International forum for mass grave victim identification

London, London
Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The venue for this event is The Royal College of Pathologists
 2 Carlton House Terrace is the home of the Royal College of  Pathologists, a professional membership organisation, concerned with all matters relating to the  science and practice of pathology.

Carlton House Terrace was constructed largely between 1826  and 1829 and it remains the property of the Queen.   Its balconies overlook the Mall in central London where Buckingham Palace stands

This is a Euroscicon Small Conference,  an outline of the day can be found at

International forum for mass grave victim identification
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 09:00 - 17:00

The Royal College of Pathologists
2 Carlton House Terrace
United Kingdom

Map and Directions

The 2013 Inaugural International Forum will comprise of expert talks and plenty of networking opportunities

This event  has CPD accreditation and is part of the Forensic Forums 2013 series –

Meeting chair
Roland Wessling
Director of Operations, Inforce Foundation
Research Fellow in Forensic Archaeology & Anthropology, Cranfield University, UK .html


Talks include

The Diplomacy of Mass Grave Investigations - Operating in Post Conflict Zones
Roland Wessling, Cranfield University, UK
Mass fatalities, such as genocide, mass murder or other crimes against humanity, always leave a countries or regions in a state of post-conflict devastation and often lead to the existence of mass graves. When a certain level of normality has been established and the crucial three criteria a) security, b) political will and c) funding, is in place, the mass fatality can be investigated. Alongside the criminal investigation, forensic teams can support the legal cases by excavating graves, which also assists the humanitarian effort of repatriating the victims. These forensic investigations are often carried out by international or at least foreign teams. And they have to operate in a country or region, in which most of the reasons for the previous conflict are still present. The absence of war does not mean piece!

Human identification: the judicial and humanitarian pathways
Roxana Ferllini, Coordinator Forensic Archaeological Science programme Institute of Archaeology, University College London
The investigation of human rights abuses is multi-faceted, with a principal objective remaining, among other goals, positive identifications of the victims. Approaches which are selected during the said process may vary, depending upon the nature of the enquiry in question; that is, some being formally arranged in preparation for judicial proceedings, whilst others, due to historical and political contexts, remaining within the context of a more direct humanitarian approach without legal ramifications.
The dead are always here: mass grave victims as social actors
Caroline Bennett, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent
Mass graves are often assumed to be negative spaces and the bodies they contain to be victims in need of individual identification and repatriation or reconciliation of one form or another.  However, local concepts of the graves the bodies they contain vary dramatically even within the same country.  Drawing on fieldwork from Iraq and Cambodia, this talk will explore local perceptions of mass graves and the bodies they contain, and ultimately ask the question: where does identity lie and who is investigation really for?

Reassociation and Identification of commingles remains from secondary mass graves in Bosnia-Herzegovia
Kerry-Ann Milic, Anglia Ruskin University, UK.  
Iraqi genocide DNA program activated by ‘SON OF BABYLON’ film pressure
Isabelle Stead, Human film /Iraq's missing campaign
The film ‘Son of Babylon’ raised international awareness of the 1 million + people who remain missing and unidentified in Iraq following 40 years of conflict. Film Producer and Iraq’s Missing Campaign founder Isabelle Stead will discuss how the film and it's associated campaign was the catalyst for a full governmental review of Iraq’s mass graves and paved the way for The Ministry of Human Rights in Iraq and The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to begin a 3 year DNA-lead identification pilot scheme of Iraq’s missing people.

Systems for Mass Grave Identification: understanding, addressing and resolving complex issues
Mr Ian Hanson, International Commission on Missing Persons, Sarajevo
The complexity of identifying the missing relies on several key elements with interrelated objectives which need to operate in tandem to provide success outcomes: Investigations need political agreement and planning support and financing. Planning requires knowledge and understanding of processes and implications of work. The investigation process requires a legislative framework in which to operate. Legal processes require evidence of events to undertake prosecutions. Physical evidence is required to provide data for identifications. Families wish for their loved ones remains, justice and the opportunity to be fully engaged in determining the fate of the missing. Investigations have been hampered by not addressing some of these elements. ICMP provides support for effective identification systems while addressing social and political issues related to missing persons in the wake of conflict or natural disaster.

About the chair

Roland Wessling first read physics for two years at Hamburg University, followed by archaeology, law and soil sciences for another two years. He came to the UK in 1996 to read BSc Archaeological Sciences at Sheffield, and finally MSc Forensic Archaeology at Bournemouth. Since then he has worked as a consultant for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (UN ICTY), as well as on domestic criminal cases in Germany and the UK. He has been deployed on forensic operations in Cyprus and Iraq for the Inforce Foundation and was one of the Senior Archaeologists of the excavation of 250 Soldiers from WWI in Fromelles, France, in 2009.  Roland is one of the authors and an editor of the Cox, et al., 2007, The Scientific Investigation of Mass Graves: Towards Protocols and Standard Operating Procedures, New York: CUP. He is currently employed by Cranfield University as a part-time Research Fellow in Forensic Archaeology & Anthropology, teaching on the Forensic MSc Programme.


About the Speakers

Caroline Bennett'research examines the lived spaces of mass graves, exploring the everyday interactions and relationships related to these places, including perceptions of excavation, and the intersection of international, national, and local discourses on the subject.  In doing so she questions many assumptions existing about mass graves and their victims, including the assumed need for investigation and formal reconciliation.  Prior to beginning her PhD Caroline worked as a forensic anthropologist in the US, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq on criminal and mass grave investigations.

Kerry-Ann Milic,   previously held the position of Senior Forensic Anthropologist/Deputy Mortuary Manager with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Bosnia-Herzegovina where she spent five years assisting in the identification of victims from secondary mass graves following the Srebrenica genocide (1995).

Kerry-Ann is on the council for the British Association for Human Identification (BAHID), is Chair of the Student Development Committee of the British Association of Forensic Anthropologists (BAFA) and is a first responder for Kenyon Worldwide Disaster Management and UKDVI.  Currently working towards a PhD concentrating on population specific standards and multifactorial age estimation in the Bosnian male population.

Roxana Ferllini, lectures in Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK. She has participated as a forensic anthropologist within police criminal investigations in the UK and Costa Rica; mass disaster interventions in Costa Rica, El Salvador, UK and Spain. Additionally, she has been involved in international human rights investigations in Rwanda, the Balkans, the Armenian genocide,  and the investigation of missing casualties resulting from the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent Franco regime in Spain. Her publications include journal articles and books, including the edited volume "Forensic Archaeology and Human Rights Violations".


Ian Hanson is Deputy Director of Forensic Sciences for Archaeology and Anthropology at ICMP. He has over 16,000 hours of professional experience globally in the field, including 15 years of practice on mass graves. An archaeologist since 1994, he manages excavations, undertaking training and capacity building, and running MSc courses as senior lecturer at Bournemouth University. He directs and develops processes and integration of disciplines to provide support for legal and identification investigation. He is a Member of the Institute for Archaeologists and the Forensic Archaeology Expert Panel. He is a member of The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) and an Expert for the National Crime Agency.


Isabelle Stead,  is the Co-founder of the multi-award winning Human Film, a UK/Dutch feature film production company with an internationally-acclaimed back catalogue of features and shorts across the Middle East.  Following 5 years of working in Los Angeles in both independent films and the studio system, Isabelle, a Sundance fellow, returned to the UK to complete a Masters degree in Film Production and started work on several international co-productions that would become Human Film's first few feature films; Ahlaam, which represented Iraq for both Oscar and Golden Globe consideration in 2007, Iraq: War, Love, God and Madness and Son of Babylon, screening at the Sundance IFF and The 60th Berlin  International Film Festival picking up The Amnesty Film Award & The Peace Prize, along representing Iraq for Oscar Consideration 2011.  As a cornerstone of the marketing of Son of Babylon, Isabelle established The IRAQ‘S MISSING CAMPAIGN, an international landmark global campaign that is actively encouraging governments and the world's media to support the unearthing and identification of the victims of Saddam’s Mass Graves, a cause central to the story of Son of Babylon.

Keywords:  Forensic Anthropology, Anatomy, Identification, Identity, Emergent Identification Technologies,  DNA, collection, storage, transportation, computed tomography,  identification,conflict, diplomacy,post-conflict,logistics,reconciliation,dental, mortuary, pathology, Post Mortem, autopsy, anti-mortem, repatriation, DNA Profiling, Lineage markers, Ethics, AF447,Commingled remains, DNA,security,Mass fatalities, genocide, mass murder ,crimes against humanity,,post-conflict devastation,mass graves, security, political ,mass , criminal investigation, forensic teams , excavating graves, repatriating , mass graves, anthropology, Cambodia, Iraq,Positive identification, presumptive identification, judicial proceedings, humanitarian interventions, Srebrenica, commingled, reassociation, Iraq, Film, Genocide


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