ICMP Opens Headquarters in The Hague

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The ICMP Board of Commissioners held its 18th meeting today, in The Hague. The Commissioners, together with ICMP’s directors, discussed ICMP’s evolving role in addressing the global challenge of missing persons and examined ways of securing sustainable funding that will allow ICMP to carry out its mandate wherever it is needed in the world.

The ICMP Board of Commissioners consists of Ambassador (Ret) Miller, Her Majesty Queen Noor, Former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok, former Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebæk, former OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Rolf Ekeus, UK Minister of State for Care and Support Alistair Burt, and former Thai Foreign Minister and Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Surin Pitsuwan. Dr Surin, who joined the ICMP Board of Commissioners in June, was not present at today’s meeting.

On Thursday evening, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, Mayor of The Hague Jozias van Aartsen, Her Majesty Queen Noor, Ambassador Miller, Director-General Bomberger, and Norah Fuatham from Uganda and Ram Kumar Bhandari from Nepal, representing associations of families of missing persons from around the world, spoke at the formal opening of ICMP’s new headquarters at Koninginnegracht 12 in The Hague.

ICMP was founded on 29 June 1996, at the initiative of US President Bill Clinton, to spearhead the effort to account for the 40,000 people who were missing as a result of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Twenty years later, more than 70 percent of those people have been accounted for (including 7,000 of the 8,000 victims of the Srebrenica genocide).

In 2001 ICMP created a standing capacity to use DNA as the first line in conducting large-scale identifications of missing persons. This revolutionized the process and provided scientific evidence of identity that could be used for criminal trial purposes. ICMP also transformed how data is collected, safeguarded and shared in a manner that meets the privacy requirements of families of the missing and the obligation of states to find the missing. In 2003 ICMP began to operate globally, and today it is active throughout the world, exercising a mandate to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying missing persons from conflict, migration, human rights abuses, disasters, crime and other causes, working with governments to establish legal frameworks, technical capacity and social consensus that makes it possible to launch and sustain effective strategies to account for the missing.

On 15 December 2014 a Framework Agreement was signed in Brussels by the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg and Sweden, establishing ICMP as a treaty-based intergovernmental organization. The Agreement has since been signed by Chile, Cyprus, El Salvador and Serbia. It remains open for accession by other states.

In October 2015 ICMP signed a Headquarters Agreement with the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Read the full speech by Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders here.