Central American Heads of State call for new regional instrument on disaster cooperation

Published: 28 June 2013 10:20 CET

By María Mercedes Martínez

On June 27, at the 41st Summit of Heads of State and Government of the member states of the Central American Integration System (SICA) in San Jose, the top leaders of eight countries took an important step forward in the development of disaster law in the region.  Their "Declaration of San Jose" instructs Central American Coordination Centre for the Prevention of Disasters (CEPREDENAC) together with the Secretary General of SICA and the Secretariat of Central American Economic Integration (SIEC) to begin work on "a regional instrument for the facilitation and regulation of the international humanitarian assitsance in disasters."  The Declaration further calls on authorities in member states to "take steps to comprehensively update their national legislation on the facilition of the reception, tansit and provision of regional and international assistance in situtaions of disaster."

This step followed on recommendations developed by over 70 representatives from disaster managemen agencies, Red Cross Societies, UN agencies andother partners at the Regional Meeting on the Movement of International Humanitarian Assistance convened by CEPREDENAC, WFP and IFRC on 6-8 May in Panama City.  

In addition to its recommendations take up at the San Jose summit, the meeting produced a set of action plans (six national plans and one regional plan) to strengthen the Regional Mechanism for Humanitarian Assistance among Central American countries and to improve the efficiency of international disaster response. The plans were developed by participants through a review of existing global, regional and national instruments, laws, protocols and norms related to the movement of humanitarian assistance in response to disasters. The plans were endorsed by high-level authorities from the six participating states, who joined the meeting on the third day.