Int’l Missing Persons HQ headed to The Hague

ICMP hq the Hague
Director Kathryne Bomberger and Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders sign an agreement to bring the International Commission for Missing Persons headquarters to the Hague (photo: Rijksoverheid). Director Kathryne Bomberger and Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders sign an agreement to bring the International Commission for Missing Persons headquarters to the Hague (photo: Rijksoverheid)

Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders signed an agreement on Monday to establish the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague. The organization was first proposed in 1996 by U.S. President Bill Clinton at the G7 summit that year, and it was first tasked with trying to account for 40,000 missing people after war the early 1990s war in the former Yugoslavia.

“The current migration crisis reminds us again of the importance of the work of ICMP,” Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders said at the signing of the agreement. “Among the millions of refugees and migrants fleeing conflict or persecution, thousands go missing and among them are many vulnerable groups, including children.”

Bringing the organization to the Netherlands started with the work of previous Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans, now the First Vice President of the European Commission The cabinet is also pleased the organization is to bring its headquarters to the Hague. A suitable permanent location has not been found there yet.

The organization employs 140 people, and already works with the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI). With its permanent office, the ICMP plans to build its own laboratory for DNA testing. The group’s website mentions their use of technological and method innovation for DNA testing, and the use of forensic archaeology and forensic anthropology in making identifications. They also maintain their own missing persons database.

This has led the group to expand its work from military conflict to civil war and natural disasters.

“The support of the Dutch Government has been instrumental in the development of ICMP and underscores the need for all governments to address a problem that affects every country in the world,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger, adding pleasantries to the Hague for the city’s support. “As ICMP moves its headquarters to the international city of peace and justice, we intend to augment our efforts to work with other organizations, including on initiatives to address the issue of missing migrants.”

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