1 November 2013: Concluding a conference hosted by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. Frans Timmermans stated, “I am calling for ICMP to be transformed into a modern small and flexible organization established with formal legal status under International Law that allows it to operate worldwide.” He went on to say “I call upon national governments to support our efforts to make it easier for this organization to operate around the world”.
In his speech, Mr. Timmermans noted the successful 17-year history of the organization whose work includes assisting governments in searching for missing persons from war, human rights abuses, disasters, organized violence, migration and other causes. However, he also noted that the organization’s work would be significantly strengthened through the formal backing of the international community, so that it can continue to conduct its unique and complex work to assist governments in resolving missing persons cases.
On behalf of the ICMP, Ambassador Vollebæk stated, “The Netherlands’ initiative underscores that the right to justice and the right to an effective investigation are guarantees expected of States”.
The Commissioners of the ICMP, including its Chairman, Ambassador Thomas Miller, Her Majesty Queen Noor, Mr Wim Kok, Ambassador Rolf Ekéus, Ambassador Carolina Barco and Ambassador Knut Vollebæk whole-heartedly thanked Foreign Minister Timmermans for leading this initiative.
Speaking on behalf of the Government of the United Kingdom, Mr. Alistair Burt MP said, “For the ICMP to develop its work effectively worldwide it needs to secure an appropriate international legal status to protect its staff and data. The Government of The Netherlands is leading a process to help bring this about, and this has the full and strong support of the British Government.”
As Ambassador Thomas Miller noted following the conference, “There is growing recognition within the international community that the issue of missing persons is a global concern that affects millions of persons from armed conflict and human rights abuses, including forcibly disappeared persons. Thousands of persons go missing every year from human trafficking, drug related violence, migration, displacement and other involuntary reasons. The world needs a global mechanism that has the strength and backing of the international community to successfully address this painful issue,” he said. “We are very encouraged by the support of the Government of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom and we look forward to other governments joining them soon,” he added.