Guiding principles for the search for disappeared persons


The guiding principles for the search for disappeared persons are based on the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and other relevant international instruments. They also take into account the experience of other international bodies and various countries around the world. They identify mechanisms, procedures and methods for carrying out the legal duty to search for disappeared persons.
These guiding principles seek to consolidate good practices in searching effectively for disappeared persons, arising from States’ obligation to search. They have been developed on the basis of the accumulated experience of the Committee over its first eight years, in particular in its concluding observations (article 29) and urgent actions (article 30). The guiding principles were developed in dialogue and broad consultation with many victims’ organizations, civil society, experts, intergovernmental organizations and States.


Guiding principles for the search for disappeared persons

  1. The search for a disappeared person should be conducted under the presumption that he or she is alive;
  2. The search should respect human dignity;
  3. The search should be governed by a public policy;
  4. The search should follow a differential approach;
  5. The search should respect the right to participation;
  6. The search should begin without delay;
  7. The search is a continuing obligation;
  8. The search should be conducted on the basis of a comprehensive strategy;
  9. The search should take into account the particular vulnerability of migrants;
  10. The search should be organized efficiently;
  11. The search should use information in an appropriate manner;
  12. The search should be coordinated;
  13. The search and the criminal investigation should be interrelated;
  14. The search should be carried out safely;
  15. The search should be independent and impartial;
  16. The search should be governed by public protocols.

Inputs received


UN & specialized agencies


  • NHRI Mexico (1-2-3)

Intergovernmental Organizations



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Country-specific information