Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances
30 August

Secretary-General's Message for 2014

The enforced disappearance of individuals by States constitutes an unacceptable violation of human rights. Acts tantamount to enforced disappearance of individuals by armed and terrorist groups also constitutes a gross abuse of human rights. This abhorrent practice places people outside the protection of the law, and thus potentially in great danger of physical violence and sometimes barbaric execution. In addition to causing unimaginable worry and anguish for the victims and their loved ones, this creates a generalized climate of fear and terror across entire societies.

Enforced disappearance was once employed mainly by military dictatorships. Increasingly it has become a tool of many States around the world -- some operating under counter-terror strategies, or fighting organized crime, and others seeking to quash dissent and human rights activism.

On this solemn day, I reiterate in the strongest possible terms that under international law, no one should be kept in secret detention. Any person deprived of his or her liberty must be held safely in officially recognized and supervised locations that observe the rule of law. States should provide full information about the whereabouts of persons who have been disappeared. And they must effectively implement the right to the truth, justice and reparation for all victims and their families. Enforced disappearance is a practice that cannot be tolerated in the 21st Century.

To date, the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which entered into force in December 2010, has been signed by 93 States and ratified by 43. It provides a sound foundation for fighting impunity, protecting disappeared persons and their families and strengthening the guarantees provided by the rule of law -- including investigation, justice and redress.

I urge all Member States to sign and ratify the Convention without delay. It is time for the universal ratification of the Convention and a final end to all enforced disappearances.

Ban Ki-moon

UN Web Services Section, Department of Public Information, © United Nations