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The Tripartite Commission:

After the end of hostilities for the Liberation of Kuwait, on February 28th 1991, the ICRC and other humanitarian agencies were allowed into Kuwait to carry out their tasks. Following UN Security Council Resolution 686 of the 2nd of March 1991, a special committee was created under ICRC auspices to co-ordinate swift repatriation of POWs in both directions. Firstly known as the ‘Riyadh Committee’, it was later referred to as the 'Tripartite Commission' because members of the commission consisted of the allied Coalition (France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) on one side and Iraq on the other, under ICRC auspices and chairmanship as a third party.

Following the Riyadh meetings of March 1991, a number of POWs were handed over to the ICRC by both sides. Others were freed by insurrectionists in Southern Iraq during the turmoil that followed the Liberation of Kuwait. Some 6,000 Kuwaiti POWs found their way home through these channels.

When it became evident that many persons had not yet returned, as reported by their families, a specific “Plan of Action” was adopted for the repatriation of mortal remains along with tracing of POWs and civilian detainees unaccounted for (12 April 1991).

While Kuwaiti authorities concentrated their efforts on drawing up reliable and documented individual files in compliance with that Plan, the former Iraqi regime hampered the work of the Tripartite Commission by boycotting meetings for more than two years (from the end of 1991 to mid-1994).

When the former Iraqi regime resumed participation in the meetings of the Tripartite Commission in July 1994, Kuwaiti authorities had already submitted more than 600 individual files (including 14 Saudi, 5 Egyptian, 4 Iranian, 4 Syrian, 3 Lebanese, one Oman, one Bahraini and one Indian citizen) well documented with a multitude of eye-witness testimonies and official arrest records.

The Tripartite Commission then concentrated on the creation of a Technical Sub-Committee in charge of accelerating the search process by meeting at least once a month in the Gulf area. This sub-committee was founded in December 1994 and held meetings with participation of the former Iraqi regime, mostly on the border between Kuwait and Iraq.

Unfortunately all those meetings had failed to produce expected results. Up to the fall of the Iraqi regime, 605 Kuwaiti and third country nationals were still unreleased or unaccounted for.