14 June 2007: The Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), Kathryne Bomberger, received the Legion of Honor on Wednesday evening in Sarajevo. The French Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Maryse Berniau, awarded the honor as “the proof of attention and recognition of the French Government for the work of Kathryne Bomberger in her mission and exceptional achievements of ICMP.”Based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, ICMP provides governments with political and technical assistance in addressing the issue of persons missing as the result of armed conflicts or other violations of human rights. ICMP provides forensic support in the fields of archeology and anthropology, and the use of high-throughput capacity DNA analysis in the identification of exhumed mortal remains.
At the reception, Ms. Bomberger thanked the Republic of France and highlighted the role of ICMP staff. “If this honor recognizes chivalry, then it is fitting that your efforts have resulted in this award,” she said.
In the former Yugoslavia, providing assistance from 1996, ICMP helped governments to address the needs of families seeking answers on the whereabouts of their missing. There are around 17,500 persons still missing following the conflicts in 1990’s, when it was estimated that over 40,000 have gone missing.
“In times of war there is a drive to “dehumanize” the enemy. ICMP’s work deals with the legacy of that tendency. And, it seeks to allow those who have been dehumanized to regain the dignity of being a person,” said Ms. Bomberger at the reception.
“The work is not about the past. It is about the present and the future and I believe that addressing the horrors of the past is essential to moving on,” said Bomberger.
ICMP also supports the development of networks of civil society organizations which advocate for truth, justice, and the rights of family members of missing persons. Additionally, two years ago, the organization was called to assist with the identification of victims of natural disasters such as the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.
ICMP’s success in developing an integrated scientific approach to addressing the problem of missing persons has made it a leader in advancing forensic sciences in the service of truth and justice. To date, ICMP has made over 12,000 DNA assisted identifications.