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 offices. In 2021 ICMP launched a USAID-funded project to help the authorities in Vietnam account for missing persons from the three decades of conflict after World War Two.
In December 2022, US Senator Patrick Leahy, who has been a champion of efforts to account for all persons missing from the conflict in Vietnam, noted that “none of the war legacy initiatives that have played such a central role in building a comprehensive partnership between the US and Vietnam would have progressed as they have without Thao’s constant encouragement and thoughtful advice . . . For the past decade and a half, Thao has, more than anyone else, helped to smooth the way for the leaders of both governments to keep striving to deepen and expand our relations by overcoming distrust, bureaucratic obstacles, and cultural differences. Her efforts have had a profound and lasting impact on our relations, our mutual understanding, and on the lives of the Vietnamese and American people.”
“I am honored to join the ICMP Board of Commissioners,” Thao Griffiths said today, “Accounting for those who went missing during Vietnam’s long years of conflict remains – even after the passage of decades – a central element in the country’s recovery and development. Accounting for large numbers of missing persons is a challenge faced by governments and families of the missing around the world. It will be my privilege to work with the other ICMP Commissioners to help governments meet this challenge in an effective way.”
ICMP’s Vietnam Project aims to improve the ability of Vietnamese institutions to deliver DNA-based identifications. The project supports the development of a centralized data system, civil society engagement, collection of genetic family reference samples and collection, recovery and forensic examination of mortal remains. ICMP is working in concert with Vietnamese government partners to adapt proven methods of DNA extraction to the Vietnamese context and establish a foundation for the use and implementation of Next Generation DNA Sequencing technologies. The use of NGS will improve the ability to extract DNA from older, challenging samples and allow for intergenerational kinship matching between distant relatives. The project also aims to advance NGS for high-volume work.
ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.