Global Report on Missing Persons: Key Challenges & Strategic Opportunities

The Hague, 27 August 2021 – The first edition of the Global Report on Missing persons, published today, ahead of the International Day of the Disappeared, examines why increasing numbers of people are going missing around the world, why many remain missing, and the policies that governments and others can implement in order to address this issue in effective ways.

Published by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) with the support of the United Kingdom, the Global Report brings together the work of distinguished academics and practitioners to explore key challenges and strategic opportunities in the global effort to account for large numbers of missing persons.

The first edition of the Global Report examines the issue of missing persons as a result of irregular migration in the Mediterranean, Central America and East Asia, and disappearances in the context of conflicts in Africa and South Asia. Topics are studied from the perspective of state responsibility, human rights, and the rule of law, and the impact of large numbers of missing persons on peace implementation, human development and societal well-being.

The Global Report is part of a broader ICMP initiative to promote the exchange of ideas and practical proposals, based on expertise and experience. Future editions will identify common problems faced by countries and families around the world and seek solutions at the international and domestic level, based on the principle that accounting for the missing and securing the human rights of survivors is a central component of good governance, advancing the rule of law and state responsibility.

ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said the Global Report, which is part of the Global Forum on Missing Persons stipulated in ICMP’s founding treaty, “reflects a new international consensus that the issue of missing persons cuts across judicial and national jurisdictions and can only be tackled effectively by applying dedicated techniques as part of a coordinated multinational approach that respects human rights.”

“The Global Report will enable the development of approaches and methodologies that reinforce, and where necessary rebuild confidence in public governance,” ICMP Director of Policy and

Coordination, Andreas Kleiser said today. “It will deepen understanding of underlying problems and it will enhance abilities to define practical responses.” Mr. Kleiser said that, among other things, the Global Report will fulfil a crucial function by developing international benchmarks and standards on the issue of missing persons.

The 2021 Global Report concludes with a series of recommendations based on the analyses laid out in each of the chapters. It recommends that:

  • States that have not signed or ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance should do so;
  • States that have not already created criminal laws that specifically outlaw the crime of enforced disappearance should do so;
  • States must ensure that any specialized institutions tasked with locating missing persons are free from partisanship and cooperate effectively with judicial institutions and law enforcement;
  • States must ensure transparency of the processes of accounting for the missing and provide credible, reliable and accurate information regarding efforts to establish the whereabouts of missing persons and the circumstances of their disappearance;
  • States must make it easier for families to report a missing person and obtain information on any progress that has been made;
  • States must adopt measures to ensure a clearer legal status for missing persons and their families in order to assist them with administrative issues that may arise in cases where the legal status of survivors is indeterminate;
  • States must prevent gender-specific harms that women often experience, both as victims of disappearance and as relatives of the disappeared; and
  • States must recognize that effective efforts to account for missing persons and victims of enforced disappearance contribute to longer-term societal development.

Publication of the 2021 Global Report is part of a series of events marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of the International Commission on Missing Persons following an initiative at the G-7 Summit in Lyon in June 1996.


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. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.