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Using forensic science to care for the dead and search for the missing: In conversation with Dr Morris Tidball-Binz

Forensic Manager of the Missing Persons Project, ICRC

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 October 2018

Abstract

Dr Morris Tidball-Binz is a forensic doctor who joined the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 2004 and has since worked for the organization in numerous contexts, helping to develop its novel forensic capacity. Having begun his career with forensic and human rights organizations, he helped pioneer in his native South America the application of forensic science to human rights investigations, particularly the search for the disappeared. He helped create the ICRC's Forensic Unit, of which he was the first Director until early 2017; he then headed the forensic operation for the Humanitarian Project Plan. He is currently the Forensic Manager for the ICRC's new Missing Persons Project. He spoke with the Review to share his insights on the development of humanitarian forensic action and its role in protecting the dead and clarifying the fate of missing persons.

Type
Identifying the dead
Copyright
Copyright © icrc 2018 

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Footnotes

Dr Morris Tidball-Binz dedicates this interview to the memory of María Isabel Chorobik de Mariani, founder and first president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, who passed away on 20 August 2018 aged 94. She was a true visionary, who saw the value of forensic science for the search for the missing and promoted the first investigations of this kind in the world.

This interview was conducted in Geneva on 16 January 2018 by Ellen Policinski, Managing Editor, and Jovana Kuzmanovic, Thematic Editor at the Review.

**

The term “Falkland/Malvinas Islands” does not imply official endorsement or the expression of any opinion whatsoever concerning the legal status of that territory, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Both names are used together, and are presented in alphabetical order.

References

1 See Cordner, Stephen and Tidball-Binz, Morris, “Humanitarian Forensic Action – Its Origins and Future”, Forensic Science International, Vol. 279, 2017CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 See Gamarnik, Cora, “Imágenes de la post-dictadura Argentina”, Artelogie, No. 7, 2015CrossRefGoogle Scholar, available at: (all internet references were accessed in May 2018).

3 For more on the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, see the interview with Estela de Carlotto in this issue of the Review. Also see: .

4 Jorge Luis Berra, Norberto Liwski, Diana Grinspon and Morris Tidball-Binz, “A National Bank for Genetic Data of Disappeared Children in Argentina: Task Up to 2050”, Advances in Forensic Haemogenetics series, 1986, available at: .

5 See “Historia del BNDG”, available at: .

6 See the official webpage of the EAAF, available at: .

7 See, for example, Forrest, Duncan, Knight, Bernard and Tidball-Binz, Morris, “The Documentation of Torture”, in A Glimpse of Hell: Reports on Torture Worldwide, Cassell, London, 1996Google Scholar.

8 Tidball-Binz, Morris, “Forensic Investigation of Alleged War Crime near Vukovar”, The Lancet, Vol. 341, 1993, p. 625CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Henri Dunant visited and comforted the wounded brought to Paris and introduced the wearing of a badge so that the dead could be identified. See ICRC, “Henry Dunant (1828–1910)”, available at: .

10 Independent Forensic Experts Group, “Statement on Virginity Testing”, Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, Vol. 33, 2015Google Scholar, available at: .

11 For more on this, see the article by Pauline Boss in this issue of the Review.

12 See ICRC, “Libya: Helping Identify the Dead”, News Release, 14 September 2011, available at: .

13 See Ayat Basma and Avida Landau, “Hezbollah Delivers Remains of Two Israeli Soldiers”, Reuters, 16 July 2008, available at: . See also Petrig, Anna, “The War Dead and Their Gravesites”, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 91, No. 874, 2009CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14 “11 bodies handed over in Colombia probe”, Reuters, 9 September 2007, available at: .

15 Editor's note: These obligations can be found in Geneva Convention I (GC I), Arts 15–17; Additional Protocol I (AP I), Arts 32, 34; Additional Protocol Additional II, Art. 8 (regarding search for and collection of bodies).

16 Editor's note: See GC I, Art. 16; Geneva Convention II, Art. 19; Geneva Convention III, Art. 122; Geneva Convention IV, Art. 139; AP I, Art. 34(2)(c).

17 The ICRC's Forensic Advisory Board was established in 2010 to offer advice to the organization on complex forensic matters which might arise in relation to humanitarian activities. It is composed of nearly thirty renowned forensic scientists from around the world who represent several disciplines and offer their advice on a voluntary basis.

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