28 September 2020: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has awarded 19 small grants with a combined worth of more than 70,000 euro to associations and organizations of families of missing persons and civil society organizations from the Western Balkans to support their participation in efforts to ensure the responsibility of the regional governments in accounting for those who remain missing from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
The grants, financed by the European Union, will support projects conducted by organizations of families of missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia over a 12-month period.
“With the EU’s financial and political support, ICMP will continue to help families of the missing to be engaged in the missing persons process and to advocate for securing their rights to justice, truth and reparations,” said the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, Matthew Holiday. “Funds from the EU and other donors have enabled ICMP to help authorities in the Western Balkans to account for over 70 percent the 40,000 persons missing from the conflicts. We hope that these grants will help families of the missing continue their unified efforts to ensure that the rights of families of the missing are secured, regardless of the ethnic, religious or national background of the missing person.”
The recipients will use the grants to:
- Promote and support the active, independent, meaningful and sustainable engagement and participation of families of missing persons in the process;
- Contribute to securing justice and providing redress to victims and survivors;
- Generate cooperation among survivor groups across political, ethnic, religious or other lines and promote impartial and non-discriminatory approaches to the issue of the missing; and
- Advance accountability and transparency in the processes of locating missing persons by promoting dialogue and collaboration of survivor and victim groups with State authorities on the issue of the missing.
ICMP’s Western Balkan program supports regional cooperation in the search for the missing, including cooperation among civil society organizations, such as the Regional Coordination of associations of families of missing from former Yugoslavia, governments and local authorities. ICMP facilitates the operations of the Missing Persons Group, which comprises domestic institutions for missing persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia. This multilateral mechanism to resolve missing persons cases was an outcome of the fifth Berlin Process summit, held 2018 in London, during which 16 EU and Western Balkan states recalled the ICMP Declaration on the responsibility of states to account for missing persons in a manner that is commensurate with human rights and the rule of law.
ICMP pioneered the application of state-of-the-art DNA and advanced database informatics to support countries in locating and identifying large numbers of missing persons. This has so far enabled more than 70 percent of the estimated 40,000 persons reported missing at the end of the conflicts in the Western Balkans to be accounted for.
The grants to organizations and associations in the Western Balkans are part of the EU-funded action Strengthening Regional Cooperation in the Western Balkans to Resolve Missing Persons Cases from Conflicts of the 1990s.
ICMP is a treaty-based international organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.