The key role of the national information bureau (NIB) is to account for protected persons in the hands of the enemy, prevent them from going missing, and inform families of their fate and whereabouts. The Geneva Conventions do not prescribe in detail how a NIB should be organized. What matters is that it can receive and transmit information, enabling identification of persons and rapid notification of families - and that it can do so effectively. Necessary measures such as establishing clear procedures for the creation and functioning of the NIB should be taken in peacetime so that it can begin operating as soon as possible after an international armed conflict starts.
Obligations specific to NIBs, and those related to the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Central Tracing Agency (CTA), are part of a wider framework of international humanitarian law rules relevant for the separated, missing, and dead.