Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Commentary of 2020 
Article 123 : Central Tracing Agency
Text of the provision*
(1) A Central Prisoners of War Information Agency shall be created in a neutral country. The International Committee of the Red Cross shall, if it deems necessary, propose to the Powers concerned the organization of such an Agency.
(2) The function of the Agency shall be to collect all the information it may obtain through official or private channels respecting prisoners of war, and to transmit it as rapidly as possible to the country of origin of the prisoners of war or to the Power on which they depend. It shall receive from the Parties to the conflict all facilities for effecting such transmissions.
(3) The High Contracting Parties, and in particular those whose nationals benefit by the services of the Central Agency, are requested to give the said Agency the financial aid it may require.
(4) The foregoing provisions shall in no way be interpreted as restricting the humanitarian activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross, or of the relief Societies provided for in Article 125.
* Paragraph numbers have been added for ease of reference.
Reservations or declarations
None.
Contents

A. Introduction
4803  The ICRC’s original remit was to alleviate the suffering of members of the armed forces during armed conflict. It soon became clear, however, that there was also a need to respond to the distress of families caused by not knowing what had happened to their relatives. Recognition of this need prompted the ICRC, as early as 1870, to establish an agency for this purpose, initially on an ad hoc basis. The structure took on greater permanence during and after the First World War, a fact acknowledged in the 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War.[1] In 1949, the Diplomatic Conference reaffirmed the importance of the Agency’s work, incorporating in the present provision of the Third Convention an obligation for High Contracting Parties to establish such a body for prisoners of war. The same obligation with respect to civilian internees and other protected civilians was included in the Fourth Convention.[2]
4804  Historically, the Central Tracing Agency was known as the International Prisoners of War Agency and later as the Central Prisoners of War Information Agency. It was renamed the Central Tracing Agency in 1960 to take account of the full range of its activities. Hereinafter it is referred to interchangeably as ‘the Central Tracing Agency’ or ‘the Agency’.
4805  In situations of armed conflict, the Agency endeavours to relieve the suffering of families by, among others, collecting, centralizing and transmitting information related to the fate and whereabouts of prisoners of war, civilian internees and other protected persons. It also enables separated family members to restore and maintain contact through various means, thereby contributing to prevent people from going missing, and helps searching for and clarifying the fate and whereabouts of those reported missing.
4806  Article 123 foresees the creation by the Parties to a conflict of a ‘Central Prisoners of War Information Agency’ in a neutral country. However, from the outset, it has been the ICRC that has effectively set up and run such an agency. The mandate and activities of the present-day Central Tracing Agency reflect the humanitarian initiatives taken by the ICRC on behalf of prisoners of war and separated family members since its very beginnings. Over the years, the Agency has sought to adapt to circumstances arising from hostilities and violence, even if at times this has involved going beyond what is strictly prescribed by the text of the law, while respecting its spirit.[3]
4807  This commentary focuses on the Agency’s work for prisoners of war under the Third Convention, with some references to other beneficiaries under the First and Second Conventions, such as the wounded, the sick, the shipwrecked and the dead.[4] The Agency’s work for civilian internees and other protected persons,[5] as well as for individuals who do not benefit from any other treaty protection, is dealt with in the commentary on Article 140 of the Fourth Convention. The two commentaries are complementary and should be read together for an understanding of the full extent of the Agency’s tasks under the Conventions.[6]
4808  Article 123 also needs to be read in conjunction with other provisions in the Convention that relate, in particular, to the dead[7] and to the national information bureaux.[8]
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B. Historical background
1. From the Agency’s beginnings to the First World War
4809  The Central Agency dates back to 1870. During the 1870–71 Franco-Prussian War, the ICRC took the initiative to open an official agency in Basel to centralize information on wounded and sick soldiers. It subsequently extended the agency’s tasks to collecting and forwarding all possible information concerning prisoners of war. The initiative of the ICRC to include healthy prisoners was prompted by humanitarian concerns rather than specific conventional provisions.[9] The ICRC established similar agencies in Trieste in 1877 during the Russo-Turkish war[10] and in Belgrade in 1912 during the First Balkan War.
4810  Based on its earlier practice and on resolutions of the International Conference of the Red Cross (hereinafter ‘the International Conference’), which extended the organization’s mandate to prisoners of war,[11] the ICRC established the International Prisoners of War Agency on 21 August 1914. Its tasks were to collect and transmit information on all soldiers who were wounded, sick, deceased or detained, as well as on alien civilians in enemy territory.[12] At the close of its offices in 1919, the Agency’s archives contained more than 7 million cards recording information on more than 2 million prisoners.[13] In recognition of their importance, UNESCO added those archives to the Memory of the World in 2007.[14]
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2. Between the world wars
4811  A number of resolutions of the International Conference also recognized the importance of the Agency’s work during the First World War.[15] In 1929, the Agency was expressly mentioned for the first time in an international convention: the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War. Recognizing its experience during the First World War, the Convention entrusted the ICRC with establishing ‘a Central Agency of information regarding prisoners of war’, with a dual mandate: to collect and centralize all the information that could be obtained through official or private channels regarding prisoners of war; and to transmit that information to the prisoners’ own country or the Power in whose service they had been.[16]
4812  During the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War, the ICRC created a Spanish Service, whose mandate was, among other things, to forward news between separated family members. By the end of the conflict, more than 5 million messages had been exchanged with the assistance of the ICRC. As it had done during the First World War, the ICRC also expanded its activities in the field, visiting more than 89,000 detainees by 31 December 1938.[17]
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3. The Second World War
4813  Article 79 of the 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War provided the ICRC with the legal basis to set up in September 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War, the Central Prisoners of War Agency, whose work was very similar to that of its 1914 predecessor. One innovation was the introduction of capture cards,[18] which provided the Agency with more accurate information, often months before official lists were received from the Parties. The technical means at the Agency’s disposal also significantly improved: photocopies, microfilms, telegraphs and radio messages helped it gain time and increase efficiency.[19] By June 1947, the Agency, with the help of its 2,585 staff members, had built an index of more than 36 million cards, of which more than 30 million concerned prisoners of war. It also passed on some 120 million messages carrying news to and from prisoners of war and their families. During the conflict, and consistent with the practice developed since the First World War, the work of the Agency stretched beyond Geneva. ICRC and Agency staff made about 11,000 on-site visits to camps for prisoners of war and civilian internees. Although it had no access to concentration camps, it was able to send parcels to inmates and used the ‘receipts’ they signed to collect information about them.[20]
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4. Diplomatic Conference of 1949
4814  By 1949, the Agency had acquired extensive experience catering to the humanitarian needs of military and civilian victims of armed conflict. The Diplomatic Conference of that year was therefore careful not to interfere with the Agency’s structure and legal basis, which it confirmed in the present Convention and repeated in very similar terms in Article 140 of the Fourth Convention. In both cases, it added a request to the Parties to a conflict to give the Central Agency all facilities for effecting the transmission of information and to the High Contracting Parties to grant any financial aid the Agency might require. A reference to the relief societies described in Article 125 was also added in the last paragraph of the present article (likewise in Article 140(4) of the Fourth Convention).
4815  The compulsory establishment of a Central Agency was not at stake at the Conference, since this principle had already been accepted in the 1929 Convention. The Conference did, however, debate the role of the ICRC in this respect. Some delegates wanted to place the Agency under the permanent responsibility of the ICRC.[21] The cost of operating the Agency was probably the most debated aspect, with some delegates wishing to have a say in how it worked[22] and insisting that the costs be shared proportionally between the belligerents whose nationals benefited from the Agency’s services.[23] The ICRC explained that this would entail considerable accounting difficulties, as the Agency dealt not only with prisoners, but also with other categories of war victims. The ‘proportional rule’ also ignored two facts: first, the Agency’s work benefited not only a prisoner’s home country but also, indirectly, the Detaining Power; and second, the government of the prisoner’s own country might be non-existent or unable to meet these expenses, while the prisoner was as much, perhaps even more, in need of the services of the Agency as other prisoners.[24] With this in mind, the Diplomatic Conference eventually abandoned the proportional allocation of costs and adopted the present provision proposed by the ICRC.[25]
4816  Towards the end of the Diplomatic Conference, the Coordination Committee pointed out that the present article did not contain the equivalent reservation found in its parallel provision in the Fourth Convention (Article 140). The latter allows the Agency to refrain from transmitting information when such transmission ‘might be detrimental to the persons whom the said information concerns, or to their relatives’.[26] It was generally agreed to leave the article as it was, because there was a clear difference between the situation of civilians and that of prisoners of war. Civilians might already be on foreign territory at the outbreak of hostilities and might have reasons for not wishing for news about them to be passed on to their country of origin, whereas prisoners of war were in the service of their country, which was likely to already possess the information collected and forwarded by the Agency.[27] However, practice has shown that in certain circumstances prisoners of war need as much protection as civilians in this regard.[28]
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5. Practice of the Agency since 1949
4817  The Agency has never ceased to function under the responsibility of the ICRC, both based in Geneva. In principle, whenever a conflict has occurred since the Second World War, the ICRC has placed the Agency at the disposal of the Parties to the conflict, and these have accepted its services.
4818  In addition to its work in the aftermath of the Second World War, the Agency operated in conflicts connected to the Cold War and decolonization, such as the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the 1954–62 Algerian War of Independence and the 1952–60 Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya. The Agency also extended its activities to the search for victims of natural disasters, such as after the 1960 earthquake in Agadir (Morocco). By that time, the Agency’s name no longer adequately reflected the activities it had been conducting. On 1 July 1960, the ICRC therefore renamed it the Central Tracing Agency to better reflect the extent of its activities, covering without distinction military and civilian victims in all armed conflicts (including occupation), other situations of violence and vulnerability (including international migration) and disasters.[29]
4819  In addition to the tasks that are clearly set out in the Third Convention (and repeated in the Fourth Convention), the Agency has consistently performed tasks of a humanitarian character for military and civilian victims, including: restoring and maintaining family links; issuing, where necessary, travel documents (titres de voyage) for persons without official papers; and obtaining information on the fate and whereabouts of missing persons and supporting their families, including by supporting or providing forensic services to help identify the dead. To be closer to its beneficiaries and increase its effectiveness, the Agency has also significantly decentralized its activities and supports National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (hereinafter National Societies) in developing their own tracing services.[30]
4820  Additional Protocol I of 1977 confirmed the Agency’s key role in the collection and transmission of information during international armed conflict.[31]
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C. Paragraph 1: Establishment and organization of the Agency
1. Obligation to establish an Agency
4821  The first sentence of this paragraph requires that a Central Agency be set up (‘shall’) but does not specify by whom. The subsequent sentence invites the ICRC to propose the creation of such an Agency. This invitation is expressed in strong terms (‘shall propose’) but is qualified by the phrase ‘if it deems necessary’. In practice, no other agency has ever been organized for the purposes of Article 123. The ICRC has played the role assigned by the Geneva Conventions to the Agency since the very beginning, thus exercising the option granted by the High Contracting Parties.
4822  Subsequent practice and recent instruments confirm the ICRC’s role in organizing the Agency.[32] This does not preclude other organizations or National Societies from carrying out some of the Agency’s tasks, including similar ones assigned to national information bureaux.[33] But this would not relieve the Parties of their obligation to communicate and transmit to the Agency information concerning the persons covered by the work of the Agency, in accordance with the provisions of the Conventions.
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2. Organization, nature and main characteristics
4823  The Convention is silent on how the Agency should be organized and whether it should separate its work for military personnel (the wounded, the sick, the shipwrecked and prisoners of war) from that for other protected persons (Article 140 of the Fourth Convention). Practice has proved the advantages of combining the two aspects in a single, permanent structure covering prisoners of war, civilian internees and other protected persons, and this is what the Agency has always done.
4824  As an integral part of the ICRC structure, the Agency is part of an international organization that has a permanent nature and a functional international personality.[34] In keeping with the ICRC’s own mandate and mission, the Agency is guided solely by the humanitarian purpose of its activities.[35]
4825  Article 123(1) provides that the Agency ‘shall be created in a neutral country’.[36] For the drafters, it was essential that the Agency be neutral if it was to act effectively. As an intermediary between two or more Parties to a conflict, it cannot accomplish its humanitarian tasks unless it enjoys the full confidence of those Parties. At the time of the Convention’s adoption, the only way for the Agency to remain in continuous contact with the Parties was to maintain its headquarters in a neutral country.
4826  Nowadays, with a presence in the field, the Agency’s neutrality is linked more to the manner in which it carries out its work than to the country or countries in which it is based. Like the ICRC as a whole, the Agency does not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.[37] In practice, the Agency’s humanitarian, neutral, impartial and independent nature, combined with its capacity to manage delicate and confidential information, has proved essential in gaining and maintaining the confidence of all parties, from the persons it aims to protect and assist to government authorities. This has considerably facilitated the Agency’s work in obtaining information on prisoners of war, thereby helping to avoid their disappearance and alleviating the families’ anguish.
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D. Paragraph 2: Tasks of the Agency
4827  The Convention assigns specific tasks to the Agency. These concern the collection and centralization of information on specified persons and its transmission to the Parties to a conflict. In addition, the Parties have accepted that the Agency act as an intermediary in conveying information to the families of the persons concerned, although this aspect of its work is not explicitly provided for in the Convention.
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1. Collecting and centralizing information
4828  Pursuant to Article 123(2), the first task of the Agency is to collect information concerning prisoners of war. The collection and centralization of this information obtained from the Parties and other sources gives the Agency considerable value, particularly when countries are suffering armed conflict, their administration is in disarray and their archives are scattered or destroyed. Bringing together information on protected persons in a single, neutral body helps ensure that those persons receive maximum protection.
4829  The Agency may collect information ‘through official or private channels’. It should obtain that information first of all from the national information bureaux, as provided for in Article 122. These, along with other competent national authorities, represent the official channels mentioned in the Convention.[38] Authorities often commit, in their laws and regulations, their military manuals,[39] or in specific agreements between adversaries or allies,[40] to transmit to the Agency information concerning persons they detain. Information on persons detained by or held under the jurisdiction of the United Nations should also be considered as ‘official’ irrespective of the nature of the conflict.[41] If the Conventions are correctly applied, these official sources should transmit information to the Agency of their own accord.
4830  Information from private channels includes that which is received from National Societies, the ICRC itself, in particular during visits to prisoners of war, hospitals, community bodies, local institutions, or private persons.[42] There is no difference in the weight given to any of the sources, as long as the information is relevant information concerning prisoners of war and their families. Nor should the Agency hesitate to seek potentially useful information from non-official sources. For example, where official sources are lacking, the information collected by ICRC delegates during visits to places of detention, including through the registration of detainees, has been crucial in preventing disappearances.[43]
4831  In terms of the information to be processed, the First, Second and Third Conventions expressly authorize the Agency to:
– collect the information that the Parties should obtain on wounded, sick, shipwrecked or dead members of the armed forces, as well as their personal belongings;[44]
– collect information on prisoner transfers, releases, repatriations, escapes, admissions to hospital and deaths, and the state of health of those seriously ill or seriously wounded;[45]
– collect and centralize the information a prisoner of war is bound to provide to the Party detaining them;[46]
– receive duplicates of certificates of illness and treatment received;[47]
– receive copies of medical certificates for occupational accidents and diseases;[48]
– receive duplicates of claims for compensation;[49]
– collect capture cards;[50]
– forward prisoners’ correspondence;[51]
– collect and transmit legal documents;[52]
– obtain duplicates of prisoners’ wills.[53]
In practice, the Agency has not limited itself to collecting the information listed above and has sought to obtain, through its visits based on Article 126 and its right of humanitarian initiative enshrined in Article 9, all relevant information enabling it to inform prisoners’ next of kin of their fate and whereabouts. It has also extended its work to cover all persons detained in connection with a conflict, a practice that has been confirmed in Additional Protocol I.[54]
4832  In addition, the Agency may be involved in the transmission of articles of value belonging to prisoners of war upon their repatriation;[55] the collection and transmission of the names of prisoners who are not repatriated at the end of hostilities because of pending criminal proceedings;[56] and the receipt and transmission of information related to the results of investigations related to the death or serious injury of a prisoner of war.[57]
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2. Transmission of information
4833  The Agency is tasked with transmitting to the prisoners’ country of origin or to the Power on which they depend information, documents and personal belongings which various provisions of the Convention require the Parties to collect and send to the Agency. In this respect, the Agency acts as a ‘transmission channel’ between the respective authorities.
4834  Under these provisions, there is no exception to the information that the High Contracting Parties are obliged to transmit to the Agency. Even in exceptional circumstances where the information required by the Convention should remain confidential owing to legitimate protection considerations, Parties must transmit it to the Agency, with an indication of its confidential nature. Any domestic laws or regulations should be interpreted in a way that ensures both the fulfilment of the obligations set out in the Convention and respect for international principles and standards on privacy and data protection.[58]
4835  According to the letter of the Convention, the Agency may choose to transmit the information obtained through official or private channels either to the prisoners’ country of origin or to the Power on which they depend, or to both. In practice, the appropriateness of transmission will always be checked against the harm it might cause to the persons concerned or to their families.[59] For example, the fact that the country of origin is informed that one of its nationals was fighting for the armed forces of another country may be detrimental to that person and/or to their family. Furthermore, notifying the country of origin requires the prisoner’s consent, and prisoners of war are under no obligation to reveal their country of origin to the detaining authorities.[60] The authorities or bodies in those countries that are to receive the information are not named, and it is for every State to designate as it wishes the recipient of the information communicated by the Agency. In practice, national information bureaux have often been considered as obvious correspondents for the Agency.
4836  Article 123 does not specify what relations the Agency should maintain with prisoners’ families. Article 123(2) only requires the Agency to transmit the information to the country of origin or to the Power on which the person depends. However, in practice, and for strictly humanitarian purposes, the Agency transmits information directly to the family, with the knowledge of the relevant authorities or upon the family’s request (see section D.5), and always in accordance with the prisoner’s wishes. The information provided to the family is the same as that which the authorities should have transmitted; for the exchange of family news, the Agency offers prisoners the use of Red Cross messages, phone calls, video calls or other means.
4837  Although not specifically required to do so under the Convention, the Agency systematically keeps a copy of the information required by the Convention it has obtained. Recording the information, in full respect for the rules on data protection, is essential for the Agency to be able to respond to future queries from the authorities or families when they arise.
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3. Exception to transmission of information
4838  Contrary to the corresponding provision in Article 140(2) of the Fourth Convention, the present article does not provide an exception to the transmission of information by the Agency.[61] In principle, the Agency is obliged to transmit the information required by the Convention to the country of origin or to the Power on which the prisoner depends.[62]
4839  The Agency’s practice has confirmed the soundness of the rule contained in Article 123. Application of this provision limits situations in which the Detaining Power might be tempted not to notify the country of origin of a person’s detention. In such a case, the prisoner would be considered to have disappeared, exacerbating the anxiety of the family and the mistrust of the other Party, the very situation the Convention aims to avoid.
4840  Nevertheless, the absolute character of the obligation has to be reconciled with protection against the transmission of information that might be detrimental to the individual concerned and/or their family. Prisoners of war who fear that the information they provide might be used against them or their families can therefore request that it be withheld from the Powers concerned.[63] In such cases, the Agency has followed the same practice for all protected persons, whether military or civilian, extending to both the exception expressly provided for the latter. Additional Protocol I reaffirmed the need to verify the potential harm caused to protected persons before taking any action.[64]
4841  In addition, the Agency itself may suspend the transmission of information in cases where the Power on which the persons depend systematically uses the information to harm the persons concerned or their families, such as to make accusations of desertion or to intimidate or persecute families. Transmission may also be suspended where the information is repeatedly (mis)used for propaganda purposes. This is also consistent with the notion that personal data may not be used for purposes other than those for which they were collected or for compatible further processing. Accordingly, if the Power on which the persons depend uses that information to harm them or their families, it is only proper that transmission be suspended.[65] Such suspension is a matter for the Agency and not for the Power into whose hands the persons have fallen; it remains incumbent on the latter to transmit the information to the Agency. The Agency may still communicate the information directly to the families concerned if it considers that it can so act without prejudice to anyone.
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4. Protection of personal information
4842  The Agency follows the ICRC’s Rules on Personal Data Protection, which are consistent with applicable international principles and standards on privacy and data protection.[66] For example, the Rules require that the processing of personal information have a legal basis and a specified purpose. Such processing is lawful if, among other things, it complies with a legal obligation to collect and transmit such information, in this case Article 123 itself; it serves the vital interest of the data subject (in this case the prisoner of war) or of another person, in this case preventing them from going missing; or it serves an important public interest, i.e. the fulfilment of a humanitarian mandate established under international law, in this case the maintenance or restoration of family links. The Agency also supports National Societies in their efforts to respect data-protection principles in their own activities.
4843  Information on the state of health of prisoners of war is of a medical nature and constitutes particularly sensitive personal information, subject to confidentiality. It must be handled with the utmost care given the person’s high degree of vulnerability.[67]
4844  In the processing and protection of personal information, the Agency benefits from the privileges and immunities that the ICRC enjoys, in most contexts, as an international organization. These include immunity from jurisdiction and inviolability of its premises, property and assets, including ICRC archives, all documents and data. Furthermore, ICRC's privilege of non-disclosure of its confidential information is well established in both international and domestic law. This means that authorities undertake not to refer to the content of Agency reports, correspondence and other communications in dealing with persons and/or organizations other than the designated recipients and not to use them in the course of legal proceedings without prior, written authorization. The ICRC's long-standing policy and practice of confidentiality has also proved essential in maintaining the trust and confidence of all parties, which the Agency and the ICRC require to operate.
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5. Response to requests for information
4845  The Convention assigns to national information bureaux the task of replying to all requests for information sent to them concerning prisoners, including those who have died in captivity.[68] Such requests may come from a variety of sources, including families, authorities, National Societies or other relief societies. The bureaux are expressly requested to make the enquiries necessary to obtain that information if it is not in their possession.[69]
4846  However, in practice, the Agency receives significantly more such requests – especially from families – than do national information bureaux and has always examined these requests. This task is compatible with those of collecting and centralizing the information discussed above and is generally accepted today as associated with the Agency.[70] From a humanitarian perspective, the Agency’s role in responding to such requests can help alleviate the anguish of the families. It also facilitates their access to national compensation schemes (e.g. sickness, unemployment, invalidity, survivors’ benefits), which often require some evidence of a person’s fate in order to process a claim.
4847  The Agency’s ability to interact directly with the families is extremely important, even if a national information bureau exists and the system of notification is functioning. Communications can be slow or disrupted in a country affected by armed conflict, or a Party to the conflict may wish to hide the extent of its losses by not revealing all the information it possesses. The Agency’s role takes on even greater importance if there is no national information bureau, in which case it might be the families’ only channel for obtaining information on the fate and whereabouts of their relatives. The Agency has no obligation to respond to requests for information and will refrain from doing so if it might be detrimental to the person concerned. In its case-by-case assessment, the Agency will always give priority to the wishes of the persons concerned and to the possible protection risks to them or their families, or to its own activities.
4848  When an armed conflict is over, the Agency will continue to fulfil its humanitarian tasks. Practice has shown that families continue to have requests for information and important needs years after the end of hostilities. These needs include family reunification, the establishment of various certificates and attestations, and information on missing persons.[71]
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6. Complementarity of the Agency and national information bureaux
4849  Many of the Agency’s tasks listed in the Convention are the same as those assigned to national information bureaux. Both are required to collect and centralize the same type of information.[72] Under Additional Protocol I, both are involved in tracing persons missing in connection with international armed conflict.[73]
4850  While some of these functions are complementary, there is also a certain duplication, which was intended by the drafters. The collection and centralization of information by the national information bureaux and by the Agency and its transmission reflect the idea that two parallel systems afford better protection than one. In practice, the Agency almost always collects its own information, in parallel to that provided by national information bureaux. This is even more important if the bureaux have no, incomplete or unreliable information. In this respect, the Agency grounds its action in Article 123, which authorizes it to collect information from private channels (sources), as well as in the ICRC’s right of supervision[74] and right of humanitarian initiative.[75]
4851  The Agency may also fulfil other tasks assigned by the Convention to the national information bureaux if the bureaux are not functioning or do not carry out all the tasks attributed to them under the Geneva Conventions. But it generally prefers not to act as a substitute for such bureaux, whose setting up and functioning is a primary responsibility of the Parties to a conflict.
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E. Paragraph 2: Means and facilities
4852  Article 123(2) requires that information be transmitted ‘as rapidly as possible’. The need for fast transmission of information is evident from the provision’s purpose and was clearly understood by the drafters as necessary to protect individuals, reassure their families and prevent disappearances. Indeed, a primary condition of the success of the Agency’s work is timely communication. The precise means of transmission has depended greatly on technical progress. It has included post, telegram, radio, electronic communication and hand delivery. Some of these means (e.g. telegram) have fallen into relative disuse,[76] and the requirement to transmit as rapidly as possible suggests that in practice electronic means such as protected websites and email, using local internet access, local mobile phone networks or satellite links, will often be the most appropriate, provided such means are secure and do not pose data-protection risks.[77]
4853  As mentioned above,[78] the last sentence of paragraph 2 is an addition to the corresponding provision in the 1929 Convention. It requires that the High Contracting Parties grant ‘all facilities for effecting such transmissions’. At the 1949 Diplomatic Conference, there was some discussion of the need to specify that such facilities should be ‘reasonable’ (as proposed by the UK representative and included in the Fourth Convention), but ultimately this qualification was considered superfluous.[79]
4854  During the Second World War, the Agency enjoyed exemption from postal charges, and it was easy for this benefit to be carried through into Articles 74 and 124 of the present Convention.[80] The Convention expressly provides that special transportation means (including truck, rail and aircraft) may be made available to the Agency for the correspondence, lists and reports exchanged with national information bureaux.[81] Today, the Agency may also request the right to despatch and receive its correspondence by courier or in sealed bags, which would have the same immunities and privileges as diplomatic courier services and bags.[82]
4855  The Agency was not able to obtain any exemption for telegrams during the Second World War and was obliged to come to an agreement with the authorities and the telegraph services of the countries concerned on a method of settling the charges, hence the softer language of Article 124, which suggests that the Agency should enjoy, ‘so far as possible, exemption from telegraphic charges or, at least, greatly reduced rates’.[83] On this issue and on all matters relating to official communications, practice shows that in the vast majority of cases authorities are willing to grant the Agency treatment in terms of priorities, rates and taxes no less favourable than that accorded to intergovernmental organizations.
4856  As regards radio and other means of telecommunication, practice has greatly evolved since the Second World War.[84] The Agency benefits from a longstanding practice and generally enjoys the free use, for official purposes and without any interference, of the means of communication it deems most appropriate for its work, including the right to install on its premises telecommunication equipment and to use mobile equipment within national territory. Furthermore, and in accordance with Resolution 10 of the International Telecommunication Union, national authorities are urged to assign specific frequencies for the humanitarian tasks of the ICRC and its Agency.[85] In practice, the Agency and the ICRC are increasingly limiting the use of radio communication to in-house purposes and short-distance communications and now tend to use local telecommunication infrastructure (internet, global system for mobile communications) and satellite links for long-distance ones.
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F. Paragraph 3: Financial support
4857  During the preparatory phase of the 1949 Diplomatic Conference, the attention of governments was drawn to the question of the expenditures incurred by the Agency in performing its tasks, a matter that the 1929 Convention on Prisoners of War did not regulate. In practice, the ICRC has always drawn on the funds at its disposal for the operation of the Agency. Thus, during the Conference, it was of the utmost importance for the ICRC and for the great majority of governments to ensure that the Agency would be able to operate without interruption. As mentioned earlier, a number of avenues were explored, including a proportional contribution, but this was ultimately abandoned by the Conference.[86] Delegates preferred the present wording, which makes it clear that, in view of its importance, the operation of the Agency must not be hindered and calls this matter to the attention not only of the Parties to armed conflict but of all States party to the Convention, since they all implicitly recognize the usefulness and universality of the Agency.
4858  Today, the Agency’s expenditures are covered by the ICRC budget, and no distinction is made between its costs or those of the ICRC’s other activities. In this way, the High Contracting Parties’ contributions to the ICRC budget make good on their commitment ‘to give the said Agency the financial aid it may require’ set forth in this provision.
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G. Paragraph 4: Safeguard clause
4859  The last paragraph of Article 123 was already included in the 1929 Convention on Prisoners of War, except for the reference to ‘relief societies’.[87] It was necessary in 1929, because only two provisions of that Convention referred expressly to the work of the ICRC (its right of humanitarian initiative and its role in the organization of the Agency). It was therefore important to state clearly that the mention of those activities was not intended to exclude action by the ICRC on behalf of prisoners in other domains.
4860  The 1949 Convention reaffirms the ICRC’s right of humanitarian initiative[88] and specifies all its other activities (relief, camp visits, etc.), apart from those falling within the competence of the Agency.[89] This clause serves as a safeguard that none of the activities and tasks specifically entrusted to the Agency should be interpreted as limiting the ICRC’s right of humanitarian initiative in general and on behalf of prisoners of war in particular.
4861  The work of ‘relief societies’ is also covered by this clause. The societies are those provided for in Article 125 and include National Societies and other organizations assisting prisoners of war. The purpose of the provision is to ensure that relief societies that have successfully developed activities for prisoners of war, in particular as regards the collection and transmission of information, should not be hampered in their activities for the mere reason that such activities are not specifically listed in Article 125.[90] It would be regrettable if activities of that kind, which might be beneficial for prisoners, were to be rejected by a Party on the pretext that the Agency has a monopoly in the matter. This notwithstanding, the Parties would not be released from their obligation to transmit the required information concerning prisoners in their hands to the Agency, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.
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H. The Agency’s role in the worldwide family links network
4862  In recent decades, the Agency has worked increasingly with National Societies in carrying out tracing activities, which require close collaboration with local entities familiar with the culture and environment. Such partnerships were reaffirmed in the Statutes both of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement[91] and of the ICRC[92] and in Movement policy,[93] as well as in resolutions of the International Conference.[94] These texts lay down the role of the Movement in restoring and maintaining family links and of the Agency in offering coordination and technical advice to National Societies and governments in this field.[95] As central coordinator, the Agency will decide what action is to be taken in situations of armed conflict. The Agency provides National Societies with methodology, guidelines and tools and ensures coherence within the network. Through technical advice, the Agency supports the development of National Society tracing services, establishes good working practices, provides training as required, and coordinates the exchange of information for the purposes of pooling experience and consolidating shared knowledge.[96]
4863  The partnership between the ICRC and National Societies is essential for meeting the needs of prisoners of war (and other protected persons) who are separated from their families and for carrying out the tasks assigned to the Agency by the Conventions in the most efficient way possible. Through such cooperation, the Agency, with the active support of National Societies, is able to provide services across national borders, helping put family members back in contact and maintain family links or clarifying the fate and whereabouts of missing persons.
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Select bibliography
Aeschlimann, Alain, ‘Protection of detainees: ICRC action behind bars’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 87, No. 857, March 2005, pp. 83–122.
Bugnion, François, The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Protection of War Victims, ICRC/Macmillan, Oxford, 2003, pp. 84–89 and 555–579.
Đjurović, Gradimir, The Central Tracing Agency of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Henry Dunant Institute, Geneva, 1986.
ICRC, Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its Activities during the Second World War, Volume II: The Central Agency for Prisoners of War, ICRC, Geneva, May 1948.
Katz, Monique, ‘The Central Tracing Agency of the ICRC’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 17, No. 199, October 1977, pp. 407–412.
Petrig, Anna, ‘Search for Missing Persons’, in Andrew Clapham, Paola Gaeta and Marco Sassòli (eds), The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 257–276.
Sassòli, Marco, ‘The National Information Bureau in Aid of the Victims of Armed Conflicts’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 27, No. 256, February 1987, pp. 6–24.
Sassòli, Marco, International Humanitarian Law: Rules, Controversies, and Solutions to Problems Arising in Warfare, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, 2019.
Spieker, Heike, ‘Maintenance and Re-establishment of Family Links and Transmission of Information’, in Andrew Clapham, Paola Gaeta and Marco Sassòli (eds), The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 1089–1021.
Weill, Sharon, ‘Relations with the Outside World’, in Andrew Clapham, Paola Gaeta and Marco Sassòli (eds), The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 1013–1024.

1 - Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War (1929), Article 79.
2 - Fourth Convention, Article 140.
3 - See ICRC, Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its Activities during the Second World War, p. 15
4 - The relevant provisions in the First and Second Conventions are: First Convention, Articles 16(3) and 17(4), and Second Convention, Article 19(2)–(3).
5 - Fourth Convention, Article 4.
6 - In practice, the Central Tracing Agency also plays a role in non-international armed conflicts. See also the commentary on Article 3, paras 855–856. For further details, see the commentary on Article 5 of Additional Protocol II.
7 - See Article 120(1).
8 - See Article 122.
9 - The only text on the issue available at that time was a resolution adopted by the International Conference, which asked the ICRC to set up such an agency: ‘En cas de guerre, le Comité veillera à ce qu’il se forme, dans une localité convenablement choisie, un bureau de correspondance et de renseignement qui facilite … l’échange des communications’ (‘In case of war, the Committee will ensure that an office for correspondence and information is established in a suitable location to facilitate … the exchange of communications’) (emphasis added); 2nd International Conference of the Red Cross, Berlin, 1869, Res. IV, Du Comité international existant à Genève et des rapports internationaux des Sociétés de secours en général etc., para. 3.
10 - In this case, the agency was concerned only with the delivery of aid to prisoners of war of the Parties in conflict.
11 - See e.g. 9th International Conference of the Red Cross, Washington, 1912, Res. VI, Assistance to prisoners of war.
12 - The ICRC obtained assurances from most of the warring Parties that civilian internees would be treated in the same way as prisoners of war, making up for the absence of a legal framework in this respect.
13 - A service of the ICRC continued to perform some of the Agency’s tasks between the world wars.
14 - See ICRC, The International Prisoners-of-War Agency: The ICRC in World War One, ICRC, Geneva, 2007, p. 17. UNESCO described the archives as ‘testimony to the extent of human suffering during the First World War, but also the pioneering action to protect civilians’. The Agency also delivered over 1.8 million relief parcels.
15 - See 15th International Conference of the Red Cross, Tokyo, 1934, Res. I, Activité du Comité International de la Croix-Rouge, and ICRC, Quinzième Conférence internationale de la Croix-Rouge tenue à Tokio du 20 au 29 octobre 1934 : compte rendu, Tokyo, 1934, p. 113; 16th International Conference of the Red Cross, London, 1938, Res. II, Activities of the Red Cross Committee; and ICRC, General report of the International Red Cross Committee on its activities from August, 1934 to March, 1938, Geneva, 1938, pp. 33–34.
16 - Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War (1929), Article 79. However, no reference was made to work for civilians as these were not covered by the 1929 Conventions.
17 - For a detailed account, see Đjurović, p. 97.
18 - This was an ICRC initiative and not based on a provision of the 1929 Convention; see the commentary on Article 70, para. 3128.
19 - The Agency was able to use statistical technology, the Hollerith tabulating system, which proved very useful for large-scale investigations. For further information on the work of the Agency during the Second World War, see Maurice Bretonnière, L’application de la convention de Genève aux prisonniers français en Allemagne durant la seconde guerre mondiale (typewritten thesis), Paris, 1949, pp. 482–483.
20 - After the war, this information was passed on to the International Tracing Service (ITS), created in 1955. The mission of the ITS is to collect, preserve and render accessible to directly concerned individuals the documents relating to Germans and non-Germans who were interned during the National Socialist regime, or to non-Germans who were displaced as a result of the Second World War. The ICRC managed the ITS from 1955 to 2013. Today, an International Commission composed of government representatives of 11 countries sets out the guidelines for the ITS and oversees its work on behalf of former victims of persecution.
21 - See Minutes of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Committee II, Vol. I, 15th meeting, p. 49.
22 - See e.g. the position of the United Kingdom, ibid. p. 101.
23 - This proposal was first made at the 17th International Conference of the Red Cross, Stockholm, 1948, and read: ‘The costs of operating the Central Information Agency shall be borne proportionately by the belligerents whose nationals have the benefit of its services.’ See Draft Conventions adopted by the 1948 Stockholm Conference, p. 97.
24 - ICRC, The Geneva Conventions of 12 August, 1949: Analysis for the Use of National Red Cross Societies, Vol. II, ICRC, Geneva, 1950, p. 71.
25 - Minutes of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Committee II, Vol. I, 15th meeting, p. 56.
26 - Fourth Convention, Article 140(2).
27 - See Minutes of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Committee II, Vol. III, meeting of 19 July 1949, p. 61.
28 - See section D.3.
29 - ICRC, Minutes of the Plenary Session of the Assembly, Doc. ACICR, A PV PL, 7 April 1960; ICRC, Press Release No. 696, 1 July 1960.
30 - For more information, see section H.
31 - Additional Protocol I, Article 33(3).
32 - For instance, the two provisions of Additional Protocol I referring to the Agency (Articles 33(3) and 78(3)) use the expression ‘the Central Tracing Agency of the International Committee of the Red Cross’ (emphasis added). In addition, Article 5(2)(e) of the 1986 Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement provide that it is the role of the ICRC ‘to ensure the operation of the Central Tracing Agency as provided in the Geneva Conventions’.
33 - For more information on these bureaux, see the commentary on Article 122.
34 - On the functional personality of international organizations, see ICJ, Reparation for Injuries Suffered in the Service of the United Nations, Advisory Opinion, 1949, p. 174. In terms of legal status, the ICRC is neither a classic international organization, nor a typical non-governmental organization. It is an international organization of a non-governmental nature. It enjoys both international legal personality, as well as privileges and immunities in both the international and domestic legal orders. For more details, see Els Debuf, ‘Tools to do the job: The ICRC’s legal status, privileges and immunities’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 97, No. 897/898, February 2016, pp. 319–344, especially at 320–329.
35 - Humanitarian activities are all activities that ‘prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found’ and the purpose of which is to ‘protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being’. See the commentaries on Article 3, para. 848, and on Article 9, para. 1321.
36 - On the definition of neutral countries, see the commentary on Article 4, section J.2.d.
37 - For further information, see Jean S. Pictet, Commentary on the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, ICRC, Geneva, 1979.
38 - The notion of official channels includes, for example, the detaining authorities (when the Convention does not require that the information, such as that regarding internment cards or on the missing, pass through the bureaux) or the national authorities responsible for maintaining the official registers and records of persons deprived of their liberty under Article 17 of the 2006 Convention on Enforced Disappearance. At regional level, the same obligation is found in Article XI of the 1994 Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance.
39 - See e.g. Australia, Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, 2006, para. 9.107; Belgium, Law of Armed Conflict Training Manual, 2009, p. 5; Burundi, Regulation on International Humanitarian Law, 2008, p. 104; Cameroon, Disciplinary Regulations, 2007, Article 33; Canada, LOAC Manual, 2001, p. 10-7, para. 1031, and p. 10-8, para. 1036, and Prisoner of War Handling Manual, 2004, paras 107.2 and 3F13.2; France, LOAC Manual, 2012, pp. 28–29; Germany, Military Manual, 1992, paras 538 and 708, and Military Manual, 2013, para. 517; Madagascar, Military Manual, 1994, p. 78; Peru, IHL Manual, 2004, paras 25(b)(5), 85(a)–(e) and 101(d), and IHL and Human Rights Manual, 2010, paras 76(d) and 26(b)(4); Philippines, LOAC Teaching File, 2006, paras 9-7 and 11-7; Senegal, IHL Manual, 1999, p. 15; Sri Lanka, Military Manual, 2003, para. 1513; Switzerland, Basic Military Manual, 1987, Articles 114–116; Turkey, LOAC Manual, 2001, p. 67; United Kingdom, Military Manual, 1958, para. 269, and Joint Doctrine Captured Persons, 2015, pp. 7-7–7-8, para. 712, and pp. 10-32–10-33, para. 1060; and United States, Army Regulation on Enemy Prisoners, Retained Personnel, Civilian Internees and Other Detainees, 1997, para. 1-7(f), and Law of War Manual, 2016, pp. 637–638, para. 9.31.3 and 9.31.4.
40 - See e.g. Agreement on the Military Aspects of the Peace Settlement annexed to the Dayton Accords (1995), Article XI. See also Agreement between Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the Exchange of Prisoners (1991), para. 3; Arrangement for the Transfer of Detainees between the Canadian Forces and the Ministry of Defence of Afghanistan (2005), Articles 7 and 9; and Memorandum of Understanding between the United Kingdom and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan concerning transfer by UK Forces to Afghan Authorities of Persons Detained in Afghanistan (2005), para. 5.1.
41 - See UN Secretary-General’s Bulletin (1999), section 8(a). Section 9.8 of the Bulletin further provides: ‘The United Nations force shall respect the right of the families to know about the fate of their sick, wounded and deceased relatives. To this end, [UN forces] shall facilitate the work of the ICRC Central Tracing Agency.’
42 - ICRC, Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its Activities during the Second World War, p. 35.
43 - ICRC visits to and registration of detainees provide powerful means of preventing their disappearance. For more details on ICRC visits to prisoners of war, see the commentary on Article 126.
44 - First Convention, Articles 16 and 17, and Second Convention, Articles 19 and 20: namely, designation of the Power on which the person depends; army, regimental, personal or serial number; surname; first name or names; date of birth; any other particulars shown on the identity card or disc; date and place of capture or death; and particulars concerning wounds or illness, or cause of death. This would include the exact location and markings of the graves, together with particulars of the dead interred therein.
45 - Article 122(5) and (6). For those who are seriously sick or seriously wounded, the information should be obtained regularly, every week if possible.
46 - Article 17(1): namely, surname, first names, rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number, or failing this, equivalent information.
47 - Article 30(4), to avoid the problem encountered during the First World War whereby certificates were sometimes confiscated.
48 - Article 54(2).
49 - Article 68(2).
50 - Article 70.
51 - Articles 71 and 74(2). For example, during the conflict between India and Pakistan in 1971, the Agency forwarded 15 million family messages to and from prisoners of war.
52 - Article 77(1), confirming the practice developed during the Second World War.
53 - Article 120(1). In practice, the Agency also takes care of the transmission of death certificates, a model of which is annexed to the Convention, as well as lists of graves and the particulars of the prisoners of war interred in cemeteries and elsewhere.
54 - See Article 33(3) of Additional Protocol I, which extends the Agency’s tracing work to all persons who have gone missing in connection with an international armed conflict.
55 - See the commentary on Article 119, para. 4503.
56 - See the commentary on Article 119, para. 4518.
57 - See the commentary on Article 121, para. 4668.
58 - On which, see the commentary on Article 122, section E.1.d.
59 - See section D.3.
60 - See the commentary on Article 17, para. 1797. It is indeed because of the possible consequences of such information that it was not included in the list of information a prisoner of war needed to provide.
61 - For the rationale for this difference, see para. 4816 of this commentary.
62 - The Agency does not, however, have an obligation to transmit the additional information that it has itself gathered.
63 - See also Petrig, p. 268; Sassòli, pp. 268 and 342; and Weill, p. 1017.
64 - See Article 78(3) of Additional Protocol I, which provides for the obligation of the Party to establish a child card in cases of evacuation containing listed information ‘whenever possible, and whenever it involves no risk of harm to the child’. See also European Court of Human Rights, Hassan v. UK, Judgment, 2014, para. 20, (‘In the absence of consent, [the UK official responsible for the Prisoners of War Office] considered it unlikely that the ICRC would have informed the Iraqi authorities and that those authorities would, in turn, have informed the Hassan family.’)
65 - See the commentaries on Article 16 of the First Convention, para. 1596, and on Article 19 of the Second Convention, para. 1773.
66 - On which, see the commentary on Article 122, section E.1.d.
67 - For more details, see the commentary on Article 122, section F.5.
68 - Article 122(7).
69 - Article 122(7).
70 - See also see Howard S. Levie, Prisoners of War in International Armed Conflict, International Law Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Vol. 59, 1978, pp. 157–158.
71 - Article 33(3) of Additional Protocol I assigns the role of centralization of information on missing persons to the Agency.
72 - For all Parties by the Agency, for protected persons of the adverse Party by national information bureaux.
73 - Additional Protocol I, Article 33(3).
74 - Article 126.
75 - See Articles 9 and 123(4).
76 - See also the commentary on Article 71, para. 3218.
77 - For example, the exchanges between the Agency and the UK Prisoner of War Information Bureau during the conflict in Iraq took place electronically via a secure website: see European Court of Human Rights, Hassan v. UK, Judgment, 2014, para. 20. See also the commentary on Article 122, section E.1.e.
78 - See para. 4814 of this commentary.
79 - Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-A, p. 299.
80 - See also Universal Postal Convention (1874), Article 7.
81 - Article 75.
82 - Provided these bags bear visible external marks of their character and contain only documents or articles intended for official use. This practice is inspired by the Conventions on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and of its Specialized Agencies of 1946 and 1947, respectively, and is based on the provisions found in Headquarters Agreements the ICRC concludes with the authorities of the territories in which it operates.
83 - For more information, see Đjurović, pp. 124–125, and the commentary on Article 124, section C.3.
84 - During the Second World War, the Swiss federal broadcasting authorities and Radio Genève granted the ICRC use of all the technical installations required (studio and equipment, telephone lines and transmitters) free of charge for the ICRC’s programmes: see ICRC, Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its Activities during the Second World War, p. 83. From 1 May 1945 to 30 June 1947, the ICRC’s special broadcasts totalled 4,868 hours, during which some 570,000 names were read out; ibid. p. 85.
85 - See World Radiocommunication Conference, Istanbul, 2000, Res. 10 (Rev.WRC-2000), Use of two-way wireless telecommunications by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
86 - See para. 4815 of this commentary.
87 - Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War (1929), Article 79, third paragraph.
88 - Article 9
89 - See Articles 56(2), 72(3), 73(3), 75, 79, 81(4), 123, 125(3), 126(4) and Annex II (‘Regulations concerning mixed medical commissions’)
90 - See Article 125, which states that such relief societies should receive from the Detaining Powers all necessary facilities ‘for visiting the prisoners, distributing relief supplies and material, from any source, intended for religious, educational or recreative purposes, and for assisting them in organizing their leisure time within the camps’.
91 - Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (1987), Article 5(2)(e).
92 - Statutes of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Article 4(1)(e).
93 - See Restoring Family Links Strategy of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, adopted by Resolution 4 of the 2007 Council of Delegates, along with its implementation plan 2008–2018, and Restoring Family Links: Strategy for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement 2020–2025, adopted by Resolution 6 of the December 2019 Council of Delegates.
94 - See, most recently, 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 2019, Res. 4, Restoring Family Links while respecting privacy, including as it relates to personal data protection. The resolution recalls the importance of the Restoring Family Links services of the components of the Movement and the cooperation between them and States in this field (preamble); recognizes the utmost importance of ensuring that the processing and transfer of personal data between the components of the Movement remain ‘as unrestricted as possible’ (para. 9); recognizes that the collection, retention and processing of personal data by any component of the Movement in the performance of RLF services should be ‘for purposes that are compatible with the exclusively humanitarian nature of its mandate’ (para. 10); and urges States and the Movement ‘to cooperate to ensure that personal data is not requested or used for purposes incompatible with the humanitarian nature of the work of the Movement (para. 11).
95 - See e.g. 25th International Conference of the Red Cross, Geneva, 1986, Res. XVI, The role of the Central Tracing Agency and National Societies in tracing activities and the reuniting of families, and 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 1995, Res. 2, Protection of the civilian population in period of armed conflict, section D (With regard to the reunification of families). See also Restoring Family Links Strategy of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, adopted by Resolution 4 of the 2007 Council of Delegates, along with its implementation plan 2008–2018, and Restoring Family Links: Strategy for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement 2020–2025, adopted by Resolution 6 of the December 2019 Council of Delegates.
96 - For a good example of such partnerships, see Violène Dogny, ‘Cooperation between the ICRC and the tracing services of the newly independent States of the former Soviet Union’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 38, No. 323, June 1998, pp. 205–214.