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- The Anti-Disappearance Treaty 



- For Mothers of the Vanished

International Lobby

January 10, 2008

Embassy of France
Manila, Philippines

His Excellency Chesnel,

Warmest greetings!
As the year 2008 enters, we are profoundly grieved by the sad news about the untimely death of His Excellency Ambassador Bernard Kessedjian, former Chairperson of the then United Nations Inter-sessional Working Group to Elaborate a Draft Legally-binding Normative Instrument for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. 

The three-year negotiation process for the then draft treaty was triumphantly concluded in Room X11 of Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland through the late Ambassador’s excellent and very able leadership. His mastery of the subject matter, his photographic memory, his unparalled diplomatic skill to wield unity in the midst of the diversity of positions of various members of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights vis-a-vis the draft treaty and most of all, his heart for the families of the disappeared - all these contributed to bringing to a successful conclusion the whole drafting process and to the finalization of the text of the United Nations Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance on September 22, 2005. 

The last time we personally met him was on February 7, 2007 during the historic signing of the treaty against enforced disappearances by 57 governments.  The announcement of every government signifying its intention to sign the treaty was a hard-earned reward for his indefatigable struggle to give birth to the final text of the Convention which was adopted without a vote by the United Nations General Assembly on the 20th of December 2006 in New York. 

The death of His Excellency Ambassador Bernard Kessedjian, who championed the cause of the disappeared and their families, is indeed, a great loss to the international movement against enforced disappearances. The whole world, especially the families of the disappeared, terribly miss him - his commitment to the disappeared and their families, his extraordinary leadership ability and intelligence and his unequalled capacity to wield unity amidst conflicting positions of UN member-states and, lest we forget, his good sense of humor.  How could we ever thank him adequately for the great gift to humanity, i.e. the United Nations Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances he bestowed upon thousands upon thousands of families of the disappeared all over the world. No words can express totally our gratitude.

We express our sincerest condolences to the wife of the late His Excellency Bernard Kessedjian for the demise of a man who spent his life so that others may live. May she find comfort in his exemplary life and in the great legacy he leaves behind. We likewise condole with the government of France for the loss of a very dedicated and able Ambassador, colleague and friend. Our hearts literally ache and our tears shed profusely for the death of a man who leaves an indelible legacy to all the disappeared and their families worldwide.

May this great man, whom we shall never forget, rest in peace.  His memory will never be erased in our minds and in our hearts.

Our most humble yet concrete expression of gratitude to our beloved Ambassador Kessedjian is our never-ending struggle for the disappeared and their families. In the meantime, we vow to work doubly hard for the entry into force of the United Nations Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and its implementation in as many countries as possible. 

Kindly accept our heartfelt condolences and please convey our sympathies to the family of the late His Excellency Ambassador Bernard Kessedjian.

Thank you very much. More power!

Sincerely yours,

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances 

VOICE May 2008


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