Carnegie Mellon University
Background Material

Background Material

Guidelines, Manuals and Reports

American Association of Blood Banks, “Guidelines for Mass Fatality DNA Identification Operations.” 2010.

DNA Commission of the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG). “Recommendations Regarding the Role of Forensic Genetics for Disaster Victim Identification (DVI).” 2009.

Inter-Agency Standing Committee. “Protecting Persons Affected by Natural Disasters: IASC Operational Guidelines on Human Rights and Natural Disasters.” 2006.

International Committee of the Red Cross. “ICRC Report: The Missing and Their Families.” 19 Feb 2003.

International Committee of the Red Cross. “Guiding Principles/Model Law on the Missing. Principles for Legislating the Situation of Persons Missing as a Result of Armed Conflict or Internal Violence.” Feb 2009.

International Commitee of the Red Cross. “Missing People, DNA Analysis and Identification of Human Remains: A Guide to Best Practices in Armed Conflicts and Other Situations of Armed Violence.” 2009.

International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Interpol Disaster Victim Identification Guide, 2009.

Interpol Tsunami Evaluation Working Group. “The DVI Response to the South East Asian Tsunami between December 2004 and February 2006.” 2010.

Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Application of the Law on Missing Persons of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Guide for Families of Missing Persons” 2006.

National Institute of Justice, “Lessons Learned From 9/11: DNA Identification in Mass Fatality Incidents.” President’s DNA Initiative. September 2006.

Scientific Working Group for Forensic Anthropology (SWGANTH), “Code of Ethics and Conduct,” June 1, 2010.

Providing Relief to Families After a Mass Fatality: Roles of the Medical Examiner’s Office and the Family Assistance Center
Resource for a variety of mass fatality family assistance and victim identification concerns.  Areas addressed include:
  • Primary issues and concerns of the victims' families
  • Examples of a State/Federal partnerships for victim assistance services in a Medical Examiner's office
  • Lessons learned about what is helpful when working with victims' families
  • Family Assistance Center operations and resources, including a summary of procedural considerations.
  • Formulating a Crisis Response Plan, including long-term crisis response plans.
Management of Dead Bodies in Disaster Situations
Comprehensive guide to a variety of mass fatality issues, including preparedness for mass death response, medicolegal work, health considerations in mass fatalities, sociocultural issues, psychological aspects, legal concepts, and several case studies from recent South and Central American disasters.

Improving procedures and minimizing distress issues in the identification of victims following disasters
“Reflecting on previous and current practices and experiences, this article draws on the procedures followed in the UK when establishing the identity of victims following disasters and highlights the differing needs, interests and issues arising for both professionals and the bereaved.”

Other Relevant Readings

Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team. EAAF Annual Report, “Special Section: The Right to Truth.” 2002.

Blau, Soren. “The Powerful Evidence of the Bodies: Ethical Considerations for the Forensic Anthropologist Involved in the Investigation of Mass Graves.” VIFM Review 6.1 (2008): 2-7.

Crettol, Monique and Anne-Marie La Rosa, “The Missing and Transitional Justice: The Right to Know and the Fight against Impunity,” International Review of the Red Cross, Volume 88 Number 862 June 2006.

Doretti, Mercedes, and Luis Fondebrider. “Science and Human Rights: Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation: A Long Way in Third World Countries.” Archaeologies of the Contemporary Past. Ed. Victor Buchli & Gavin Lucas. London: Routledge, 2001. 138–144.

Klinkner, Melanie. “Forensic Science for Cambodian Justice.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 2.2 (2008) : 227-43.

Disaster Myths that Just Won’t Die
Overview of some issues related to family assistance and dealing with large number of fatalities.
Fierro, Marcella F.  “Mass Murder in a University Setting: Analysis of the Medical Examiner's Response.”
Abstract: “A retrospective review of the medical examiner system response to this multiple fatality event was undertaken to identify which procedures were and were not effective. Case records, spreadsheets, telephone call logs, notes, and after-action interviews of staff were reviewed and analyzed. Recommendations were developed to improve the management of the multiple components of a high-profile multiple fatality event.”

Robins, Simon. “Towards Victim-Centred Transitional Justice: Understanding the Needs of Families of the Disappeared in Postconflict Nepal.” The International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (2011) : 75-98.

Rosenblatt., Adam "International Forensic Investigations and the Human Rights of the Dead." Human Rights Quarterly 32.4 (2010): 921-950.

Tidball-Binz, Morris, “Managing the dead in catastrophes: guiding principles and practical recommendations for first responders,” International Review of the Red Cross, Volume 89 Number 866 June 2007.