15 July 2003: The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, based in Michigan, has approved a grant of US$ 150,000 to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Civil Society Initiatives department for its work supporting Associations of Families of Missing Persons in the former Yugoslavia.ICMP believes that family members of the missing are central to its work and that family associations play a critical role in addressing the missing persons issue through advocacy, education, data collection and raising public awareness. ICMP works with all ethnic/religious groups seeking missing loved ones resulting from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, 1991 to 1995 and 1998 to 1999. Recently, activities have been expanded to include work in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Associations of Families of Missing Persons in the former Yugoslavia have taken on important tasks of addressing their own and their members’ personal tragedies, but they also have the potential to be actively engaged in society as catalysts of change and in taking steps towards healing the wounds of the conflicts in the region. Empowering these groups and their members to make peace with the past and to advocate for a better life in the present, provides an example for society as a whole.
Greater cooperation between different religious/national groups on common issues contributes to a more stable peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the former Yugoslavia. A series of workshops and grants, to support local multi-ethnic initiatives, will be implemented in the coming year.
“Family members of the missing have a strong need to know the truth about what happened to their loved ones, and a deep desire for justice. With truth and justice, and opening a space for inter-group dialogue on painful topics of the past, a path to future reconciliation can be paved. Many positive steps have been taken, which must be strengthened and developed,” stated Asta Zinbo, Director of ICMP Civil Society Initiatives.
This generous donation is the first that ICMP has received from a private foundation. Charles Stewart Mott started his Foundation in 1926 because of a deep concern over public welfare in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. From there it has grown into an international philanthropic organization with programs in many parts of the world. In Eastern and Central Europe the specific objectives are strengthening the nonprofit sector, promoting citizen rights and responsibilities and improving inter-ethnic relations.
Walter Veirs, of the Mott Foundation, explained:
“This project builds on the good work that ICMP has done to strengthen and support Associations of Families of Missing Persons across the former Yugoslavia and will further draw this important segment of the nonprofit sector into broader peacebuilding and development initiatives. In this sense, it is an exciting partnership between ICMP and Mott.”