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This page shows examples of how the Convention can already be used in practice.

The full strength and effect of the Convention will become clear after widespread ratification, the entry into force and the functioning of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances.

But even before the entry into force the Convention can already be used in cases  of enforced disappearances, in particular towards States that have already signed and ratified the Convention. Even though the Convention has no legally binding status yet and there is no monitoring body, many States have agreed to abide by the provisions by joining the consensus at the Human Rights Council, co-sponsoring at the General Assembly (103 States) or even stronger, signing and ratifying the Convention.

Organizations can already use the Convention in recent but also for older cases of enforced disappearances, for instance by making references to the relevant provisions of the Convention.


Human Rights Watch - On July 17, 2009 Human Rights Watch published a statement on 5 secretly detained people in Uganda. The definition of the Convention is used to strenghten their appeal. Link to the statement on HRW website

Amnesty International - On July 23 2008 Amnesty International published the report Denying the Undeniable, about enforced disappearances in Pakistan. IN the report Amnesty not only recommends the Pakistan government to ratify the convention it also refers to the definition of the convention and the fact that prohibition of enforced disappearances is a rule in customary international law.

Enforced disappearance is defined in Article 2 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which the UN General Assembly adopted in December 2006, as: the arrest, detention, abduction, or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the state or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of the state, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law. The Convention will come into force when 20 states have ratified it. At time of writing, 72 states have signed and four have ratified. In May 2008, Pakistan stated that it would accede to it. However, even without ratifying or acceding to the Convention, Pakistan is still bound by the prohibition of enforced disappearances which is a rule of customary international law. Pakistan should follow the standards set out in the 1992 UN General Assembly's Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, which, although a non-binding standard, reflects the consensus of the international community against this type of human rights violation and provides authoritative guidance as to the safeguards that must be implemented in order to prevent it. Beyond being human rights violations as such, acts of enforced disappearances violate a range of other human rights, including freedom from arbitrary detention, the right to recognition as a person before the law, and the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Acts of enforced disappearance also violate several provisions of Pakistan’s Constitution, including freedom from arbitrary detention, the right to judicial overview of detentions and to human dignity, and the prohibition of torture, as well as constituting criminal offences. (Amnesty International, Denying the Undeniable: Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan, Index: ASA 33/018/2008, Amnesty International July 2008)

Human Rights Watch - On February 26 2008 HRW stated in a press release regarding recent disappearances in Chad that it is "concerned that the two men are victims of enforced disappearance. The International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, which Chad signed on February 6, 2006, defines an enforced disappearance as...."

Amnesty International - On March 2008 in an article on secret CIA detention Amnesty summed up several recommendations, one of which calls on the U.S. Administration, who have not yet signed the Convention: 'In view of evidence that Khaled al-Maqtari was the victim of an enforced disappearance, the US authorities should initiate prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into the allegations by a competent and independent state authority, as set out in Article 12 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and Article 13 of the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.'

Human Rights Watch - On March 2008 HRW several times refers to the Convention, in the article 'Recurring Nightmare', the state responsibility for disappearances and abduction in Sri Lanka. For example, HRW states that Article 3 of the International Convention against Enforced Disappearances calls on states to investigate abductions and other acts that fall into the definition of a “disappearance” committed by non-state actors and to bring those responsible to justice. Read more...