Practice Relating to Rule 117. Accounting for Missing Persons
Its [i.e. an amendment’s] purpose was to remedy an omission, namely the absence of any reference to families, and to call the attention of all representatives – legal experts, politicians, doctors and soldiers – and their States to the suffering caused to families as a result of armed conflicts. It was not only separation, but anxiety, uncertainty and lack of news for months, or even years, in the case of both families and prisoners. It was not merely a question of feelings but one of respect for a fundamental right which had never been officially recognized and which was often overlooked. Indeed, in some countries the fate of certain civilians was deliberately kept secret. Unless specific mention was made of families, the bureaucrats dealing with the present provision would recognize only the technical, not the humanitarian, aspect of the problem.