ICMP International Treaty to Come into Force

The Hague, 10 April 2015: In early April the United Kingdom followed Sweden in ratifying the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the ICMP, which opened the way for the Agreement to come into force in mid May. The Framework Agreement was signed in Brussels on 15 December by the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg and Sweden. The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg will ratify the treaty during 2015.

The Agreement constitutes ICMP as a treaty-based international organization with its own system of governance and international capacities. It provides for a new organizational structure, including a Board of Commissioners as its principal organ and a Conference of State Parties.

“ICMP has now taken a major step forward in meeting the global challenge of addressing the issue of missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration and other causes,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger.

The Framework Agreement stipulates that ICMP will establish its Headquarters in The Hague, where it will be close to other international organizations in the justice and rule-of-law field. This move, which is subject to further administrative and legal arrangements, is expected to take place during 2015.

The Agreement reflects an emerging international consensus about the nature and scale of the missing persons problem worldwide and the urgent need to tackle this provblem in a coherent and effective way. It will enable ICMP to play a unique and indispensable role in the global effort to address the issue of missing persons. This is important for ICMP as an organization, but of course its importance goes well beyond that: the ICMP Framework Agreement represents a significant advancement of the rule of law and human rights. It firmly embeds the issue of missing persons in international cooperation, and provides for an instrument and mechanism for that purpose.

The Agreement establishes ICMP as the preeminent International Organization mandated to address in a comprehensive manner the global problem of missing persons, to assist States in discharging their obligation to prevent persons from going missing, and to investigate missing persons cases effectively. It specifically calls on ICMP to make a substantive contribution to global justice by strengthening the rule of law and helping to redress past omissions in humanitarian law.

The Agreement is open for signature by all states until 16 December 2015, after which governments can accede to the agreement.