Strategic Consultations Held on ICMP’s Global Programs

The Hague, 28 June 2023: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has concluded a series of strategic discussions and consultations in The Hague to advance its programs around the world.

ICMP’s Board of Commissioners held its annual meeting at ICMP Headquarters on 20 June, during which Former Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek was elected as Chair, taking over from retired US Ambassador Thomas Miller, who has led the Board ICMP since 2011.

At a Profiles of the Missing event held the same day, representatives of families of the missing, civil society activists and senior policymakers from Ukraine discussed strategies to develop an effective missing persons process. Joining the discussion from Kyiv, Ukraine’s Minister of Justice, Denys Maliuska, highlighted the central role of accounting for the missing in the collective effort to uphold international and domestic law. During the event, several speakers encouraged the Ukrainian Government to conclude a pending Cooperation Agreement with ICMP which will be enable ICMP to roll out a comprehensive program to support Ukraine in locating upwards of 30,000 missing persons and investigating their disappearance. In the meantime, with Ukraine’s National Police, ICMP made progress towards finalizing a protocol to begin collecting data from tens of thousands of families of the missing.

“The protocol is a major step forward in setting up a comprehensive DNA-led system of identifying missing persons in Ukraine,” ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said. “It will be followed by a series of integrated initiatives to enhance Ukraine’s institutional and administrative framework to locate tens of thousands of missing persons cases in cooperation with civil society and families of the missing.”

ICMP Commissioners and senior staff held separate meetings during the week with the ambassadors of Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss next steps in ICMP’s program to help the authorities in both countries account for those who have gone missing during decades of conflict. Separate reports will be issued at the end of September assessing the scale of the issue and proposing steps to address it.

Discussions during the week with Iraq’s Deputy Foreign Minister of Political Planning Affairs, Dr Hisham Al-Allawi, explored the most effective ways of advancing a five-year, 12-point missing persons strategy that was agreed by senior Iraqi policymakers in September 2021 at a meeting in The Hague facilitated by ICMP.

On 21 June, ICMP signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Center for Judicial Expertise of Libya’s Ministry of Justice. The MoU will enable ICMP to help Libyan partners raise the standard of mass graves investigations, establish a centralized data system and enhance data privacy, strengthen forensic capacities, and support the role of families in the missing persons process.

At a meeting later the same day with Vietnam’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Viet Anh Pham, the Commissioners discussed next steps in implementing a major ICMP program to help the Vietnam Academy of Sciences develop Next Generation Sequencing technology to identify human remains from the conflict that ended nearly half a century ago.

The Commissioners then concluded their visit to The Hague with a briefing on next steps in extending ICMP assistance to Indigenous communities in Canada that have sought ICMP’ help in locating and identifying children missing from “Indian Residential Schools” during the 19th and 20th centuries.

 

About ICMP

ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization that seeks to ensure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration, and other causes, and to assist them in doing so. ICMP also supports the work of other organizations in their efforts, encourages public involvement in its activities and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tribute to the missing.