The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (Disappearances Convention) now needs just two more ratifications to become binding after Burkina Faso and Chile became the 17th and 18th states to ratify it last week.
The Disappearances Convention will give those searching for their loved ones new legal tools to seek justice.
"These latest ratifications make the entry into force of the Convention by the end of 2009 a concrete possibility. We call on all states which have not ratified it already to do so as soon as possible," said Christopher Keith Hall, Senior Legal Adviser at Amnesty International.
"We are pleased that Chile also made the declarations required to recognize the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances to receive and consider communications from individuals and states. All states that have ratified or intend to ratify the treaty must make such declarations.
Amnesty International has campaigned for over a quarter of a century for a convention to prevent and combat enforced disappearances worldwide.
"The Committee will offer a new avenue to pursue cases of enforced disappearance, which will be particularly important in countries where the authorities fail to meet their obligations to investigate and prosecute these violations," said Christopher Keith Hall.
Enforced disappearances are on the rise worldwide and there are a growing number of reports of harassment, ill-treatment and intimidation of witnesses and relatives of persons who have disappeared.
The Disappearances Convention aims to establish the truth about enforced disappearances, punish perpetrators and provide reparations to victims and their families.
"Victims of enforced disappearances and their families have waited far too long. If the international community acts swiftly, 2009 could finally bring them a new tool to search for their loved ones and obtain justice." said Christopher Keith Hall.