The international commission on missing persons (icmp) and the application of forensic archaeology and anthropology to identifying the missing
Authors: Hanson, I., Holliday, M., Sullivan, K., Bomberger, K. and Parsons, T.
The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) endeavors to secure the cooperation of governments and other authorities in locating and identifying persons missing as a result of conflicts, human rights abuses, disasters, organized violence, and other causes and to assist them in doing so. The ICMP also supports the work of other government and nongovernment organizations in their efforts, encourages public involvement in its activities, and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration of and tribute to the Missing. The ICMP was created at the initiative of U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1996 at the G-7 Summit in Lyon, France. The Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the fighting in the former Yugoslavia, was in its first year of implementation, and the ICMP’s initial mandate was to help to account for the approximately 40, 000 persons reported missing as a result of the fighting from 1991 to 1995. While the ICMP is focused on developing and applying political and rule-of-law-based strategies to address the issue of the Missing in different societies and situations around the world, it also brings a unique element of technical assistance to its set of activities. As a consequence of the ICMP’s success in the former Yugoslavia, and with the financial support of a growing number of donor governments, in 2003 the ICMP’s mandate and sphere of activity were extended by supporting governments to address the global issue of missing persons, including cases arising from natural disasters. On December 15, 2014, a Framework Agreement was signed granting the ICMP a new legal status. The Agreement constituted the ICMP as a treaty-based international organization with its own system of governance and international capacities. The ICMP has played a leading role in supporting countries emerging from conflict or from large-scale disasters. (It is increasingly the norm for domestic stakeholders to assume ownership of the missing person’s process.) In addition, more cases are being properly investigated and more perpetrators are being held to account; civil society is actively engaged, and modern forensic methods, including DNA analysis and the effective search and recovery of the Missing, are being used. These changes in turn have had a significant bearing on criminal justice, on strengthening the rule of law, and on efforts to make sure that relatives of the Missing can assert their right to know the fate of loved ones and have the means to seek justice and reparations.1.