This article examines the different types of mechanisms which can contribute to addressing the issue of the missing, including providing answers on the fate and whereabouts of missing persons. It looks in detail at one approach that the authors have observed in the field. It argues that an approach based on humanitarian objectives which does not look into who is responsible for the disappearance, with proper management of confidential information, could be a powerful instrument for searching for and collecting relevant information on the missing in certain contexts. The article also proposes avenues for further research, with a view to enhancing the global capacity to provide meaningful answers for the missing and their families.
The authors look at the ways in which transitional justice mechanisms may support the right of families to know the fate of their relatives, and how work to resolve the missing persons issue can be reconciled with an effective fight against impunity.