ICMP, Stakeholders in the missing persons process and families of the missing in the Western Balkans Prepare for London Summit in July

At the meeting it was agreed to form a coordination mechanism that will bring together the MPI and GCMPs to be responsible for implementing the regional plan

Podgorica, 26 May 2018: Stakeholders in the missing persons process across the Western Balkans met in Podgorica from 23 May to 26 May 2018 to prepare for an upcoming summit in London that will address key challenges facing the region, including how to address the issue of the 12,000 persons who are still missing from the conflicts of the 1990s. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Republic of Croatia which, as a full member of the European Union, supports the Berlin Process.

On 9/10 July, the United Kingdom will host the 5th Berlin Process Western Balkans Summit. Among other issues, the UK has indicated that making progress on the issue of missing persons will be a priority.

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and representatives of state bodies responsible for the issue of missing persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo[1] and Serbia discussed key issues for continuing the process of searching and identifying missing persons in the region.

Regional Coordination of families of the missing and the ICMP, in a separate meeting highlighted the exchange of information on potential locations of clandestine gravesites between states, speeding up the process of excavating such gravesites, and resolving the approximately 4,000 NN (unidentified) cases and possible miss-identifications that occurred prior to the introduction of the DNA analysis in the identification process, as well as harmonizing records within the  Database of active cases of persons missing due to conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, as priority topics to be initiated at the London Summit.

Stakeholders in the missing persons process  agreed on the components that will outline key activities to tackle the issue of the 12,000 persons who are still missing, with the intention of submitting it for adoption to the regional heads of government at the London Summit.

At the meeting it was agreed to form a coordination mechanism that will bring together the MPI and GCMPs to be responsible for implementing the regional plan. ICMP will offer practical and political support to this mechanism.

ICMP believes the adoption of the regional plan at the July Summit, together with the formation of the mechanism will set in place a sound structure for accelerating and intensifying efforts to investigate missing persons cases impartially and effectively, and in accordance with international human rights standards.

This week’s meetings in Podgorica were made possible through financial assistance from the United Kingdom.

[1] This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence