On May 31, 2011, I attended a panel discussion at the United Nations marking the first meeting of State Parties to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. An enforced disappearance takes place when a person is arrested, detained, or abducted by the state or agents acting for the state, who then deny that the person is being held or conceal their whereabouts, placing them outside the protection of the law. In 2006, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances was adopted by the General Assembly of the UN after many years of hard work and commitment from relatives and loved ones of disappeared persons, NGOs, and governments. As of May 2011, twenty-five states have ratified the convention, however José Luis Díaz of Amnesty International voiced his concern for States that have not yet ratified it, and stressed the duty of States to deal with enforced disappearances.
The testimonies given by the panelists were moving and informative, and emphasized the critical need to address this issue. Estela Carlotto, President of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo spoke on the panel, and shared the story of her daughter who disappeared over thirty years ago. The first meeting of State Parties to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances was a joyous day for those involved, and organizations like GJC, that work on the legal enforcement of human rights treaties.