United States of America
Practice Relating to Rule 117. Accounting for Missing Persons
Section A. Search for missing persons
The US National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (2009) provides for the following authorization:
Sec. 541. Additional Requirements for Accounting for Members of the Armed Forces and Department of Defense Civilian Employees Listed as Missing in Conflicts Occurring Before Enactment of New System for Accounting for Missing Persons
(a) IMPOSITION OF ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS.—Section 1509 of title 10, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
“§ 1509. Program to resolve pre-enactment missing person cases
“(a) PROGRAM REQUIRED; COVERED CONFLICTS.—The Secretary of Defense shall implement a comprehensive, coordinated, integrated, and fully resourced program to account for persons described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 1513(1) of this title who are unaccounted for from the following conflicts:
“(1) World War II during the period beginning on December 7, 1941, and ending on December 31, 1946, including members of the armed forces who were lost during flight operations in the Pacific theater of operations covered by section 576 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000 (Public Law 106–65; 10 U.S.C. 1501 note).
“(2) The Cold War during the period beginning on September 2, 1945, and ending on August 21, 1991.
“(3) The Korean War during the period beginning on June 27, 1950, and ending on January 31, 1955.
“(4) The Indochina War era during the period beginning on July 8, 1959, and ending on May 15, 1975.
“(5) The Persian Gulf War during the period beginning on August 2, 1990, and ending on February 28, 1991.
“(6) Such other conflicts in which members of the armed forces served as the Secretary of Defense may designate.
‘‘(c) TREATMENT AS MISSING PERSONS.—Each unaccounted for person covered by subsection (a) shall be considered to be a missing person for purposes of the applicability of other provisions of this chapter to the person.
In 1987, the Deputy Legal Adviser of the US Department of State affirmed: “We support the principle that … each party to a conflict should search areas under its control for persons reported missing, when circumstances permit, and at the latest from the end of active hostilities.”
In 1995, during a debate in the UN Security Council concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United States stated, with respect to the civilians missing and unaccounted for: “We have a responsibility to investigate, to find out what we can.”