While forensic medical tasks are usually associated with supporting the criminal justice system, there are a range of forensic medical skills that can be brought to bear on addressing humanitarian activities. Disaster victim identification is a procedure that has achieved international standardisation through the work of a multinational Interpol Standing Committee. While part of a police organisation, it includes forensic pathologists, anthropologists, odontologists and molecular biologists who provide most of the specialist scientific input regarding identification that is integrated with police processes such as document examination and fingerprinting. The loss of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 represented a major activation of these procedures in an environment that had both humanitarian and forensic criminal investigation components. The information that is derived from the processes involved in disaster victim identification has a value that goes far beyond the determination of identity. It has an important humanitarian role in supporting the family and friends of the victims in their bereavement journey.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.