Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

The issue of giving a legal status to missing persons discussed at the UN

February 14, 2023

Publications | News

During the seventy-seventh session, the UN General Assembly held a discussion, and adopted a document on the rights of missing persons on 1 November 2022. 


The document addresses important issues which HCA Vanadzor has always raised in the context of protection of the rights of missing persons and their families, including in the justifications of the draft law on “Missing persons”. Those are mechanisms that will give missing persons an opportunity to get a legal status, and in addition, will also give their family members an opportunity to get social safeguards, solve their health problems, educational issues, and exercise their right to information.


HCAV also addressed those issues and presented recommendations in the report “The Situation of the Rights of Missing Persons and Their Family Members During the 44-day War in 2020”. 


The UN notes the issues of persons reported missing in connection with armed conflicts, who are victims of violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Issues of missing persons continue to have a negative impact on efforts to put an end to those conflicts and inflicts grievous suffering on the families of missing persons. The UN stresses in this regard the need to address the issue from, inter alia, a humanitarian and rule of law perspective, recognizing that it is critical for States to prevent, and in case it occurs, to investigate circumstances of disappearance, identify bodies, provide their families with information on the fate and whereabouts of the missing person, introduce proper mechanisms for administration of justice and compensation, including by establishing databases, information bureaus.  


In this document, the authors call upon States, inter alia, to take appropriate steps with regard to the legal situation of missing persons, and support their relatives, in particular, with respect to exercising their rights to social security, psychological support, financial, family and property rights.


For years, HCAV has been pursuing proper implementation of state obligations with respect to protecting the rights of missing persons and their families. For this purpose, more than 15 years ago, HCAV initiated the draft law on “Missing persons”, which, however, has not been adopted so far.

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