,” he said. “Perhaps Germany’s accession will inspire other countries to become members and support the indispensable work of ICMP.”
ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said Germany’s accession to the ICMP Agreement underscores the global need for and interest in the issue of missing persons. She noted that the accession came at a fitting time as ICMP marks its 25th anniversary in 2021.
“Germany is a longstanding supporter of ICMP and its global programs, and a key partner in our work to ensure that States uphold their responsibility to locate all missing persons and investigate the circumstances of their disappearance regardless of their ethnic, religious or national background,” she said. “Germany’s accession will deepen our collaboration to the benefit of missing persons and their families around the world. I hope other countries follow suit.”
ICMP was established in 1996, to help countries in the former Yugoslavia account for the 40,000 persons who were missing following the 1990s conflict. Today over 70 percent of those missing have been accounted for, including almost 90 percent of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide victims. In 2004, supporting States broadened ICMP’s mandate to cover missing persons issues globally, and the organization has since worked in over 40 countries.
Germany regularly supports ICMP’s work financially to assist countries facing missing persons situations, including through a 2020 €2 million grant to finance ICMP’s work in Iraq and in the context of Syria.
ICMP is a treaty-based international organization that seeks to ensure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration, and other causes, and to assist them in doing so. ICMP also supports the work of other organizations in their efforts, encourages public involvement in its activities and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tribute to the missing.