11 September 2009: The International Commission on Missing Persons warmly welcomes Ms. Carolina Barco Isakson, current Ambassador of Colombia to the USA and former Foreign Minister of Colombia, as the new ICMP Commissioner. Ambassador Barco becomes the sixth of ICMP’s Commissioners, joining Her Majesty Queen Noor, the Rt. Hon Michael Portillo, Willem Kok, Ambassador Rolf Ekeus and James V. Kimsey. ICMP Commissioners advocate for the resolution of the issue of enforced disappearance and represent ICMP at the highest diplomatic and governmental levels worldwide.
“We are delighted to have Ambassador Carolina Barco become an ICMP Commissioner,” said Chairman James V.Kimsey. “As ICMP extends its support to countries in Latin America and Colombia specifically, we are extremely pleased to have someone of Carolina Barco’s caliber representing the goals and values of the ICMP, both in Colombia and worldwide.”
“I am honored that the ICMP has invited me to join them as a Commissioner. I have long been a supporter of the exceptional work of the organization, and now that ICMP has commenced assisting my country, it seems all the more appropriate that someone from Colombia joins the Commission,” said Ambassador Barco.
ICMP was established in 1996. Its primary role is to ensure the cooperation of governments in locating and identifying those who have disappeared during armed conflict or as a result of human rights violations. ICMP also supports the work of other organizations, encourages public involvement in its activities and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tribute to the missing. Apart from Colombia, ICMP also assists the governments of Iraq, Chile, the Philippines, Kuwait, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Kosovo.
There are over 33,000 confirmed cases of missing persons in Colombia which have occurred over the last 40 years, and it is officially estimated that there is an under-registration rate of 65%. Colombia has made significant efforts in recent years to find, identify and return the mortal remains of the disappeared to their families.
Since the establishment of its office in Colombia in October 2008, ICMP has been working closely with local counterparts to strengthen relevant institutions and legislation and to enhance Colombia’s forensic capacity. In November 2008 ICMP hosted a visit of all state institutions included in the search and identification process who, in continuation of the visit, expressed their interest in replicating in Colombia the mechanisms developed by ICMP. ICMP works closely with the Colombian Search Commission for Missing Persons on increasing the transparency of the search and identification process, as well as with the State Prosecutor’s Office and other judicial police institutions to address the issue of missing and disappeared persons.