The fact that so many people go missing every year not only represents a humanitarian tragedy for families but can also have long lasting effects on efforts to rebuild trust and address grievances in societies. Further it undermines peace building efforts and development prospects. More and more complex environments such as protracted conflicts, a multitude of armed groups as well as large-scale migration lead to an increase in the number of missing persons.

Disappearances are a global phenomenon that has a devastating, long-lasting impact on families, communities and whole societies. When a loved one goes missing, uncertainty about her/his fate can lead to severe psychological trauma in her/his family. Moreover, in a number of countries, relatives of the missing face substantial legal and administrative hurdles to claim an inheritance, receive benefits or remarry.

Equally important, the issue of missing persons has also implications on peace building processes. The disappearance of community members often hampers reconciliation efforts for decades. In order to come to a closure with the past, a community or society needs to know the fate of their missing members.

Switzerland aims to strengthen preventive efforts so that people do not go missing in the first place, and is engaged to improve the search for the missing and to restore family links.

Global Alliance for the Missing

On the 150-year Anniversary of the Central Tracing Agency on 11 May 2021, ICRC and Switzerland launched the Global Alliance for the Missing:

Preventing and responding to cases of missing persons requires political will, adequate and effective legal and institutional frameworks, cooperation between states and with other actors, and partnerships to enhance knowledge and technical capacity. To this effect, Switzerland and the ICRC launched a Global Alliance for the Missing. The purpose of the Alliance is to bring to bear the collective diplomatic, political and financial capacity and influence of states to improve the prevention of, and the response to, cases of separated and missing persons.


Collectively, the Alliance endeavors to:

  • Raise awareness on the question of missing persons globally and regionally, including in its humanitarian and human rights dimensions and develop linkages with peacebuilding, conflict prevention and sustainable development agendas.
  • Promote the implementation of global commitments relating to missing persons, such as UN Security Council Resolution 2474 (2019) on "Missing Persons in Armed Conflict".
  • Promote collaboration and share best practices, guidance and technical recommendations to improve the prevention of, and response to, cases of missing persons at national, regional and global levels.

Global Alliance for the Missing (IRC)

150-year Anniversary of the Central Tracing Agency

Global Alliance for the Missing (PDF, 2 Pages, 205.6 kB, English)

Last update 01.02.2024


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