The Disaster Law Programme seeks to reduce human vulnerability by promoting legal preparedness for disasters. Previously known as the International Disaster Response Laws, Rules and Principles (IDRL) Programme, the Programme has now broadened its focus to cover legal issues related to disaster risk reduction and recovery.
Legal gaps in disaster risk reduction can have a significant impact on the resilience of communities to disasters. Similarly, experience shows that without the appropriate legal instruments to deal with disaster response, authorities can be overwhelmed by relief operations and vital aid can be delayed. The Disaster Law Programme contributes to more effective disaster preparedness and getting relief to vulnerable people faster.
The IDRL Programme was created in 2001 by a resolution of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Council of Delegates in order to explore the role of law in the response to disasters, particularly international disaster relief.
In 2003, the 28th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent welcomed the IDRL Programme’s work and called on the IFRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to identify and share key legal instruments, lead efforts to identify gap areas and make recommendations to address them.
In 2007, on the basis of the IFRC’s recommendation, the 30th International Conference adopted a new set of “Guidelines for the domestic facilitation and regulation of international disaster relief and initial recovery assistance.” It also invited the IFRC and National Societies to continue their research and advocacy efforts. In addition, the conference encouraged them to develop new tools and models to improve their legal preparedness for disasters.
In 2011, the 31st International Conference welcomed the important progress made in implementing the IDRL Guidelines, and furthermore called on states to examine and strengthen their national legal frameworks and consider making use of the IDRL Guidelines. The International Conference welcomed the efforts to develop a “Model Act for the Facilitation and Regulation of International Disaster Relief and Initial Recovery Assistance” to assist states in incorporating the recommendations of the IDRL Guidelines into their national law. It also encouraged states, in cooperation with National Societies, the IFRC and other relevant partners, to review their national legislation in order to assess whether they adequately address a number of listed issues regarding disaster risk reduction at community level and regulatory barriers to shelter after natural disasters. The Programme changed its name in early 2012 to the "Disaster Law Programme", to reflect its evolving focus.
The Disaster Law Programme works in three areas:
1. Technical Assistance
Collaborating with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other partners to assist governments in strengthening their domestic legal preparedness for disasters.
2. Capacity Building
Building the capacity of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to advise their governments on the development of disaster management law.
3. Advocacy, dissemination and research
Building partnerships at the international and regional level on legal preparedness, disseminating the IDRL Guidelines and fostering new and innovative research.