Knut Vollebaek Elected as Chair of the ICMP Board of Commissioners

The Hague, 23 June 2022:  Former Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek has been elected as the new Chair of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Board of Commissioners. Mr Vollebaek, who has been a member of the Board since 2013, replaces former US Ambassador Thomas Miller, who has served as Chair since 2011.

Ambassador Vollebæk was the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities from 2007 to 2013. Prior to that, he was Norway’s Ambassador to the United States between 2001 and 2007 and Foreign Minister from 1997 to 2000. He was Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE in 1999.

“I am honored to be selected to fill this role and look forward to working with my fellow board members and ICMP staff to continue ICMP’s efforts to address the global challenge of missing persons,” Mr Vollebæk said following his appointment by the Board of Commissioners on 20 June.

ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said…

ICMP Applauds US Supreme Court Ruling on Native American Children

The Hague, 22 June 2023: The ruling delivered on 15 June by the United States Supreme Court by a vote of 7-2, that Native American children can continue to be protected under federal law against removal from tribal communities into foster care or adoption by non-Natives, has been welcomed by Native American Tribal leaders. Tribal Nations within the US saw this case as an attack on recognized Tribal Sovereignty and an existential threat to their Nations. In his consenting ruling, Justice Gorsuch extensively quotes historic and current reports on how the legacy of the education system, including boarding schools, imposed on Native communities has led directly to the ongoing need for legislation such as the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Commenting on the decision, International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Director-General Kathryne Bomberger noted that “the US Supreme Court has reaffirmed the enduring relationship with Tribal Nations in America, including their…

National Indigenous Peoples Day: Helping Survivors Investigate Suspected IRS Crimes

National Indigenous Peoples Day: Helping Survivors Investigate Suspected IRS Crimes

The Hague, 21 June 2023: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) recognizes on this Indigenous Peoples Day the tremendous weight that Survivors and communities continue to carry on the issue of Missing Indigenous Children and Unmarked Graves from the former Indian Residential Schools (IRS) across Canada. ICMP looks forward to working with families and survivors on their journey to obtaining answers and securing justice.

The First Nations leadership, including through a resolution by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chiefs, mandated the AFN to invite ICMP to facilitate and support an Indigenous-led process to explore options for addressing the issue of unmarked burials. Accordingly, the Technical Arrangement signed between Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and ICMP in January 2023 envisaged ICMP working with Indigenous survivors and families, including working with Metis and Inuit Survivors and families.

ICMP welcomes the…

Профілі зниклих безвісти з України: воєнні злочини мають бути розслідувані

Гаага, 20 червня 2023  – З огляду на величезне зростання кількості зниклих безвісти, Україна «має розробити ефективнішу та гуманнішу державну стратегію щодо зниклих безвісти, щоб люди, які опинились у цій жахливій ситуації, не були самотніми», заявила лауреатка Нобелівської премії миру Олескандра Матвійчук на зустрічі, організованій Міжнародною комісією з питань зниклих безвісти (МКЗБ) у її штаб-квартирі в Гаазі.

Під час публічного обговорення зусиль із запровадження ефективного процесу розшуку зниклих безвісти в Україні пані Матвійчук, яка є головою Центру громадянських свобод у Києві, наголосила на масштабі проблеми, оскільки десятки тисяч людей вважаються зниклими безвісти після російського вторгнення у лютому минулого року, додавши до тих, хто вже перебував у розшуку після початку російської агресії в 2014 році.

Під час заходу – «Профілі зниклих безвісти: голоси українських родин» – родичі зниклих безвісти розповідали про свій досвід і закликали до сталого процесу щодо зниклих безвісти як життєво важливої інвестиції в мир і справедливість.

Її Величність Королева Нур,…

Profiles of the Missing from Ukraine: War Crimes Must be Investigated

The Hague, 20 June 2023 – In the face of a huge surge in the number of missing persons, Ukraine “must develop a more efficient and more humane state strategy on missing persons so that people facing this terrible situation will not be alone,” Nobel Laureate Oleskandra Matviychuk said today at a meeting organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) at its Headquarters in The Hague.

During a public discussion on efforts to establish an effective missing persons process in Ukraine, Ms Matviychuk, who is Head of the Center for Civil Liberties in Kyiv, emphasized the scale of the challenge, with tens of thousands of people reported missing since the Russian invasion in February last year, adding to those already being sought following the initial Russian invasion of 2014.

During the event – “Profiles of the Missing: Voices of Ukrainian Families” – relatives of the missing spoke about their experience…

Another Tragedy: Another Call for Migration Reform

The Hague, 16 June 2023: The sinking of an overcrowded fishing boat on 14 June off the coast of Greece, resulting in multiple deaths and disappearances, will require a major international effort to account for hundreds of missing persons, Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) said today.

ICMP has already offered to assist the Greek authorities in locating and identifying the missing, “but this will be an international effort – a large number of those who were aboard the vessel were Syrian, but there were many other nationalities too. Under international law, governments have interconnected obligations to investigate disappearances and repatriate human remains.”

ICMP has offered to send teams to Athens to collect reference samples from relatives of the missing, which can be compared with DNA profiles extracted from unidentified human remains. This will significantly facilitate efforts to identify victims of the tragedy.

On Friday afternoon,…

Developing an Effective Missing Persons Strategy for Syria

Sarajevo, 12 June: A group of family representatives and civil society activists from Syria completed a weeklong visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) hosted by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). The visit is part of a program to support the development of an effective strategy to account for the more than 130,000 persons who are missing in the Syrian context, including ongoing cases of disappearances since 2011.

The study visit brought together representatives from different organizations, who had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the BIH Missing Persons Institute, the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees, and the War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office.

“ICMP is committed to helping Syrian civil society to build a sustainable process to locate all missing persons and to investigate their disappearance and secure the rights of all families to truth, justice, and reparations,” ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said, noting that strategies that had succeeded in…

ICMP and associations of families of missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina presented the results of the projects in 2022

Sarajevo, 25 May 2023: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and associations of families of missing persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) presented the results of eight projects completed within the cycle for small grants from 2022, financially supported by the Delegation of European Union to BIH and the Kingdom of Sweden.

“Family associations are the driving force in accounting for the missing and manage to keep this issue in the focus of the public even so many years after the war”, said Samira Krehic, Deputy Head of ICMP Western Balkans Program. “Despite their immeasurable contribution in accounting for more than 75% of the 32.000 persons reported missing after the conflict, most associations still do not have consistent financing and mostly rely on international donors,” Krehic added.

Semina Alekić, chairwoman of the Coordination of the Association of Families of Missing Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that through the project…

Ukrainian Forensic Experts Conduct Study Visit at ICMP 

The Hague, 2 June 2023: Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has resulted in tens of thousands of missing and disappeared persons and the numbers continue to rise by the day. Circumstances in which people go missing include forcible deportations, summary executions, incommunicado detention, kidnapping, and family separation, including unlawful adoptions and trafficking in human beings.

Experts from laboratories in the Ukrainian ministries of Health and Justice and representatives from the Bokarius Forensic Science Institute and the Lviv Forensics Experts Bureau, today completed a five-day working visit to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Headquarters in The Hague; a visit supported by the European Union’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (EU FPI). The experts received a series of briefings on the stages of an effective DNA-led process to account for large numbers of missing persons.

In ICMP’s DNA laboratory, the Ukrainian experts were able to see at…

ICMP supports the Halabja Chemical Attack Victims Association on International Missing Children’s Day

Erbil, 25 May 2023 Today, on International Missing Children’s Day, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) joined the Halabja Chemical Attack Victims Association for a commemorative event. This brought together families to honor the memory of their loved ones who went missing during the attack on the city of Halabja in 1988 with chemical weapons. The families also had the opportunity to meet with members of the Committee on the Fate of Missing Children of Halabja established by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and Members of Parliament from the Kurdistan Region to discuss the work of the Committee in fostering collaboration between all stakeholders.

“During the chemical attack on Halabja city on March 16, 1988, more than 400 children went missing. Families of the missing children in Halabja place their hope in the efforts of KRG’s newly established committee to clarify the fate of their loved ones and…