Missing Persons Project Workshop July 2019 - Sarajevo

Key findings on supporting and strengthening work with relatives of missing persons

More than 80 representatives of family organizations and experts from 31 countries gathered in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on 2 and 3 of July 2019 at the workshop organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in cooperation with the Grupó de Acción Comunitaria (GAC).
Article 19 January 2021 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Participants explored the ways of supporting and strengthening the work with relatives of missing persons and identifying best practices, later presented in a report issued by the ICRC summarizing key findings and conclusions.

This unique opportunity to exchange global experiences of searching for the missing included discussions about gaps in the current standards, commonalities, and differences in the needs of families of missing persons, impact of the passing of time on the needs of families, and specific vulnerabilities.

Despite many differences in experiences of participants, there was an exceptional sense of solidarity among the families of the missing, regardless of where and how their relatives had disappeared.

We are making history together. We are starting a global network of missing people from all over the world, joining our hands, we are getting the word out: all the missing sons and daughters deserve to come back home, alive or dead.

- Lucía Díaz, Colectivo Solecito de Veracruz, 3 July 2019   

Among other matters, the key findings show a need for ways of better protecting migrants and victims of natural disasters and armed violence to be considered. These groups, who are often not sufficiently covered by existing International Law on Human Rights (IHRL) protection, have specific vulnerabilities that are not properly addressed. The existing standards for the search of missing persons, technical recommendations, and guidance must be better promoted.

MPP workshop, 2-3 July 2019, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Families' right to be fully involved from the beginning and throughout the search process, regardless of circumstances, must be respected, and families' practical experience should guide the development of appropriate tools. They need quicker, earlier action and support as soon as the person goes missing, and acknowledgment of needs of the families of missing beyond a generation. Disappearances have a long-term impact on societies and should be a priority for conflict prevention.

The report is the first step in the process of drafting and disseminating concrete technical recommendations on the topics, created in close consultation with the broader community of practice within the ICRC global Missing Persons Project (MPP).

You can read more in the final version of the report published in Bosnian and English.