Remarks at a Third Committee Interactive Dialogue with the Chair of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

Edward Heartney
U.S. Counselor to the Economic and Social Section
New York, New York
October 16, 2023


Thank you, Chair. The United States thanks the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances for its work.

We stand in solidarity with those who have been subjected to the anguish of separation from their families, friends, and communities and urge those responsible for enforced or involuntary disappearances to immediately cease this practice, disclose information about the victims to their loved ones, and either release the victims unconditionally or return the remains of those who have tragically lost their lives.

We call on the Assad regime to clarify the fate and whereabouts of the at least 96,000 individuals, including thousands of women and children, who remain forcibly disappeared, according to reports.

We call on the PRC to disclose the whereabouts of those forcibly disappeared and to immediately and unconditionally release all those arbitrarily detained.

We call on the DPRK to immediately resolve the issues of abductees, detainees, and unrepatriated prisoners of war.

We renew our call on Laos to ensure authorities investigate and resolve the unresolved disappearance of Lao civil society leader, Sombath Somphone. We further urge the Lao government to clarify the whereabouts of Chinese national and human rights lawyer Lu Siwei.

We reiterate our continued concerns about Russia’s unjust detentions and forced relocations of Ukrainian citizens, including children, in the course of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine. We call on Russia’s authorities to disclose the whereabout of those persons, along with those disappeared or abducted within Russia.

Question: What additional steps can the international community take to address Russia’s abduction of Ukrainian children?

I thank you.