By María Mercedes Martínez
On June 25th, representatives from 22 National Red Cross Societies from the Americas met in Panama to create the Movement’s first regional network focused on disaster law. The network will promote communication, knowledge sharing and exchange of experiences between National Societies active in disaster law advocacy and will help them to provide expert advice to their governments.
“National Red Cross Societies are many-handed creatures,” noted Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross President Delia Chatoor, “we provide direct help to affected people but we are also advocates for their well-being. We can help our governments bridge the gap between law and realty at the community level.”
“We felt that we needed a technical space to share diverse expertises in disaster law in order to improve our influence on public policy and the auxiliary role of the National Societies,” added Hugo Cabueñas, National Coordinator for the Ecuadoran Red Cross’ Programme on Fundamental Principles and Humanitarian Values.
The Colombian, Mexican and Canadian Red Cross Societies agreed to serve as pro-tempore coordinators of the network, in order to prepare drafts of the terms of reference as well as a plan of action for the group.
“The Americas Disaster Law Advocacy Network represents a great achievement for the region,” said Xavier Castellanos, Director of the IFRC’s Americas Zone Office. “It shows that our members are really committed to giving their governments the best possible advice on legal preparedness for disasters.”
Any National Societies in the region interested in participating in the network are invited to contact Maria Martinez.