ICRC appoints a special representative for the International Tracing Service
26-04-2006 News Release 06/35
Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has appointed Toni Pfanner to the newly created post of special representative for the International Tracing Service (ITS). His role will be to promote the opening of the ITS archives for the purpose of historical research.
Toni Pfanner was born in Switzerland in 1953. He holds a doctorate in economics (University of St. Gallen) and a masters degree in law (University of Bern).
He began his professional career as assistant professor of property law at the Federal Polytechnic School in Zürich and worked in a law office. In 1984 he joined the ICRC and was active as delegate and head of delegation in Israel and the occupied territories, Iraq, Chad, South Africa, Afghanistan and in the regional delegation for Sout-East Asia in Jakarta.
From 1993 to 1998, he was head of the legal division at ICRC headquarters, taught in several universities and published numerous articles on international humanitarian law. Since 2002, he has been editor-in-chief of the International Review of the Red Cross.
The ITS, which derives its mandate from the Bonn Agreements of 6 June 1955, works in behalf of former victims of Nazi persecution, including Holocaust victims. It is run by the ICRC, under a mandate entrusted to the organization by States, and is based in Bad Arolsen, Germany.
This appointment took place in advance of the forthcoming meeting, on 16 May in Luxembourg, of the International Commission for the ITS, which supervises ITS activities. At this meeting, the Commission's 11 member States (Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States) will have to decide on the procedures for opening the archives to historical researchers.
" The ICRC fully supports the idea of opening the archives for research purposes, " said Toni Pfanner. " There is also an important humanitarian aspect to this issue. Discussions have lasted too long and we urge the member States of the International Commission meeting in Luxembourg next month to take the necessary steps to open the archives. "
The ITS archives concern civilians detained in Nazi concentration or labour camps and people who had to flee their homes because of the Second World War. They house over 50 million card files relating to more than 17.5 million civilians persecuted by the Nazis.
Since its creation, the ITS has given more than 11 million replies to enquiries from former victims or their families, 226,535 of which were provided in 2005 alone. Between 2002 and 2004, the ITS issued more than 950,000 certificates to enable people subjected to forced labour to obtain compensation.
For further information, please contact:
Antonella Notari, ICRC Geneva, tel. : +41 22 730 22 82 or +41 79 217 32 80 (mobile),
ITS or the website of the