Global Alliance for the Missing: Joint Statement at the Protection of Civilians Open Debate


Delivered by H.E. Mona Juul, Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations, on the occasion of the UN Security Council Open Debate on Protection of Civilians, 23 May 2023  

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Global Alliance for the Missing, a cross-regional group of States comprised of Argentina, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Croatia, Estonia, Kuwait, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, and Switzerland. This group was created in 2021 to focus attention on missing persons - a global humanitarian and human rights tragedy - and to promote the implementation of relevant obligations and commitments.

This year’s PoC report highlights how vast numbers of people have gone missing last year due to armed conflict, continuing the worrying trend of previous years and decades. It also spotlights initiatives to prevent and address their fate. The Global Alliance welcomes the report’s recommendation to “put in place legal, policy and institutional frameworks which account for protected persons…and ensure the effective search for and identification of missing persons and the proper management of the dead”.

However, there is no doubt that the ever-increasing numbers of missing persons far outpace efforts to address them. Many members of the Global Alliance know first-hand about the challenges in providing answers to families of the missing – some of whom have been waiting for decades. This requires political will, access to information, including archives, as well as resources and expertise.

Four years ago, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2474 on missing persons in armed conflict. The resolution outlines measures to prevent and address the issue and reaffirms critical international humanitarian law obligations, such as provided for in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols of 1977. Notwithstanding this important achievement, the fate of missing persons and their families’ needs remains all too often ignored, with potential long-term consequences for sustainable peace. Greater efforts by the United Nations and its Members States to implement Resolution 2474 are therefore needed.

As the Global Alliance, we intend to highlight key areas where progress can and should be made, for example on the link between missing persons and peace processes, or on the creation of national mechanisms to determine fate and whereabouts.

Addressing the issue of missing persons is an essential element of international humanitarian law. Global Alliance Members stand ready to share their experience and to work with others towards a more effective response at global, regional and national levels.

I thank you Mr. President.