The Netherlands Supports ICMP Project to Review Missing Persons Process in South Caucasus Countries

The Hague, 16 March 2023: The Kingdom of the Netherlands will provide funding to the International Commission on Missing Person (ICMP) to conduct an assessment of the scope and situation of the missing persons issue in the South Caucasus related to the armed conflicts beginning in 1988 between Armenia and Azerbaijan and to issue a set of recommendations which would enhance the creation of a sustainable process of accounting for the missing in each country.

The assessment, which will be conducted in during 2023, will examine the engagement of relevant governmental and judicial institutions, legislative frameworks, scientific and technical capacities, the engagement of families of the missing, advocacy groups and other members of civil society, with an emphasis on female-led organizations, data collection and data analysis capacities, documentation of illicit gravesites, cooperative mechanisms and other measures.

“I visited Armenia in March 2022 and Azerbaijan in April 2022 at the invitation of the respective governments,” ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said today. “Assured of the political will of both countries to step up the efforts of their respective institutions to account for missing persons, as a first step we proposed to conduct an assessment of the scope of the missing persons issue in both countries. This proposal was accepted.”  “Our hope is to enhance concrete measures to find the missing, increase cooperation with families of the missing and enhance visibility of the process.  All of these measures are key to peace and stability.”

Dutch diplomats noted that the issue of missing persons is repeatedly raised by families and by civil society organizations in both countries, and the Netherlands believes that this assessment can prepare the way for practical work to begin on addressing this issue. It is of vital importance that families and friends find out what happened to their loved ones. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs underlined its full confidence in ICMP, which has its Headquarters in The Hague, and has the global expertise and experience to take this process forward.

According to international sources, almost 5,000 persons have gone missing since the start of the first Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The long-term objectives for each country could include to establish a secure Central Database on missing persons; to enhance and expedite efforts locate and excavate suspected illicit burial sites and other locations; to support human identification processes and family reunifications, through DNA testing and building domestic capacities; and to increase the capacity of competent authorities by transferring knowledge and expertise in human identification case management, data processing and outreach to families of the missing.


About ICMP

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 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.