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Last Rights

Creating a new framework of respect for the rights of missing & dead refugees, migrants and bereaved family members

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The Mytilini Declaration

The Mytilini Declaration for the Dignified Treatment of all Missing and Deceased Persons and their Families as a Consequence of Migrant Journeys

On the 11 May 2018, following two days of discussions between experts from across the world, the Mytilini Declaration was agreed. We believe this is a landmark in establishing the rights of and duties toward all those who experience suffering because of the death or disappearance of their loved ones as a result of migrant journeys and we now call upon all countries and international bodies to ensure that these rights are respected and that the standards contained in the Declaration are implemented as a matter of urgency.

Here are the GreekFrench, German, Spanish, Arabic, Turkish and Italian language versions. The English language version is the version that was agreed at the expert drafting meeting and prevails in the event of any differences arising.

Catriona Jarvis and Syd Bolton the co-conveners of the project are available for interview and comments by email and telephone.


The electronic consultation on the draft protocols, which closed on 30 March 2018, was followed by a two-day meeting of a working group of international experts on the 10 and 11 May 2018, held on the Greek island of Lesbos (where most of the refugees and migrants arrived in 2015, as well as many before and since, and where many have died), attended by delegates from Lesbos and around the world who brought to bear upon the draft document both their theoretical knowledge and practical skills and experience to hone the content. Included among the delegates (some of whom were speakers) were representatives able to speak for affected migrant and refugee groups, as well as the local community, since it is key that all voices be heard. Indeed, representatives from all sections have been participating in the reference group from the early days.

On day two, the revised version was presented in plenary to permit final discussion prior to adoption and signature (entirely optional), in protocol form, of what is titled ‘The Mytilini Declaration.’ It is intended that the Declaration be a tool that will be commended to all relevant bodies and persons, requesting that they give serious consideration to the adoption of such a tool and put it into practice without delay. The aim is to create a protocol that will not, if at all possible, necessitate primary legislative changes. Sitting behind the Declaration will be other papers previously prepared as well as the wealth of material gleaned from the consultations and discussions, from which an Explanatory Note will be created to accompany the Declaration prior to final wider circulation.


The Mytilini Declaration, although based upon and springing from legal theory, social and legal research, and humanitarian practice, will be, above all, a practical tool that will enable all actors to perform their tasks in ways that meet best practice and deliver respect for substantive rights to the missing, the dead and their bereaved families, assisting the bereaved to continue with their lives, at the same time enabling respectful and appropriate treatment of local populations. It goes without saying that it is in the interests of good government and in the general public interest that all these matters are dealt with respectfully, in accordance with the law.

The Declaration and Explanatory Note as well as other relevant documents will be made available online and all interested researchers and other readers, as well as institutions will have access to these.

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