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ICRC calls for more action regarding missing persons

10-01-2003 News Release 03/04

The ICRC has called on governments to take strong action to prevent people from going missing as a result of armed conflict and internal violence.

In a statement to the UN “working group on a draft legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances” currently meeting in Geneva, the ICRC deplored the fact that governments and parties to conflict often lack the political will to prevent disappearances and support efforts to clarify what has become of persons unaccounted for. In its statement, the ICRC also supported the idea of developing additional binding rules to tackle the problem of disappearances.

Addressing the working group, the ICRC emphasized that uncertainty about the fate of loved ones missing because of armed conflict is a harsh reality for countless families around the world. It stressed that, in addition to the tragic consequences for individual families, the unresolved fate of missing persons can continue to undermine relations between groups and nations even decades after the disappearances occur.

The ICRC also announced that it was organizing an international conference of governmental and non-governmental experts on the problem of persons unaccounted for during armed conflict or internal violence, which will convene in Geneva between 19 and 21 February 2003. The conference aims at reaffirming and enhancing international law protecting the missing and their families as well as developing operational “best practices” for governments and non-governmental bodies involved with the problem.

 For more information, please contact  

 Florian Westphal, tel. ++41 22 730 29 30,  

 Antonella Notari, tel. ++41 22 730 22 82