SIDA Director-General Carin Jämtin visits ICMP’s Western Balkans program

Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina 28 February 2023 – Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) Director-General Carin Jämtin, Ambassador of Sweden to Bosnia and Herzegovina Johanna Stromquist, Head of the Europe and Latin America Department at Sida, Lisa Fredriksson, and the Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Sweden in BIH, Eva Smedberg.  witnessed the painstaking process of identifying victims of the conflict in former Yugoslavia during their visit to see the work of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

During the visit to Tuzla, the delegation that was accompanied by the Deputy Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, Samira Krehic learned how ICMP collects genetic reference samples from the families of the missing and how essential this is for the scientifically accurate, blinded process of DNA matching used to identify missing persons. So far, ICMP has collected data from 100,000 families of the missing and over 50,000 post mortem…

Canada Supports Efforts to Locate Missing and Disappeared Persons from the War in Ukraine

The Hague, 28 February 2023: – The International Commission on Missing Persons and the Government of Canada signed an agreement under which ICMP will support Ukraine in locating missing and disappeared persons following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Global Affairs Canada will provide 1.8 million Canadian dollars (roughly 1,345,000 USD) for a one-year project.

The ongoing war in Ukraine has resulted in tens of thousands of missing and disappeared persons. Circumstances in which people go missing in Ukraine include forcible deportations, summary executions, incommunicado detention, kidnapping, abduction and family separation, including unlawful adoptions and trafficking in human beings. ICMP is working with the authorities to develop an effective long-term process to account for the missing and, where missing persons cases are a result of war crimes, to bring perpetrators to justice.

Lisa Helfand, Canada’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, said Canadian support for ICMP in Ukraine, which will help…

ICMP Hosts Workshop on Use of Modern Forensic Genetics to Identify Distant Relatives from War in Vietnam

The Hague, 18 February 2023 – Tuesday, February 14, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) welcomed a delegation of scientists and government officials from Vietnam for a workshop on the use of modern forensic genetics to identify people who went missing decades ago as a result of the war in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese delegation, led by Professor Dr. Chu Hoang Ha, Vice President of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), included scientists from the Center for DNA Identification (part of VAST’s Institute of Biotechnology), and experts in the identification of war remains from relevant departments and ministries in Vietnam. International scientists represented at the workshop included Dr. Timothy McMahon, Director of the US Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) and Dr. Charla Marshall, Head of AFDIL’s Emerging Technologies Section;  Dr. Tam Ngo, cultural anthropological researcher from the German Max Planck Society; ancient DNA specialist Dr. Elena Zavala, University…

ICMP to Help Survivors and Indigenous Communities In Canada Address Legacy of Residential Schools

The Hague, 17 February 2023: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), which is an independent, treaty-based international organization, will provide support to Residential School Survivors and Indigenous communities in Canada to formulate next steps in addressing the issue of unmarked burials at Residential Schools. ICMP’s support follows a request for assistance by members of Canada’s Indigenous Community and a Technical Arrangement signed with the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC).

Tens of thousands of Indigenous children were removed from their families and sent to Residential Schools in the late 19th century and much of the 20th century. The schools, often characterized by an environment of systemic abuse, were predicated on eradicating Indigenous culture. Thousands of children died and went missing while attending these schools. Those that died were often buried in unofficial cemeteries or unmarked burial sites and their identities may be unknown.

ICMP will conduct information sessions and a…

Delegation of Vietnamese Officials, Scientists and International Forensic Geneticists Visit ICMP

The Hague, 14 February – This week, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) welcomes a delegation from Vietnam led by Professor Dr. Chu Hoang Ha, Vice President of Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) at its Headquarter in The Hague to take part in a series of events focused on modern forensic genetics and missing person identification in Vietnam. The delegation includes genetic researchers and experts in the identification of war remains from relevant departments and ministries in Vietnam.

“The sheer number of war remains to be identified – numbering hundreds of thousands – and the low quality of samples due to degradation over time and unfavorable burial environments requires state of the art DNA technology,” shared Prof. Dr. Chu Hoang Ha, describing the challenges faced by Vietnam on this issue. He underlined his appreciation of Senator Patrick Leahy and his Chief of Staff, Mr. Tim Rieser…

Thao Griffiths Joins ICMP Board of Commissioners  


The Hague, 29 December 2022: A Vietnamese citizen who continues to play a key role in US-Vietnam relations, in particular supporting reconciliation and healing after the war, Thao Griffiths has accepted an invitation to become a Commissioner of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). Ms. Griffiths will take up this position immediately.

“We are delighted that Thao Griffiths will join the Board,” ICMP Chair Thomas Miller said today. “She has extensive corporate and diplomatic experience and will make an invaluable contribution to ICMP’s efforts to help governments, including governments in Asia, address the issue of persons who have gone missing as a result of conflict, political instability, natural disasters and other causes.”

Since December 2021, Ms. Griffiths, has been Meta’s Public Policy Head for Vietnam. Before that, she served for nearly a decade as Country Director of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, working at the organization’s Hanoi and Washington…

Missing Persons Data Governance Group for Syria Maps Way Forward

The Hague, 21 December 2022: – The eighth meeting of the Data Governance Group (DGG) for Syria took place on 20 and 21 December 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. At the meeting, ICMP and participating Syrian civil society organizations took stock of progress made in collecting data on missing and disappeared persons from 11 years of conflict in Syria, and discussed the way forward in light of policy and institutional developments.  The DGG aims to advance best practice in the field of missing persons data management through the sharing of experience, mutual support and problem solving.


The DGG discussed the UNOHCHR-sponsored initiative to create a specialized mechanism on missing and disappeared persons from the conflict in Syria. It resolved to direct key support towards such a mechanism when it is established. The DGG will in particular further enhance its shared repository of missing persons cases, step-up analytical support for data consolidation, and directly…

ICMP-Facilitated Policy Coordination Group Discuss Paper on Syrian Amnesty Decrees

The Hague, 9 December 2022: At its 11th meeting today, the Policy Coordination Group (PCG) discussed a paper on the failure of the Syrian amnesty decrees to address the issue of missing persons and detainees. The PCG is a Syrian-led initiative on the missing and disappeared, facilitated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). Today’s meeting was held online under Chatham House rules.

The paper examines issues related to revealing the fate of missing persons and securing the release of detainees under amnesty decrees issued by the current authorities in Syria. It reflects the PCG’s refusal to accept any attempt under these decrees to deny accountability for perpetrators involved in violations against missing persons.

“These decrees have been abused in the past,” said one participant, “and they will simply be the basis for further human rights violations if they are used to pardon preparators. Amnesty can be a transitional justice measure to…

Syrian families residing in Europe provide data to support finding missing relatives from the war

The Hague, 2 December 2022 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has completed the second phase of a campaign to collect DNA reference samples from Syrian families living in Europe. The most recent campaign took place in Germany and the Netherlands between October and November 2022.

ICMP has collected data and received reports from more than 68,000 families representing more than 25,000 missing persons.  This data has been obtained voluntarily through reports to ICMP’s Online Inquiry Center (OIC) or through efforts to collect data directly from families of the missing with support from Syrian civil society organizations that work with ICMP.

The data collected includes information on where and when missing persons were last seen, and information about the circumstances of disappearance, including possible perpetrators. ICMP also collects genetic reference samples from families of the missing.  To date, ICMP has collected samples from 506 families of the missing living in…

Ensuring the Rights of Women Survivors To Justice, Truth and Reparations

Erbil, 25 November 2022 – Accounting for missing persons and victims of enforced disappearance “is an integral part of the effort to end violence against women,” Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), said today during a panel discussion facilitated by ICMP in Erbil. The discussion, held on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, brought together women survivors of missing persons, women-led households, women in leadership positions with the Iraqi authorities and women civil society activists.

“The gender aspect of disappearances must not be ignored,” Ms Bomberger said, and she highlighted challenges faced by women survivors and women-led households in Iraq when they attempt to claim their rights and access basic services.

“The state is obliged to conduct effective investigations into all missing persons – and the authorities in Iraq have made progress in fulfilling their obligations under national…