COMMITTEE ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES

Background to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) was adopted by General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/177 in December 2006 and came into force on 23 December 2010. Countries that ratify the Convention agree to be legally bound by it and are called State parties.

How does it protect people?

In short, the Convention includes terms that:

  • Provide that no one shall be subject to enforced disappearance without exception, even in time of war or other public emergency
  • Oblige States parties to criminalize enforced disappearance and make it a punishable offence
  • Provide that enforced disappearance constitutes a crime against humanity when practiced in a widespread or systematic manner
  • Oblige States to search for disappeared persons, investigate their disappearance, and provide victims with access to justice and reparation
  • Oblige States to afford one another the greatest measure of mutual legal assistance and cooperation for the search and investigation
  • Prohibit secret detention
  • Oblige State parties to guarantee minimum legal standards around the deprivation of liberty, such as maintaining official registers of persons deprived of liberty with minimum of information and authorizing them to communicate with their family, counsel, or any other person of their choice.

Read the full text of the convention here.

Background to the Convention

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) is the first universally legally binding human rights instrument concerning enforced disappearance. It was preceded by the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (1992 Declaration), proclaimed by the General Assembly in its Resolution 47/133 of 18 December 1992, which remains a valid reference as a body of principles for all States and some of its provisions reflect customary international law on the subject.

The adoption of the ICPPED was prompted by the tireless advocacy of families of disappeared persons and NGOs from across the world, which emphasized the pressing need for a universal treaty to effectively prevent and eradicate this heinous practice.

Indeed, the existence of relevant gaps in the international legal framework for the protection from enforced disappearance was confirmed in 2001 by the independent expert appointed by the Commission on Human Rights to examine the available legal tools and assess their effectiveness and completeness. The independent expert outlined several gaps in the international legal framework, including the lack of recognition of a specific human right not to be subjected to enforced disappearance; the absence of a legally binding universal obligation on the applicability of universal jurisdiction; and many loopholes regarding measures of prevention. The expert held that these gaps clearly indicated the need for a legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance.

Following the report of the independent expert, in 2003, the Commission on Human Rights decided to draw up such a treaty. The negotiation process lasted three years and the ICPPED was eventually adopted in 2006, entering into force in 2010.

Relevant reports of the Intersessional Open-ended Working Group are available below:

  • 2006 Report of the Intersessional Open-ended Working Group to elaborate a draft legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance - E/CN.4/2006/57
  • 2005 Report of the Intersessional Open-ended Working Group to elaborate a draft legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance - E/CN.4/2005/66
  • 2004 Report of the intersessional open-ended working group to elaborate a draft legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance - E/CN.4/2004/59
  • 2003 Report of the intersessional open-ended working group to elaborate a draft legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance - E/CN.4/2003/71
Stand Up for the victims of enforced disappearance

Stand up for the victims of enforced disappearance: Time to ratify the Convention! 

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