1. Expressing deep concern at the significant numbers of missing persons worldwide, in connection with international and non-international armed conflicts and concomitant violations of international treaty and customary humanitarian law and human rights, notably the right to life and dignity for all people,

    2. Stressing the primary relevance of the principles and norms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions on Protection of Victims of War/1949 and Additional Protocols/1977, the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, International Covenants, the European Convention on Human Rights and other pertinent international instruments and jurisprudence,

    3. Recalling pertinent UN resolutions, particularly General Assembly resolutions 69/184 of December 2014 and 68/165 of December 2013 and related resolutions of the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

    4. Recognizing the strong need for a comprehensive response regarding the issue of missing persons and states’ responsibility to address this problem, on the basis of universal, uniform and binding standards,

    5. Having regard to the five key areas identified by the PACE in its Resolution 1956/2013 entitled “Missing persons from Europe’s conflicts: the long way to finding humanitarian answers,” on which states must focus to solve the problem of missing persons,

    6. Stressing the high relevance of the OSCE reconciliation and peace-building efforts across the conflict cycle and upon the principles of comprehensive and indivisible security towards a security community,

    7. Based on the principle that no missing person may be considered and established as dead on the grounds of speculation, unconfirmed information and unsubstantiated data,

    8. Placing particular emphasis on the need to put an end to the prolonged anguish of the families of missing persons and on the inalienable human right of these people to know about the fate, whereabouts and circumstances, under which their relatives have gone missing, to recover the remains of identified missing persons, and honour their memory according to their religion and funeral customs,

    9. Condemning the executions of prisoners of war or civilians in captivity during hostilities or after the cessation thereof, as a heinous war crime,

    10. Pointing out notable scientific and technological progress achieved in efforts to locate and identify missing persons and to investigate violations of humanitarian law and human rights law in connection with armed conflicts,

    11. Commending the work of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (RCRC) and other international and regional organizations and mechanisms in this field; in particular, the recommendations contained in the ICMP 2013 comprehensive Report entitled “The missing: an agenda for the future,” as well as the RCRC 31st International Conference of 2011 and four-year Action Plan,

    12. Praising the commitment of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia to the systematic location and identification of missing persons and to promoting basic principles and practices in this field and their signing of the ICMP “Declaration on the Role of the State in addressing the issue of persons missing as a consequence of armed conflict and human rights abuses” of 29 August 2014,

    13. Deploring persisting reluctance by states which have been/are parties to an armed conflict, to honestly and effectively address the issue of missing persons and to allow unimpeded and impartial investigations in this regard,

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:

    1. Calls upon OSCE participating States to strictly observe their commitments under international treaty and customary humanitarian law, human rights law, and the rule of law, particularly with regard to missing persons in connection with armed conflicts;

    2. Invites OSCE participating States that have not done so to proceed to the ratification of pertinent international legal instruments;

    3. Stresses the legitimate human right of the relatives of missing persons and societies to truth, justice and remedy, as a primary humanitarian necessity and an essential condition, in efforts towards reconciliation and the peaceful settlement of conflicts, the end of impunity and the non-repetition of such crimes;

    4. Stresses the need to enhance efforts, at the level of States and the international community, towards a comprehensive and binding legal instrument on missing persons;

    5. Urges OSCE participating States, which have been/are parties to an armed conflict, to comply with pertinent judgments of International Courts and Tribunals, particularly the European Court of Human Rights, regarding their obligations towards the victims and their relatives;

    6. Fully endorses the ICMP “Declaration on the role of the State in addressing the issue of persons missing as a consequence of armed conflict and human rights abuses,” and encourages OSCE participating States to join this initiative and see to the promotion and effective implementation of the principles and commitments set out therein;

    7. Calls upon OSCE participating States, which have been/are parties to an armed conflict, to address the issue of missing persons from a humanitarian perspective and in consistence with international norms, standards and customs:
      1. To adopt and implement all necessary legal and practical measures to ensure their increased ownership and full accountability regarding missing persons, through comprehensive, effective, transparent and reliable processes;

      2. To ensure that families’ needs are met and their active engagement and participation in these processes are safeguarded;

      3. To provide all necessary information and assistance and to allow adequate, prompt and impartial investigations and to accelerate those underway about the fate, whereabouts, circumstances and cause of death of missing persons, including by allowing access to their archives and to mass gravesites, which are clandestine and/or located in sensitive areas under their legal or de facto control;

      4. To ensure the collection, protection and management of data on missing persons, unidentified remains and burial sites, and to refrain from deliberate relocation of remains from mass graves, which further complicates their location, identification, skeletal reconstitution and return in their entirety to the families;

      5. To facilitate all processes, particularly criminal proceedings, towards the prosecution of perpetrators of crimes related to missing persons and human rights abuses in connection with armed conflicts and to foster international and regional judicial co-operation to this effect;

      6. To ensure information sharing, networking, exchange of experience and best practices and other means of substantial co-operation and co-ordination with state institutions, commissions on missing persons, competent regional and international organizations and mechanisms, particularly the ICMP and the RCRC and with other actors and civil society, towards promoting highly reliable investigations, forensic operations and reliable data, in strict compliance with human rights principles and norms, as well as common guidelines, standards and policies, capacity building, education and training;
    8. Calls upon the OSCE to engage more actively regarding the issue of missing persons in connection with armed conflicts, across the conflict cycle and through its field missions, by providing expertise, where applicable, further promoting dialogue and co-operation between States concerned and with stakeholders and further encouraging and supporting bilateral and regional co-operation initiatives in this field;

    9. Stresses the fundamental legislative and oversight role of Parliaments towards the implementation of the above goals, and decides to closely follow this matter and to use its full potential in parliamentary diplomacy to this effect.