Disappeared persons.

  • Author: UN General Assembly (33rd sess. : 1978-1979)
  • Document source:
  • Date:
    20 December 1978

173. Disappeared persons

The General Assembly, Recalling the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,[1] in particular articles 3, 5, 9, 10 and 11 concerning, inter alia, the right to life, liberty and security of person, freedom from torture, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, and the right to a fair and public trial, and the provisions of articles 6, 7, 9 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[2] which define and establish safeguards for certain of these rights, Deeply concerned by reports from various parts of the world relating to enforced or involuntary disappearances of persons as a result of excesses on the part of law enforcement or security authorities or similar organizations, often while such persons are subject to detention or imprisonment, as well as of unlawful actions or widespread violence, Concerned also at reports of difficulties in obtaining reliable information from competent authorities as to the circumstances of such persons, including reports of the persistent refusal of such authorities or organizations to acknowledge that they hold such persons in their custody or otherwise to account for them, Mindful of the danger to the life, liberty and physical security of such persons arising from the persistent failure of these authorities or organizations to acknowledge that such persons are held in custody or otherwise to account for them, Deeply moved by the anguish and sorrow which such circumstances cause to the relatives of disappeared persons, especially to spouses, children and parents,

1. Calls upon Governments:

(a) In the event of reports of enforced or involuntary disappearances, to devote appropriate resources to searching for such persons and to undertake speedy and impartial investigations;

(b) To ensure that law enforcement and security authorities or organizations are fully accountable, especially in law, in the discharge of their duties, such accountability to include legal responsibility for unjustifiable excesses which might lead to enforced or involuntary disappearances and to other violations of human rights;

(c) To ensure that the human rights of all persons, including those subjected to any form of detention and imprisonment, are fully respected;

(d) To co-operate with other Governments, relevant United Nations organs, specialized agencies, intergovernmental organizations and humanitarian bodies in a common effort to search for, locate or account for such persons in the event of reports of enforced or involuntary disappearances;

2. Requests the Commission on Human Rights consider the question of disappeared persons with view to making appropriate recommendations;

3. Urges the Secretary-General to continue his good offices in cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances of persons, drawing, as appropriation upon the relevant experience of the International Committee of the Red Cross and of other humanitarian organizations;

4. Requests the Secretary-General to draw the concerns expressed in the present resolution of all Governments, regional and organizations and specialized agencies for the purposes of conveying on an urgent basis the need for disinterested humanitarian action to respond to the situation, of persons who have disappeared.

90th plenary meeting
20 December 1978

[1] Resolution 217 A (III). [2] Resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.

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