by Christina Vasala-Kokkinaki
On November 30th, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) signed a new agreement to strengthen their cooperation on IDRL.
During a plenary session of the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the two agencies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to formalize and extend their many areas of collaboration in promoting legal preparedness for international disaster assistance.
Signing on behalf of OCHA, John Ging, Director of Operations, underlined the importance of appropriate legislation to ensure that, when international aid is available, it can be directed to the people in need. He affirmed OCHA's continuing support for the IFRC's International Disaster Response Laws, Rules and Principles (IDRL) Programme.
Matthias Schmale, Under-Secretary General for Programme Services of the IFRC, emphasized the important leadership role of OCHA in strengthening the systems of coordination and information-sharing and remarked that OCHA was a natural partner for the Federation in bringing the IDRL issues to international attention. Mr. Schmale noted the growing ad hoc cooperation between the two agencies, referring in paticular to the participation of the IFRC in “preparedness missions” of the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams and the development of a pilot “Model Act on the Facilitation and Regulation of International Disaster Relief and Initial Recovery Assistance”.
The MoU sets out the parties' intention to extend their cooperation on IDRL, both at field and headquarters levels, including through "joint activities to promote dissemination, implementation and strengthening of international norms and best practice in domestic law concerning international response."