23 December 2012 – Today marks the 2nd anniversary of the entry into force of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (Convention) – a strong message to the international community that enforced disappearance must have no place in any part of the world.
The year 2012 marks an important milestone in the history of the struggle against the global scourge of enforced disappearance for three reasons:
First, on December 18, the UN Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance reached 20 years since its adoption. Yet, being a non-legally binding instrument, the declaration is not legally-binding and thus, has its own limitations. Nevertheless, it remains useful especially for states that have not yet ratified the Convention.
Second, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (Convention) has been signed by Thailand and ratified by Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mauritania, Peru, and Samoa. However, only Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus far, has recognized the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance (UN CED).
Third, pieces of domestic legislation were passed by Nuevo Haya, Mexico and the Philippines on the same year. The passing of the first anti-disappearance law on 21 December in the Philippines, is the first in Asia and indeed, a precious Christmas gift to the Filipino disappeared and their families.
This year has been a progressive year for the global struggle against the crime of enforced disappearance. As the world commemorated the 64th anniversary of the International Human Rights Day on December 10, the members of the ICAED continues to exercise its mandate of campaigning for as many signatures to and ratifications of the Convention. Its 50 international and national member-organizations and their corresponding network in various parts of the world conduct, in varying levels, campaign and lobby through public events, letters, representations at the United Nations during the UPR , thus giving UN experts complementary information on treaty implementation gathered from the field. Associations and federations of families of the disappeared and international and national non-government organizations work together to attain universal accession and implementation of the Convention.
It has been thirty years since the Convention was first drafted in Paris, France – inspired by the Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared-Detainees, who first dreamed of it during its Founding Congress in San Jose, Costa Rica in 1981. Despite the progressive ratification process, it is saddening to note that the total number of ratifications has not even doubled its number exactly twenty-four months since the Convention entered into force. To date, there are 91 signatories and 37 States Parties to the Convention. Among this limited number of States Parties, only 16 states have recognized the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearance (CED). With the still unresolved cases of enforced disappearances and the continuing commission of the crime in many countries of the world, the Coalition deems it alarming that universal accession is far from being attained.
Thus, the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) continuously calls on all states to sign, ratify the Convention and to recognize the UN CED. Furthermore, the Coalition calls on the states to enact pieces of domestic legislation that criminalizes enforced disappearance and ensure prevention and punishment of the said crime.
The Coalition fervently hopes to end this long journey towards a world without disappeared persons through the universal accession of all states to the Convention.
MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO, Focal Person
International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED)