Conference statement: International Conference on Enforced Disappearances
International Conference on Enforced Disappearances
Geneva, Switzerland, 7-9 November 2011
Organizations of Families from Various Continents
and International NGOs
Gather on the First Meeting of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances
and on the 95th Session of the UN WGEID
We, members and supporters of the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) from Africa, Asia, Euro-Asia, Euro-Mediterranean Region, Latin America, North America convened for the first time at the seat of the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Switzerland on the occasion of the first meeting of the newly established UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED). The CED is the body of independent experts which monitors the implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (The Convention) by the States Parties.
Our gathering, which we considered a high level of solidarity, was also intended to coincide with the 95th session of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UN WGEID), which, in its 30 years of working for the clarification of the whereabouts of the disappeared, has supported and continues to support our work.
This historic gathering of the members of the Coalition has provided us with a venue to update ourselves on the phenomenon of enforced disappearance in our respective countries and our common campaign for signatures to and ratifications of the Convention. This is an integral part of the search for truth and justice and of our struggle against impunity. A very important component of the conference was the re-launching of the program Linking Solidarity through the process of conducting a participatory research on Learning History.
Coming all the way from our respective countries, we share the still on-going and unresolved cases of enforced disappearances. The presentations made us reconfirm that in most of our countries, the heinous crime of enforced disappearance remains unresolved and worse still, persists with each passing day. The multiple violations of the rights wreak immeasurable pain and anxiety to both the disappeared and their surviving families and relatives.
The ICAED laments the resurgence of enforced disappearances across the globe. It expresses deep and special concern on the situation of enforced disappearance in Africa as the number of enforced disappearances throughout the continent remains of high concern. Under-reporting continues to be a problem and associations of relatives of disappeared people are targets of harassment, threats and attacks. The ongoing monitoring of the WGEID and of the CED is therefore of the utmost importance.
The Convention, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 December 2006 and had entered into force on 23 December 2010 is a sign of recognition by the United Nations of the global magnitude of the crime. It is a major victory of the associations and federations of families of the disappeared whose real-life experiences of the consequences of enforced disappearance have been fundamental bases of many of its provisions. To date, the treaty has 90 signatories and 30 States Parties. Considering the global magnitude of enforced disappearances, much remains to be done in attaining universal implementation of the Convention.
Thus, the Conference deemed it important to chart its plan of action both for internal consolidation and expansion as well as for carrying out its mandate of campaigning for as many signatures and ratifications of the Convention as possible.
To make its international presence visible, the ICAED conducted a side event, entitled: “Universal Implementation of the International Convention Against Enforced Disappearances: A Task and a Challenge.” The Chairpersons of both the UN WGEID and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) spoke on the imperative of cooperation between the two bodies and their cooperation with members of civil society. The presence of the Argentinian government in the panel, whose commendable efforts to ensure the Convention’s implementation, is a source of inspiration.
At this juncture, the ICAED expresses its appreciation for the establishment of the Committee on Enforced Disappearance (CED) and calls on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure that this new monitoring body is provided with adequate resources and staffing support to carry out its functions in the most effective way. At the same time, the ICAED stresses the importance to continue maintaining an effective WGEID, fully staffed and with sufficient resources as well. The ICAED believes that the WGEID and the CED have to work in a coordinated manner.
The ICAED emphasizes the importance of both UN bodies. The ICAED, thus calls on all States to cooperate with and to provide their support to the WGEID as well as to the new CED.
In as much as the ICAED calls for the support of both the WGEID and the CED, it expresses its willingness to contribute its wealth of expertise to the forthcoming exercises concerning the implementation of the Convention as well as the establishment of the jurisprudence of the CED. It likewise urges both bodies to have an open consultative process including civil society, in particular, families’ organizations for the development of their rules of procedure and working methods.
The ICAED expresses the crucial importance of States to seriously engage in the fight against impunity and enforce by all means their obligation to investigate, prosecute and sanction those responsible for enforced disappearance and serious international crimes.
The ICAED calls on all States to ratify and fully implement the Convention and to recognize the competence of the CED pursuant to Articles 31 and 32 of the Convention and which are systematically included among the criteria applied by the Universal Periodic Review. It further calls on all States to adopt domestic legislation to criminalize the autonomous offense of enforced disappearance and to ensure the prevention and punishment of this practice. Corollary to this, the ICAED recommends that States take into consideration the Amnesty International (AI) publication, “No Impunity for Enforced Disappearance: Checklist for the Effective Implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance” in the drafting of relevant national legislation.
Finally, the ICAED underscores the continuing crime of enforced disappearance for it continues to violate the rights of the victims and to inflict endless sufferings on their families and relatives. Thus, sustainability of our efforts is deemed important as the theme of this International Conference states: “Linking Our Solidarity; Strengthen Our Unity; Renew Our Commitment Towards the Ratification of the International Treaty Against Enforced Disappearances.”
Participating Organizations to the ICAED International Conference on Enforced Disappearances
November 7-9, 2011 Geneva Switzerland
Asian Federation Against Enforced Disappearances (AFAD)
Al-Ata’a for Human Rights Support-Iraq
Asamblea Permante por los Derechos Humanos – Argentina
Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos, Ejecuciones Extrajudiciales y Torturados Huancayo-Junín (AFDDEET) -Peru
Association de Parents et Amis de Disparus au Maroc
Asociación Pro-Búsqueda de Niñas y Niños Desaparecidos de El Salvador
Asociación para la Recuperacion de la Memoria Historia de Catalunya (ARMHC)
Breaking the Wall of Silence-Namibia
Centro de los Derechos Humanos y Talleres Productivos Qatari Panituri-Peru
Colegio de Abogados – Peru
Collectif des Families De Disparus en Algerie
Comision de Derechos Humanos (COMISEDH)-Peru
Comité de Coordination des Familles des Disparus au Maroc (CCFDM)- Morocco
Equipo Peruano de Antropologia Forense – Peru
Federation Internationale de l’ACAT (FIACAT)
Federation Internationale des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH)
Fédération Euroméditérannéenne Contre Les Disparitions forcées (FEMED)
Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos (FEDEFAM)
Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)
Human Rights Watch
International Commission of Jurists
Jardin des Disparus
Liga Guatemalteca de Higiene Mental – Guatemala
Russian Justice Initiative
Track Impunity Always
Torture Abolition and Support Coalition
Civil Initiative We Remember -Belarus
Zimbabwe Peace Project