The Missing: Action to resolve the problem of people unaccounted for as a result of armed conflict or internal violence and to assist their families. Study of existing mechanisms to clarify the fate of missing people. Report and recommendations.

ICRC/TheMissing/01.2003/EN/9 (Original: French)
Jean-François Rioux, Marco Sassòli
Publication Year
Thematic Area
The Search Process / Mechanisms / Forensics
Right to Know/Truth / Recovery of remains / Excavation / Exhumation / Psychosocial Support / Protecting/Restoring Family Links / Prevention / Information Management (Archive/Database/Register) / Identification / Family Needs
Open access

One major component of the project launched by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to improve the plight of persons who are unaccounted for as a result of a conflict is the study of existing mechanisms and their respective working methods. The term “mechanism” refers to the procedures and institutions used to meet the following main objectives: preventing disappearances, tracing missing persons and providing support to the families. Such mechanisms were discussed at a meeting of practitioners and experts held in Geneva in September 2002 and attended by us. The meeting examined reports submitted by many institutions and adopted numerous recommendations. This independent study of the topic was carried out at the request of the ICRC. It is the outcome of an association of our views on the issue, considered from the standpoints of political science and international law, and of the practical experience one of us had had within one of those mechanisms. The study is based on lessons drawn from the above meeting, on the reports presented to it – inter alia by one of us on the ICRC, national human rights committees and truth commissions – and on additional research carried out using public documents