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Call for Contributions: Symposium on Enforced Disappearances


The year 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) and the 40th anniversary of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID).

On this occasion, Völkerrechtsblog is holding an online symposium in December 2020.

The crime of enforced disappearance is a particularly appalling violation of human rights affecting not only the disappeared person but society as a whole. Often considered as a phenomenon of the past, enforced disappearances are in fact still widespread in all regions of the world and often used as a political tool of repression and intimidation. Nevertheless, only 63 States have ratified the Convention.

This symposium proposes to explore this widespread, yet under-theorised human rights violation and its various legal aspects. The aim is to provide the perspective of victims, activists as well as legal experts from different regions of the world. It aims to shed light on the case-law of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED-Committee), which receives complaints regarding State Parties of the ICPPED and is the youngest UN treaty body. The symposium also wants to highlight the role of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), which has competence over all States of the UN and is providing valuable guidance for 40 years.

The phenomenon of enforced disappearances often comes with other human rights violations and is of particular concern in the context of detention, migration, and emergency situations like counter-terrorism or the current pandemic. Several legal questions arise in this area of international human rights law.
What is the scope of the protection from enforced disappearances? What is the purpose of subjecting persons to enforced disappearance? What are the obligations of States, particularly regarding the prevention and investigation of disappearances? Who are the persons fighting against the impunity of this crimes? How should enforced disappearances be best litigated, how can protected rights be enforced?

We invite contributions on all aspects of enforced disappearances, with a special interest in the questions raised. We welcome contributions from all backgrounds (victims, legal practitioners, academics, activists) and are particularly interested in the perspective of persons from regions where disappearances are widespread. Contributions should be around 1000-1500 words long, and are welcome in English, French, or German (please consider our directions for authors). Please send us your texts or inquiries at before 20 November 2020.


Publication: December 2020
Deadline: 20 November 2020
Form: about 10 blogposts to different aspects, each 1000-1500 words

Justine Batura

Justine Batura is a Research Assistant in International Law and a Law Clerk (‘Rechtsreferendarin’) at the Higher Court Berlin. She is an editor at Völkerrechtsblog.

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Nesa Zimmermann

Nesa Zimmermann is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Geneva and Co-director of the Law Clinic for the Rights of Vulnerable Persons. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Geneva, a LL.M. from King’s College, London, and a MLaw from the University of Neuchâtel. Her fields of expertise include human rights law, migration law and constitutional law. Completed in 2020, her Ph.D. analyses particular aspects vulnerability-reasoning in the caselaw of the ECtHR. She is an editor at Völkerrechtsblog.

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