U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell Attends ICMP Board Meeting

Commission Marks a Year of Strategic Accomplishments

Washington, District of Columbia, UNITED STATES


WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2002 (PRIMEZONE) -- (WITH PHOTO) Capping 12 months of unprecedented progress in the identification of the missing and building diplomatic ties throughout the former Yugoslavia, the International Commission on Missing Persons was commended for its work today by U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

"You (ICMP) have built relationships with families as well as governments, to bring closure as well as justice," Secretary Powell told ICMP's Chairman James V. Kimsey and Commissioners during their annual meeting today in Washington. "The Commission has created a capacity that goes well beyond Bosnia and Herzegovina. ICMP has my support as long as it takes."

ICMP, established in 1996 by the G-7 Summit in Lyon, France, addresses the cases of the estimated 40,000 persons who remain missing throughout the Balkans as a result of the conflicts of the 1990s. The Commission is recognized as the global leader in the field of DNA-assisted identification, employing the world's foremost experts in forensic science.

"ICMP has achieved great strides over the past 12 months, moving ahead in all three major programs of the Commission. This has been made possible in large part by the support of the United States, the Netherlands, and other nations that have contributed financial and diplomatic resources," said Mr. Kimsey. "Our challenge now is to translate that progress into lasting change in the Balkans and throughout the world."

The Commission's Forensic Sciences Program has made significant progress, achieving both its first (November 16, 2001) and one thousandth (October 4, 2002) in-country DNA identifications. Earlier this year, ICMP's forensic science team developed a new DNA profiling technique, allowing nuclear DNA to be extracted from the smallest bone or tissue fragments for the first time. The Centralized Identification System of inter-dependent laboratories incorporates and trains scientists in the region under a multi-ethnic umbrella, allowing ICMP to remain a neutral organization in a politically charged landscape. To date, ICMP has built and/or renovated five DNA laboratories throughout the Balkans.

In the last 12 months, ICMP's Government Relations Program has expanded its official scope beyond Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), signing agreements of cooperation with the governments of Serbia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and Republic of Croatia (RoC), and has accepted an invitation from Macedonia to establish an ICMP operation there.

Led by Chairman James V. Kimsey, Chairman Emeritus of AOL, the Commission Board members include Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan; Former Minister of Defence of Great Britain Rt. Hon. Michael Portillo; Former Foreign Minister of Denmark Uffe Ellemann-Jensen; and Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands Willem Kok.

The United States has been a primary supporter of ICMP, through both diplomatic and financial support, since its inception in 1996. The governments of the Netherlands, Great Britain, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Iceland, Holy See (the Vatican), Sweden and Finland, as well as the United Nations, have also contributed to ICMP.

ICMP was created in 1996 at the G-7 Summit, in Lyon, France. Its primary objectives include: to intensify government efforts to release information on the missing; to assist in building a regional capacity to accelerate the process of recovery and identification of mortal remains that incorporates the use of state-of-the-art DNA technology; and to strengthen the capability of associations of families of missing persons to address the issue. The current chairman of ICMP is Mr. James V. Kimsey. Mr. Kimsey is the Founding CEO and Chairman Emeritus of America Online Inc (AOL), as well as a Philanthropist and Vietnam War veteran.

A photo accompanying this release is available at the following link: http://media.primezone.com/prs/?pkgid=252



        

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