International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) marks the annual International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30, 2017.  First observed in 2011, this annual commemoration was established by the UN General Assembly through  Resolution 65/209, which was adopted in December of 2006. The resolution provided for the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.


As defined by the International Convention, Enforced Disappearances involve:

…the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) maintains the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Convention. The Committee most recently met in March of 2017 for its twelfth session, the report of which is available here. The OHCHR has also produced a detailed Fact Sheet on enforced disappearances, which can be found here. In the spirit of commemoration for the International Day of Victims, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances issued a joint statement, which can be found here.

On the occasion of the 2016 observance of the International Day, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the responsibility of States in working to attain justice for all victims of this crime, including the families of those who have been disappeared, explaining that:

The classic image of a victim of enforced disappearance is that of a person being deprived of liberty, taken to a secret place of detention, and being kept there without any further contact with the outside world. Yet victims of enforced disappearances are also the parents, children, partners or friends of those who have disappeared; anguished women and men desperately seeking any information, even if only a clue, that will lead them to their loved ones.

Today, August 30, 2017, the Auschwitz Institute joins with the United Nations and its partners around the world working to prevent future occurrences of this horrific crime and to obtain justice for victims as well as their families and loved ones. AIPR reaffirms its commitment to the development and promotion of durable norms and legal standards that prevent enforced disappearances and other forms of mass atrocity. The Director of AIPR’s Latin American Program, Eugenia Carbone, explains:

AIPR expresses its concern related to the fact that forced, enforced, and involuntary disappearances continue to hit our societies. Now, even more so than in years past, the Auschwitz Institute urges all States to ratify and implement the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and to use it as an effective tool in the fight against impunity and towards guaranteeing peace and stability for all.