Humanitarian law must be respected to ensure no one disappears in conflict: ICRC

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UNITED NATIONS, June 11 (Xinhua) -- The head of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Tuesday said that states and parties to armed conflict must respect and ensure international humanitarian law is respected in their operations to ensure no one disappears in armed conflict.

Speaking via video link at the Security Council briefing on missing persons in armed conflict, ICRC President Peter Maurer said, "They must uphold families' right to know; ensure civilians are protected, ensure no one 'disappears' in armed conflict as result of hostilities or after arrest; and to ensure systematic and dignified management of the dead."

Maurer said that ICRC calls on parties to conflict to enable ICRC to access detention facilities and facilitate family contact, which he said is an "important step" in preventing those detained from going missing.

The ICRC head also urged the parties to put in place preventative measures, adding that without early action, the work to account for missing people only redoubles, as does the suffering of families, and the future support required to address their needs.

"The issue of the missing must be first and foremost humanitarian and not part of political agendas and accountability processes," he said.

Maurer said that states and parties must address cases of missing persons without discrimination, as too often there is a political manipulation of this issue, or families of former enemies stigmatized or blocked from services.

As the ICRC's Central Tracing Agency prepares to mark 150 years of service next year, ICRC is modernizing its approaches, including investment in improved search technologies such as facial recognition, he said.

The ICRC is building a community of practice and through the Missing Persons Project it is reaching out to experts and practitioners, international and non-governmental organizations, state institutions and families to identify best practices, develop technical recommendations and coordinate its efforts, Maurer said.

UN Security Council on Tuesday called upon parties to armed conflict to "pay the utmost attention" to cases of children reported missing as a result of armed conflict.

The measures in a new resolution would compel all 193 members of the UN to cooperate and follow legally binding procedures to find those missing in war, possibly in coordination with ICRC. Enditem

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