Press releases, 11.05.2021

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Central Tracing Agency (CTA) of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and State Secretary Livia Leu have paid tribute to the indispensable work carried out by the CTA and pledged Switzerland's continued support to it.

The search for missing persons must be coordinated and improved worldwide. This concern is at the heart of the CTA's work. To mark the CTA's 150th anniversary, Switzerland and the ICRC jointly organised a hybrid event today at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva.

ICRC President Peter Maurer and State Secretary Livia Leu participated in person. High-ranking representatives of several states and humanitarian and international organisations also participated online, including UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

The head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis delivered an address by video. In his address, Mr Cassis paid tribute to the important humanitarian work carried out by the CTA and pledged Switzerland's support to it. Mr Cassis expressed his admiration for the fact that the CTA and the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are able to find two missing persons every hour and reunite 22 families separated by armed conflict, violence, migration or natural disasters every day, on average.

Political will and cooperation are essential
The CTA was founded in Basel in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War. Its history is closely linked to Switzerland's humanitarian commitment to people in need. With the Geneva Conventions, the international community gave the CTA a legal mandate. "The search for missing persons is just as relevant today as it was 150 years ago," said Cassis. Hundreds of thousands of people go missing each year worldwide.

When people go missing, this has profound consequences not only for the families directly concerned, but often also for a country's long-term social stability and peacebuilding efforts. In her remarks, State Secretary Livia Leu noted that states' political will and cooperation with each other and with the CTA are critical to success when searching for missing persons. Switzerland will further strengthen its cooperation with the CTA.

Further information:

Event page
The Central Tracing Agency
Missing persons
Swiss Red Cross Tracing Service (de, fr, it)
Finding missing people and bringing them home strengthens society and builds peace

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Communication service: +41 58 462 31 53
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Last update 19.07.2023

  • FDFA Communication answers media queries Mondays to Fridays during office hours and operates a weekend emergency on-call service.


FDFA Communication

Federal Palace West
3003 Bern

Phone (for journalists only):
+41 58 460 55 55

Phone (for all other requests):
+41 58 462 31 53

Start of page