5th Regional Cooperation Meeting on Missing Persons’ Issue held in Sarajevo

6 March 2009: A 5th meeting on regional cooperation between governments concerning the issue of persons missing from the armed conflicts of the 1990’s was hosted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the  International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Sarajevo. 

The meeting included representatives from the Missing Persons Institute of BiH (MPI), the Ministry of Family, Veteran’s Affairs and Inter-generational Solidarity from the Republic of Croatia, the Commission on Missing Persons of the Government of Republic of Serbia, and the BiH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees. The aim of the meeting was to discuss issues relevant to missing persons from the armed conflicts that occurred between 1991 and 1995, including the process of locating, recovering and identifying missing persons and planning future regional activities.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Missing Persons Institute of BiH stressed to bilateral partners that the MPI has achieved excellent results last year and that in cooperation with the ICMP, which is the co-founder of the Missing Persons Institute, there were approximately 1,000 persons identified in the course of the last year. The ICRC underlined its continued support to the MPI and the process of searching for the missing in the region and the representative from the BiH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees pledged to expedite the implementation of the Law on Missing Persons and the Fund for Family Associations.  The Government of Serbia has also formed a working group to review legislation relevant to the missing issues.

The importance of signing bilateral agreements between BIH and regional States in order to formalise current cooperation was stressed. Conference delegates were unanimously in agreement that these will encourage relevant best practice and help improve the regional flow of information. As part of this regional cooperation, Croatia, Serbia and BiH continue to participate in exhumations and in identifications on cases of joint interest.

The conclusions of the meeting included, support for an initiative of the Croatian government’s Vice-President Jadranka Kosor to organize a regional meeting on missing persons at an inter-ministerial level; to study the creation of a central regional list of missing persons and support for an ICMP initiative to form a regional working group to review cases of mutual interest regarding DNA-assisted identifications.

The ICRC and ICMP have co-chaired the Regional Cooperation Meetings since 2006, with the aim to facilitate dialogue and cooperation on the issue of missing persons between governments. The meetings are called to assess the results and exchange information on activities between the representatives of the national expert bodies in the region and the international organizations on various aspects of the missing issue.