Law and volunteering in emergencies


While volunteers play a key role in emergency and disaster response and often operate in difficult circumstances, their legal protection often lacks clarity.

Even though the past decade has seen an increase in legislation relating to volunteering in general, specific issues that may arise in the context of emergencies have so far been addressed in a limited number of occasions.

In light of this gap, the IFRC has conducted a scoping study aimed at identifying the approaches adopted in different jurisdictions. On the basis of the pro bono assessments of legal issues made by law firms in Australia, Brazil, France, Indonesia and Qatar, the study illustrates different methods taken to protect volunteers in emergencies. The findings indicate that protection varies fairly from one country to another, and often results from a rather piecemeal approach.

These observations are meant to initiate analysis and discussions of the issues, and where appropriate may lead to changes in legislation or recall the need to better implement existing laws and policies.

For more information on the scoping study please email: (at)

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