The UN adopts a resolution on enforced disappearances [fr]

The 3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly adopted on November 7th a resolution on the International Convention against Enforced Disappearance.

Presented by France, Morocco and Argentina, this resolution was adopted by consensus and was supported by 78 co-sponsoring countries.

This resolution, presented every two years since 2015, calls for all States which have not yet signed and ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance to do so, with the aim of its universal ratification.

Enforced disappearances, what are they?

  • They consist of abductions or any other forms of deprivation of liberty founded on political motives, followed by the refusal to recognize this deprivation of liberty or concealing the fate reserved to the person who has disappeared or their location, effectively removing them from the protection of the law
  • The perpetrators of such disappearances act on account of, or with a State’s endorsement

Enforced disappearances remain too often a reality, as demonstrated by the works produced by the United Nations’ Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. Since its creation in 1980, the Working Group brought up 57,891 cases to the attention of 108 States. The total number of cases which have not yet been resolved, are closed or have been classified amounts to 45,811 cases. Hundreds of new cases are signaled to the Working Group each year.

These unresolved or unpunished disappearances constitute grave human rights violations which must be fought.

Why have an International Convention?

Adopted at the UN General Assembly in 2006 and having come into effect in 2010, this Convention is a crucial instrument in the fight against enforced disappearance.

The Convention :

  • establishes a legal definition of enforced disappearance, which is binding on State Parties
  • qualifies the widespread or systematized practice of enforced disappearances as "crimes against humanity"
  • prohibits secret detention locations and reinforces procedural guarantees surrounding detention
  • provides families and relatives with a right to know the truth about a victim’s fate

No extenuating circumstance, whatever it may be, can be invoked to justify enforced disappearances.

The Convention also concerns prevention as it covers the implementation of mechanisms of surveillance and early warning.

Finally, the Convention is fitted with a Committee on enforced disappearances in charge of overseeing its application by State Parties.

As of November 1st, 2019, 98 States had signed the convention and 62 had ratified it.

A lasting engagement for France

France has been mobilized for several years in the fight against enforced disappearance:

  • it initiated the first resolution adopted by the UN in 1978 and continues to carry this resolution every two years at the General Assembly, alongside Argentina and Morrocco
  • it presided negotiations relative to the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance adopted by the UN in 1992
  • it is the French expert Louis Joinet who drafted the proposal for binding mechanisms on enforced disappearances, which led to the Convention’s adoption
  • it assured the presidency of the Working Group tasked with the elaboration of a project of instruments for the Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
  • it co-presided with Argentina the Group of Friends of the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

France ratified the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance on September 23, 2008. It also recognized the competency of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances through the December 9, 2008 declaration, laid down by Article 31 of the Convention.

Dernière modification : 24/02/2020

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