24/02/2018 The Special Procedures

Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances was established by resolution 20 (XXXVI) of 29 February 1980 by the Commission on Human Rights which decided to “establish for a period of one year a working group consisting of five of its members, to serve as experts in their individual capacities, to examine questions relevant to enforced or involuntary disappearances of persons”.


Mr. Bernard Duhaime
(Canada), Chair-Rapporteur,
appointed in 2014

Mr. Tae-Ung Baik
(Republic of Korea), Vice-Chairperson,
appointed in 2015

Ms Houria Es-Slami
appointed in 2014

Mr. Henrikas Mickevičius
appointed in 2015

Mr. Luciano A. Hazan
appointed in 2017

The duties of the group’s mandate includes:

One of the Working Group’s primary task is to assist families in determining the fate or whereabouts of their family members who are reportedly disappeared. In that humanitarian capacity, the Working Group serves as a channel of communication between family members of victims of enforced disappearance and other sources reporting cases of disappearances, and the Governments concerned. For this purpose the Group receives, examines and transmits to Governments reports of enforced disappearances submitted by relatives of disappeared persons or human rights organizations acting on their behalf. The Working Group request Governments to carry out investigations and to inform the Working Group of the results. The Working Group follows up those requests of information on a periodic basis. Those cases remain open in the Working Group’s database until the fate or whereabouts of the person is determined.

With the adoption by the General Assembly in 1992 of the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances, the Working Group was also entrusted with monitoring the progress of States in fulfilling their obligations deriving from the Declaration and to provide to Governments assistance in its implementation. The Working Group draws the attention of Governments and non-governmental organizations to different aspects of the Declaration and recommends ways of overcoming obstacles to the realization of its provisions. In this capacity, the Working Group has a preventive role, by assisting States in overcoming obstacles to the realization of the Declaration. This is done both while carrying out country visits and by providing advisory services, when requested.

On 23 December 2010, the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances entered into force and with it the Committee on Enforced Disappearances was established. Like for a number of other thematic human rights issues, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances coexist side by side and seek to collaborate and coordinate their activities with a view to strengthen the joint efforts to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances.

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