Disasters can cause enormous human suffering and loss. But the right laws and policies can help keep communities safe and save lives.
Disasters can cause enormous human suffering and loss. But the right laws and policies can help keep communities safe and save lives.
Geneva, 30 March 2021 In response to a common call for an International Treaty on Pandemics by the WHO and world leaders today, Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies, said: “We are encouraged by this commitment from the WHO and world leaders today to develop a new treaty on pandemic prevention and response. The COVID-19 response has been hugely impaired by gaps in global cooperation and inequities affecting some of the most vulnerable of our societies. This treaty is an opportunity to address these for the next time. “We need bold new solutions – both in international and domestic laws – to avoid the same mistakes. These must include a firm commitment to preparedness at all levels of society, including at the community level, and equitable access to testing, vaccines and treatment for all at greatest risk. We must also ensure that health and emergency staff and volunteers are supported to operate safely to provide life-saving aid, and access communities in need. And we must guard against the economic ruin of the poorest and most vulnerable as a result of pandemic responses. “With our experience in supporting states to develop and implement disaster law and policy around the world, IFRC and its members stand ready to provide their expertise and advice to governments and to support such a treaty to not only be powerful on paper but transformative in reality.”
Disaster risk management (DRM) and governance in Nepal is in good hands – the hands of the communities and their local authorities who are most affected by disasters and climate change. In partnership with the Government of Nepal, Nepal Red Cross has developed the Nepal Municipal Risk Governance Assessment Tool, an easy-to-use checklist and self-assessment framework to support more risk-informed municipal regulations, policies and systems. The shift in power from central to local governance set by Nepal’s 2015 Constitution, and the resulting DRM act of 2017, gave full responsibility for disaster risk management policy and planning to the753 newly formed municipalities. Communities and local authorities welcomed the opportunity to have greater decision-making, but many felt overwhelmed by complex portfolios, including how to ensure a functioning governance system. As experts in community risk reduction and disaster management, Nepal Red Cross worked with communities and decision-makers to develop the governance tool, finding ways to systemise and coordinate the decentralisation and mainstreaming of climate-smart DRR at the community level. Community leaders will use the tool to assess their existing risk governance frameworks, identify gaps and weaknesses, and pinpoint where further investment is needed, including opportunities for mainstreaming DRR and DRM across different sectors, including development and financial planning. The assessment tool will be piloted in late 2020, before nationwide roll-out. Nepal Red Cross is a leader disaster law and policy, it has a long history working with the Government and development partners on international disaster response law, policy and governance, including the adoption of the 2017 DRRM law. Nepal Municipal Risk Governance Assessment Tool was supported through theZurichFlood Resilience Coalition.
Photo: Enia, pictured left, is registered at the first aid distribution following Cyclone Pam. Red Cross was the first organisation sanctioned by the Government of Vanuatu to begin relief distributions after a halt from the government due to an influx of uncoordinated international aid and assistance.The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Disaster Law Programme has worked in the Pacific since 2010, starting with the review of Vanuatu’s legal and policy framework for disasters in partnership with the Government of Vanuatu and Vanuatu Red Cross.When Tropical Cyclone Pam tore through Vanuatu in 2014, shortly after the review was finalised, Vanuatu issued its first-ever request for international assistance, to which the response was beyond expectation, and the country was flooded with uncoordinated aid and assistance. Described as a ‘wakeup call’ by the Government of Vanuatu for international disaster law legal reform, it was a catalyst for Vanuatu and the rest of the Pacific.An IFRC disaster law advisor was quickly deployed to support the government with regulatory barriers arising from the response, and in the weeks, months and years that followed, the journey to review, reform and operationalise laws and policy relating to disaster management began in Vanuatu. Since then, IFRC’s Disaster Law Programme has reached across the Pacific Ocean to work in fifteen Pacific countries.Today, we near the completion of the review of Fiji’s National Disaster Management Act in partnership with the Government of Fiji and Fiji Red Cross. This is a significant piece of work that will support the national disaster risk management system to be proactive and focused on disaster risk reduction, a shift from a traditional reactive, response-based model. The review includes the adoption of a cluster system, establishment of subnational administration, regulation of international aid, the strengthened role of a disaster service liaison officer and legal facilities for recognised NGOs and humanitarian organisation. Consultations for the review have been with diverse groups from across Fiji, ensuring that no one is left behind in legislation and in the decision-making process.IFRC’s Disaster Law Programme in the Pacific brings technical experience and expertise, but equally important is the unique way in which we work – long term programming, support that is localised and contextualised and coordination that brings everyone together.For countries like Vanuatu, where significant disaster law reform has been carried out, humanitarian responses are coordinated, effective, and locally-led, with aid getting to those that need it most – a must for the number one ranked disaster risk country in the world.As the only international organisation mandated to provide disaster law technical advice, there is an increasing demand for our support and a widened scope that includes protection and inclusion, displacement, climate change, holistic support to governments on risk governance, and now, COVID-19.Pacific communities are at the frontline of disasters and climate change, and with the arrival of COVID-19 to their shores, supporting governments to have effective disaster laws and well-functioning disaster risk management systems in place which can respond to a multitude of hazards, is crucial for a humanitarian structure that can save lives. 15 Pacific countries working with the Disaster Law Programme 15 disaster law research projects 14 countries with disaster law Influenced or in the process of influencing 10 Pacific governments currently engaging in disaster law processes
Photo: Red Cross has been involved in disaster law activities in Lao PDR since 2009 when research was undertaken on legal preparedness for responding to disasters and communicable disease emergencies. Due to an inherent link between climate change and disaster events, the Lao Government has decided to develop an integrated legal framework for disaster risk management and climate change, which would be one of the first of its kind in the region. Since 2013, IFRC and Lao Red Cross have been working with the UNDP and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment on the development of this law.The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Disaster Law Programme works across the diverse and vast region that is Asia, from Afghanistan to Japan, Mongolia to Timor Leste, providing disaster law technical support, capacity building, peer learning and research in 21 countries for more than 15 years.In Asia, the Disaster Law Programme focuses on countries with particularly high disaster risk and those who are actively developing or reviewing their disaster risk management legalisation. We have worked across Southeast Asia - Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines. We have worked extensively in Nepal following the 2015 earthquake, Mongolia, and recently in China, where a research report, International Disaster Response Law in China, has been under consideration by the Ministry of Emergency Management.Given the differences and diversity of the region, the Disaster Law Programme’s approach in Asia is not ‘one size fits all’. This tailored approach applies to who the programme works with, adapting to work in partnership with governments, national disaster management offices, Red Cross Red Crescent Societies and with regional bodies like ASEAN.The tailored approach also reflects the growing scope of the Disaster Law Programme and the needs of the countries– from response-based to underpinning all aspects of disaster risk management – risk reduction, preparedness for response and recovery, integration into resilience and also working to ensure community engagement in the disaster law process.In Mongolia, IFRC and Mongolia Red Cross have worked with the Government to revise disaster protection law through a contemporary approach to disaster management, moving the country from a reactive response paradigm to one which is proactive and works to prevent and reduce the risk of disasters on people, livestock and the environment. Mongolia is now putting concerted efforts into ensuring these new frameworks are implemented and well understood, particularly at the community level through a national awareness campaign with support from Red Cross.A common and important theme to our approach and outcome of the work in Asia is a shift to a more localised way of working, with disaster law processes and systems grounded in strong and nationally owned governance frameworks, and regional mechanisms. With countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan who have immense experience responding to frequent and intense disasters and emergencies, huge knowledge and expertise already exist in within the region.Effecting law and policy change requires a long-term investment and partnership. Having worked in the region for more than 15 years, we are now working with countries who are already in a position to review disaster management laws for a second time, following the learnings over time from large scale disasters and wanting to ensure that their governance frameworks are more responsive to current and emerging challenges like displacement, climate change and health hazards.Fifteen years on from our early work in Asia after the huge tsunami to hit the region in 2004, we are again working regionally as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic alongside National Societies, governments and communities to ensure all emergency preparedness and response efforts - whether it be for natural hazards, climate induced, or public health emergencies is underpinned by clear laws and regulations. 21 countries engaged with disaster law programme 18 countries with disaster law research projects 12 countries with disaster law influenced or in the process of influencing 9 countries with successfully influenced law change 7 governments currently engaged in disaster law processes
The Pacific region has weathered many storms and bears the brunt of the harsh reality of climate change. Despite this, Pacific people remain resilient and face new and emerging challenges with a sense of solidarity and ingenuity.So, when COVID-19 started knocking on the region’s door, the Pacific community knew they had to mobilise quickly and collectively to minimise and contain the threat caused by the virus. Like in other parts of the world, borders were closed, commercial travel all but ceased, and tourism dried up. As a collection of small island states dotted across a vast ocean, many highly dependent on imported food and with weak local health systems, the region was acutely aware that simply shutting its borders to the outside world was not going to be an option.In mid-April, Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers agreed to establish the “Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19 “(PHP-C)’. The pathway is a high-level, political mechanism to ensure regional coordination and will be available to member countries on request. It will expedite assistance and cooperation between Pacific countries in preparing for and responding to COVID-19. This includes facilitating the provision of timely and safe medical and humanitarian assistance from regional and international development partners, across the region. It may also be used for response to other emergencies that may arise during COVID-19.Although this arrangement was urgently developed due to COVID-19, initiatives in support of a Pacific mechanism for regional disaster and humanitarian response is not new. In fact, National Red Cross Societies and the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have been advocating for a formalised regional approach and supporting efforts towards this goal for the past five years.Through its recognised disaster law expertise, Red Cross has supported governments in the revision of disaster laws and policies in over half of all Pacific countries. This has included strengthening provisions for the coordination and facilitation of international humanitarian assistance in accordance with the international disaster response law (IDRL) guidelines. Earlier this year, the Pacific IDRL Online Platform was established, providing easily accessible information on the domestic rules and provisions for fast tracking international humanitarian aid across the 16 English-speaking Pacific Island countries. In addition, Red Cross also supported the development of draft Pacific guidelines for the coordination of regional and international assistance in 2015.These efforts have not gone unnoticed by Pacific governments and regional partners and can inform the governance arrangements in the roll-out of the Pacific humanitarian pathway.More importantly, Pacific Red Cross Societies are working around the clock in partnership with their governments to prevent transmission of the virus, help communities already affected by the outbreak to maintain access to basic social services, and reduce the economic, social and psychological impact on people.As witnessed recently when Cyclone Harold tore a destructive and deadly path through the region impacting multiple Pacific countries, climate-induced hazards will not wait for the pandemic to pass. Dame Meg Taylor, Head of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, has recognised the interconnectivity between the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change and made a rallying call to the global community to not become complacent about climate change as their attention shifts to the pandemic response. She points out that: “the COVID-19 public health emergency and its ensuing humanitarian and economic fallout offers us a glimpse of what the global climate change emergency can become - if it’s left unchecked and if we do not act now.”No country can tackle these complex issues alone. Regional and global solidarity is a must. However, solidarity alone is not enough – it needs to be backed by political will, strong leadership and clear rules of the road. The Pacific Humanitarian Pathway is a great example of this and provides an innovative regional model for countries to provide humanitarian support to each other in these unprecedented times. Red Cross is proud to play its part in such efforts and ensure that communities across the Pacific continue to remain resilient in the face of crisis.
The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act has been signed into law last March 23, 2020 to ramp up efforts to fight COVID-19, including social safety nets and PhilHealth medical assistance to health workers and volunteers who risk their own lives in order to save the lives of others. Government will provide emergency subsidy to around 18 million low income households, to ensure that families have access to food and other basic needs in light of the heavy economic cost of the pandemic. “Finally! The Senate has adopted our amendments. Kung kinaya ng ibang bansa na lampasan ang pandemic na ito, kaya rin natin. To the Filipino people – yes, we can and yes, we will. Fight we must, win we must!”, said PRC Chairman and Senator Richard Gordon via Facebook, referring to his crucial amendments to the law, paving way for the P100,000 safety net for each healthcare worker infected by COVID-19, and a P1 million allocation each for bereaved families of healthcare workers who pass away in the line of duty. To better address COVID-19, the legislation identifies Philippine Red Cross as a key partner of the government in the distribution of goods and services to prevent and respond to the effects of the pandemic. As “auxiliary” to the public authorities in the humanitarian field, the Philippine Red Cross, supported by its worldwide Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners, is mandated by the Philippine Red Cross Act (RA 10072) and international law to provide life-saving humanitarian aid, alleviating the suffering of people wherever they may be found. The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act emphasizes and strengthens this auxiliary role of the prime humanitarian volunteer organization in the country, to support and supplement government efforts in these challenging and volatile times. Even prior to the passage of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Philippine Red Cross staff and volunteers had been mobilizing resources and providing relief assistance and pandemic prevention kits to communities, through Red Cross Chapters in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. 1,137 liters of disinfectant solution had been donated to the Bulacan Red Cross Chapter, which it will then distribute to hospitals, barangay tanods, and other community frontliners. The Davao de Oro Red Cross Chapter provided tents to serve as 14-day quarantine facilities for some passengers traveling from other parts of the Philippines, with Compostela Red Cross Chapter providing beds and water, ensuring respect for human dignity in humanitarian aid. Philippine Red Cross Headquarters had also set up a 24/7-hour Red Cross hotline (1158) to address questions regarding COVID-19 symptoms and precautions, with volunteer doctors advising whether hospitalization may be required. Volunteer social workers also provide mental and psychosocial support to callers as part of Philippine Red Cross’ support to mental health. This helps decongest overwhelmed medical facilities by providing a first layer screening. There have been 128 calls received, the highest volume on March 24 after the new law was passed. There are currently 53 call center volunteers, and Philippine Red Cross welcomes more volunteers to serve the increasing volume of callers each day.
Pacific small island states are among the most exposed and vulnerable in the world to disaster and climate risk. In fact, five of the ten most at-risk countries are in the Pacific.Every year, tens of thousands of people across the region are pushed into poverty as a result of the impact of disasters and climate change. Better understanding and stronger governance, including law, policies and systems, for disaster and climate risk is the foundation of resilient and sustainable development.In this regard, Pacific small island states have led the world by adopting regional governance arrangements to strengthen risk-informed approach to national development, through the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific and more recently the Boe Declaration. Initially in terms of policy, and now increasingly in terms of legislation, Pacific small island states are looking at how to better integrate their approach to disaster and climate risk management to ensure more resilient development.To further this objective, a series of workshops and meetings were held for Pacific policy makers, disaster risk management practitioners including Red Cross, and development partners in October 2019. Key activities included the Pacific Resilience Partnership hosted workshop “legislating and policy making for climate smart DRM”, a pre youth forum and the first Pacific Resilience Partnership Technical Working Group on Risk Governance for Resilient Development was held.Full report of the meetings, including outcomes can be found here.
The seventh edition of the International Disaster Law Course will take place in San Remo, Italy, from 1 to 5 June 2020.The course is jointly organized by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Disaster Law Project, the Italian Red Cross and the EU Jean Monnet Project “Disseminating Disaster Law for Europe” Roma Tre University.The course on International Disaster Law will offer participants a unique opportunity to analyse one of today’s most important legal challenges: the prevention and management of natural and man-made disasters. Lectures will be delivered by distinguished speakers including Eduardo Valencia-Ospina (former Special Rapporteur of the ILC on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters and current ILC Member), Walter Kälin (Envoy to the Chair, Platform on Disaster Displacement, Former Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons) along with other high-level speakers from academia and distinguished experts from key stakeholders such as the IFRC and International Organization with a specific expertise on International Disaster Law.The programme seeks to offer a comprehensive overview of the main practical, diplomatic and military issues related to the legal aspects of disaster prevention and management activities. Topics will be covered using a plenary-based approach complemented by practical exercises designed to test the participants’ ability to find outcome-oriented solutions through the application of relevant IDL provisions. The course is tailored towards practitioners (e.g. staff of civil protection departments; staff of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies; NGOs) involved in disaster management; graduate and post-graduate students with an interest in International Disaster Law and Humanitarian issues; and professionals with an academic background in the areas of law, security studies, international relations, humanitarian assistance or other related fields, eager to expand their knowledge on International Disaster Law. A very small number of scholarships are available for the IDL course thanks to the generous support of the IFRC Disaster Law Programme and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development as detailed in the ‘General Information’ section.Click here for the flyer, programme and to register!
Disasters caused by natural and technological hazards are a commonplace phenomenon causing extensive negative impacts as exemplified by the World Disasters Report elaborated by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). According to this report, in the last decade around 770,000 deaths can be attributed to disasters, while 2 billion people have been affected and damages have amounted to US$1,65 trillion.On the occasion of the launch of the Yearbook of International Disaster Law (Brill, 2019) edited by Giulio Bartolini (Editor-in-Chief), Dug Cubie, Marlies Hesselmann and Jacqueline Peel, this panel will address current legal, policy and operational challenges raised by disasters for states, international organizations, NGOs and affected communities providing academic and stakeholders’ perspectives on the role of law in disasters.This panel is co-organized with the IFRC’s Disaster Law Programme and in cooperation with the Jean Monnet Project ‘Disseminating Disaster Law for Europe’ at Roma Tre University.INTRODUCTORY WORDS Marco Sassòli, Director, Geneva Academy, Professor of International Law, University of GenevaMODERATION Giulio Bartolini, Associate Professor of International Law, Roma Tre University, Editor-in-Chief of the Yearbook of International Disaster LawPANELISTS Gian Luca Burci, Adjunct Professor of International Law, Director of the Joint LLM in Global Health Law and Governance, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Dug Cubie, Lecturer, University College Cork, Editor of the Yearbook of International Disaster Law Isabelle Granger, Global Legislative Advocacy Coordinator, IFRC Walter Kaelin, Professor Emeritus for International and Constitutional Law, University of Bern, Envoy of the Chair of the Platform on Disaster Displacement Anne Saab, Assistant Professor in International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development StudiesRECEPTIONThe panel will be followed by a light reception offered by the IFRC’s Disaster Law Programme.More information on the event is available here.ABOUT THE BOOKThe aim of the Yearbook of International Disaster Law is to foster the interest of academics and practitioners on legal and institutional issues relevant to all forms of natural, technological/human-made disasters, including rapid and slow onset events. The Yearbook will primarily address the international law dimension of relevant topics, alongside important regional and national dimensions relevant for the further development of legal and policy initiatives. Papers related to the section ‘International Disaster Law in Practice’ are made available as open-access sources.
There is growing momentum in Asia Pacific towards regional approaches for disaster management and response. Many governments are increasingly seeing the value of working in collaboration and examining the possibility of revising governance frameworks and developing joint mechanisms to better support regional disaster preparedness and response. South Asia is no exception. In order to advance this approach, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Secretariat and the IFRC co-hosted the South Asian Forum on Preparedness for Regional Disaster Response from 4th to 6th November 2019 in Nepal. The forum had a specific focus on how states and partners can better work together to implement the SAARC Agreement on Rapid Response to Natural Disasters (SAARND). The SAARC Agreement is a regional treaty outlining arrangements for peer support and collaboration in times of disaster across the region. The agreement was signed in 2011 and ratified in 2016, however as of yet, there have not been any tangible steps to operationalise it. During the Forum, participants from Governments and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from South Asia, representatives from SAARC Secretariat, the UN System and IFRC met to discuss the current status of implementation, challenges and opportunities in implementation of the SAARND in their respective States. As part of this, they considered how to strengthen their domestic governance arrangements to support implementation of their regional commitments. The Forum closed with the adoption of the ‘Call for Action from the South Asia Forum on Preparedness for Regional Disaster Response for the Implementation of the SAARC Agreement on Rapid Response to Natural Disasters’ which outlined key measures to be worked on in partnership. The Red Cross and Red Crescent is committed to work with SAARC, its member states and partners across the region to strengthen regional cooperation for disaster preparedness and response.
TheMongolian disaster and climate legallandscape has taken big steps inthe last decade, including revision of Disaster protection law and establishment of disaster risk reduction councils nationwide. The2017 Disaster protection law and implementing regulations marks aparadigm shift from response to risk management. Mongolia is now putting concerted efforts into ensuring these new frameworks are implemented and well understood, particularly at the community level. Mongolian Red Cross Society, as auxiliary to the Mongolian government in disaster risk reduction, relief, response, recovery plays a critical role in this regard. Since mid-2019, the Red Cross has been working in partnership with Mongolia’sNational Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) at national and subnational level to develop and roll out a, “Disaster Law Dissemination – Know your 3Rs – Rights, Roles and Responsibilities”. The project aims to raise awareness and understanding of rights, roles and responsibilities of organisations and individuals to ensure effective DRM and compliance with the new frameworks throughout the country. So far, over 200 Local Emergency Management Agency (LEMA) and Red Cross Branch officers have been trained using the module, with more planned in 2020. The interactive training brings the law to life and uses a mixture of role plays, games and fun teaching aids to help raise awareness and support better implementation of the law. A video has also been created to support communication and advocacyefforts nationwide. Red Cross looks forward to continued work with communities, partners and government to ensure better awarenessand action on disaster and climate law in Mongolia!
Jakarta, 20-21 November 2019. The IFRC and AHA Centre organized a 2-day workshop on the “Management of International Assistance” for Southeast Asia governments and Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies (“NS”). It was the first collaboration between the IFRC Disaster Law Programme and AHA Centre, and the workshop was graced by Ms. Adelina Kamal (AHA Centre Executive Director), Mr. Joy Singhal (IFRC Myanmar Head of Country Office), Mr. Ky-Anh Nguyen (ASEC Director of Sustainable Development). The activity was generously supported by the governments of Switzerland, Germany and the Australian Red Cross.Three major disaster events that triggered the receipt of foreign international assistance in Myanmar (2015 nationwide flooding), Viet Nam (2017 Typhoon Damri), and Lao PDR (2018 floods in Attapeu and other provinces) have prompted officials from national disaster management offices, foreign affairs ministries, and national societies in Southeast Asia to sit down and talk about challenges and lessons learned from these disaster responses. Among those identified is the importance of clearly identifying the government office responsible for declaring the request for or acceptance of international assistance, which office/s may accept offers of international assistance, and establishing standard procedures for reaching such a decision. There was consensus that in the region practice leans towards accepting offers of international assistance rather than direct requests for such support by the disaster-affected state.Mr. Singhal emphasized that “as auxiliary to their public authorities in the humanitarian field, Red Cross Red Crescent NS with the support of IFRC are on hand to support their governments to strengthen their national preparedness, and facilitate dialogue between international actors and national authorities on how to better prepare together.” This includes support on strengthening national legal preparedness of international humanitarian assistance. Basic principles espoused by the IFRC Guidelines for the Domestic Facilitation and Regulation of International Disaster Relief and Initial Recovery Assistance, what is usually called International Disaster Response Law (“IDRL”), was shared by Ms. Pauline Caspellan, IFRC SEA Disaster Law Adviser. She emphasized that the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response perfectly embodies the IDRL principles, and is a model guide for states and NS not only in ASEAN but in other regions. Ms. Gabrielle Emery, IFRC AP Disaster Law Coordinator, presented the new Checklist on Domestic Preparedness and Response as well as the proposed resolution on “Climate Smart Disaster Laws and Policies That Leave No One Behind” which was adopted by states and national societies at the 33rd Red Cross and Red Crescent International Conference.The workshop was formally closed by Mr. Xavier Castellanos, IFRC AP Regional Director, and Ms. Kamal. Both IFRC and AHA Centre are keen to continue partnership on disaster law issues, and further discussions on the outcomes of the workshop are expected early next year in order to continue the momentum of strengthening domestic and regional legal preparedness for disasters in the ASEAN region.
Yearbook of International Disaster LawBrill/Nijhoff PublisherCall for AbstractsVol. No. 2 (2019) - Deadline for abstracts: 31st October 2019ABOUT THE YIDLThe Yearbook of International Disaster Law (YIDL) aims to foster the interest of academics and practitioners on legal and institutional issues relevant to all forms of natural, technological and human-made hazards, including rapid and slow onset disasters, but excluding events such as armed conflicts or political/financial crises per se.The goal is to provide a forum for innovative research contributing to the international legal and policy debate related to prevention, mitigation, response and recovery phases in disaster scenarios.The YIDL is a double-blind peer review journal published by Brill/Nijhoff and is available in printed and on-line form.STRUCTURE OF THE YIDL1. Thematic Section: this section includes articles focused on a specific topic. For Issue no. 2 the selected topic is “Disasters and…” in order to explore the intersection of disasters with other areas of international law and theoretical approaches.2. General Section: This section contains articles addressing any topic relevant in the area of international disaster law.3. International disaster law in practice: This section provides overviews and analysis on legal and institutional developments relevant for disaster scenarios, arranged according to international organisations, geographical areas and branches of international law.4. Bibliographical index and books reviews: this section contains a bibliographical index and reviews of books related to international disaster law published in the year in review.CALL FOR ABSTRACTSThe Editors welcome submissions of abstracts for the ‘Thematic’ and ‘General’ Sections on the basis of the selection process detailed below.We also welcome suggestions for books reviews of recently published books addressing any aspect of international disaster law.DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTSAbstracts for potential papers to be published in the ‘Thematic’ and ‘General’ articles’ sections of the YIDL shall be sent by 31st October 2019 at the e-mail address: [email protected] should be between 700-1,000 words.Authors are also kindly requested to attach a short curriculum vitae to their e-mail.SELECTION PROCESS OF ABSTRACTSThe selection process of submitted abstracts will be coordinated by the Editors of the YIDL and resultswill be communicated to applicants in mid-November 2019.Authors of selected abstracts must confirm that the paper they wish to submit has not been previouslypublished and is not currently under consideration for another Publication.DOUBLE-BLIND PEER-REVIEW PROCESSFull manuscripts (max. 10.000 words, footnotes included) are due by 15th March 2020.Papers will be subjected to a double-blind peer review process managed by the YIDL, before beingfinally accepted for publication. Authors shall take into account remarks received from reviewers in thefinal submitted version of their manuscript.LANGUAGEThe working language of the YIDL is UK English.Click here for Flyer Call for Abstracts Yearbook of International Disaster Law (Brill) Vol. No. 2
Saturday 24 August 2019 Disaster Management Building climate-smart disaster law frameworks for sustainable development The Disaster Response and Risk Management Department (DRDM) has proposed significant changes to the National Disaster Management Act 2014. The changes are outlined in the proposed Disaster Response and Risk and Management Bill 2018. It include provisions which cater for border protection, protection of critical facilities such as cultural heritage sites, humanitarian protection, civil-military coordination, obligation of persons to supply information, information gathering and analysis, request for international assistance, protection from liability, compensation for loss or injury suffered by public officers and power to take control of land or property during hazardous events, emergency or disaster among other provisions. These were tabled and discussed during a workshop organized by DRDM and the Red Cross Society of Seychelles with the collaboration and support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) headquarters, based in Nairobi, Kenya. The aim of the two-day workshop was to share progress in the field of disaster law over the past decade, equip authorities with knowledge of International disaster response law, and other disaster law tools, stimulate discussion on the content of the National Disaster Management Act 2014 and the Proposed Disaster Response and Risk and Management Bill 2018 amongst others. Trevor Louise, Principal Disaster Management Officer, DRDM revealed that the process of revising the Disaster Management Act started in 2018 and the draft document of the proposed amendments were forwarded earlier this year to the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Federation of Red Cross for comments and to assist with aligning the proposed Act to the SENDAI Framework. It is to be noted that the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action. It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. Louise notes that DRDM must make sure that Seychelles is in line with frameworks and other international norms thus the workshop. “We have new alignments which will be catering for people with special needs and that includes women, children and people with disabilities. When reviewing the law, we had to check on the conventions on the rights of children and women and the minimum standards and rights which all came into consideration as well as climate change adaptations,” explained Louise further adding that the new amendments are put in such a way that when delivering the Acts, the rights of those mentioned are not infringed or anyone else for that matter. He also noted that the previous Act did not necessarily pose challenge for DRDM in executing its mandate but rather the new amendments seek to review how they operate such that it is in accordance with national laws and international regulations. A presentation by Louise showed the proposed provisions are flexible and some of the benefits include powers of the department will be conferred to the “head of the department “and not to a specific position or person, as it is in the current Act, the roles of the department and other MDAs will be clearer and this will allow for better coordination between key stakeholders, the officers of the department and other first responders will be protected under the law from liability and also for any loss and/or injury suffered. The law will ensure that the respective MDAs will be more accountable and transparent and will provide space for monitoring and evaluation of the programmers and services being offered. Picture: Maria Martinez, Stella Ngugi and Trevor Louise Key legal issues in disaster risk management Speaking on this topic, Stella Ngugi - Disaster Law Programmed Officer at the IFRC Africa Region said this should be put in place before an emergency happens or before aid comes in. She said there is a need to make sure that agencies responsible are able to support the beneficiaries, control and manage what happens during the emergency phase when aid is coming in the country, especially, if it is aid that is too big for the government to handle, not because they do not have the capacity but depending on how much the disaster has affected the population and also the phase after, which involves how to build on the recovery and the resilience of the population that has been affected. “The national government has the primary role at all times to be able to dictate what’s going on and though international humanitarian workers are coming in and they have their rights, they also have responsibilities and are accountable to the national government which they are working for. So, they must make sure that they are coordinating,” she highlighted. Ngugi also noted that generally, there have been challenges when aid is coming in various countries. She asserted that bringing aid involves crossing borders and each country has its sovereign responsibility to protect its border. Ngugi asserted that she would like the Red Cross Societies to continue the supporting role that they have with the national government, “and the auxiliary role that they have as a technical advisor to the national government is very important. It is unremarkable that in this time we are living in where climate change is affecting the country, despite already having a Disaster Management Bill, we want to see it adapting to the current context of the country. As a small island state, Seychelles is adversely affected by climate change more than other inland countries and so the work they are doing is commendable. I hope they can impart the legislation that is being developed in years to come.” The workshop was held on Thursday, 22 August and Friday, 23 August at Savoy Resort and Spa. Following the comments and suggestions made in this workshop, DRDM will be compiling a report with the help of the International Federation of Red Cross before proceeding with the validation of the draft Act. Article by C.Ouma
By Agnes Ndaaba The rainy season in Uganda brings mixed feelings and reactions. To some, it is welcome while to others, it spells doom and awakens very bad memories. In April, Buyende District was at the receiving end of Mother Nature following heavy rain and the resultant floods led to many people losing their lives and several properties destroyed. But perhaps the most affected area by heavy rain is Bududa District in eastern Uganda. In 2010, it was reported that about 100 people lost their lives following a mudslide resulting from heavy rain. In 2018 again in Bududa District, it was reported that a number of people were killed in a mudslide after heavy rain. Then early this month, Bududa was back in the news again for the same reason. I visited Bududa in April and spoke to a number of residents. Children and adults expressed similar concerns - fearing that the rainy season was about to start and they were most likely to witness another mudslide. Memories of their friends, family and property that were lost to the mudslides in Bukalasi were still fresh in their mind. I saw very large boulders, some seemingly still firmly grounded, but hanging so dangerously; coffee and banana plantations on the steep slopes and not so strong buildings belonging to residents. It even started raining when I was still there and I couldn’t stop imagining the boulders and everything else tumbling down, and it was a scary thought. I was curious to know why these people, very aware of the dangers they co-habit with, would not relocate to safer areas during rainy seasons and return later. Among the responses they gave was that Bukalasi is extremely fertile for crop growing, and evidently so. Besides, these people have ancestral and cultural attachments from which they do not want to be divorced. A more fascinating disclosure was that a number of them that get resettled eventually return to their homes. This makes the resettlement efforts by the Office of the Prime Minister quite ineffective. While I have dwelt much on mudslides and landslides, Uganda faces other disasters, including, but not limited to refugee influx, civil strife, famine as a result of drought specially in the north-eastern parts of the country. Others are earthquakes, armed conflict, disease epidemics, and terrorism, all of which increase vulnerability of Ugandans by the day. Currently, Uganda is grappling with a possible Ebola outbreak with a few reported positive cases at the border with the DR Congo. One would rightly argue that Uganda has had more than enough triggers to provoke an expedited development of a comprehensive legislative framework on disaster risk management. One that among others assigns authorities and responsibilities to individuals and/or institutions, but sadly, there is none. The closest there is being the National Policy on Disaster Preparedness and Management (2011), whose goal is to “establish institutions and mechanisms that will reduce the vulnerability of people, plants and wildlife to disasters in Uganda.” However, policies are not binding and we, therefore, see continued reliance on several sectoral laws, which however, are lacking in a number of aspects. The problems that usually arise out of disaster are very complex and require a comprehensive and coordinated management policy and legislation, and the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) notes that “without a comprehensive and binding legal directive that obliges actors and agencies to take action, the natural inertia of bureaucracies means that non-specified essential tasks are unlikely to be undertaken.” A cursory look at the four priority areas of the Sendai Framework for DRR (2015-2030) under which Uganda operates reveals that Uganda has made significant progress on the four priorities of the framework, having put in place National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, functional Disaster Management Committees at district level, and a functional National Emergency Coordination and Operations Centre (NECOC), but there is need for a legislation, to further strengthen the established institutions and to increase accountability. The checklist for Disaster Risk Reduction legislation developed jointly by the International Federation of the Red Cross and the UNDP calls for a legislation that prioritises risk reduction; establishes clear roles and responsibilities related to risk reduction for all relevant institutions from national to local level; and ensures that sufficient resources are budgeted for disaster risk reduction. Also establishes clear procedures and responsibilities for risk assessments; establishes clear procedures and responsibilities for early warning; requires education, training and awareness-raising to promote a ‘whole of society approach’ to DRR; ensures the engagement of all relevant stakeholders in risk reduction decisions and activities; addresses gender concerns and the special needs of particularly vulnerable categories of persons; and puts in place adequate mechanisms to ensure that responsibilities are fulfilled and rights are protected. It goes without saying that the lack of a disaster risk management legislation by the government fails Ugandans on all the foregoing fronts. Three years down the road, the Office of the Prime Minister is still in the process of formulating a national disaster management Bill. It is about time probably that a motion to introduce a Private Members Bill on DRR was brought to and debated in Parliament. Ms Ndaaba is a Disaster Law Project manager/In-House Legal Counsel, Uganda Red Cross Society. [email protected]
The auxiliary role is one of the defining characteristics of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ relationship with the public authorities. While acting at all times pursuant to the Fundamental Principles, National Societies are expected to have unique links with the public authorities, different both from governmental departments and from non-governmental organisations.While all recognised National Societies benefit from official acknowledgment of their role through a Red Cross or Red Crescent law or decree, the expression of this role in other legal, policy and planning documents varies significantly from country to country.Yet National Society activities cover a broad range of sectors including disaster risk management (including supporting people displaced), public health (including blood, ambulance, and first aid services), social cohesion and support and support for vulnerable migrants and refugees, among others. Legislation, policies, and agreements play a key role in each of these fields and may be important for how the auxiliary role is perceived and carried out in practice.The IFRC's Disaster Law Programme, in close collaboration with Asia Pacific regional technical leads for National Society Development, Civil-Military, Health, Migration and Displacement, has recently developed a research project proposal which aims to map and define the auxiliary role of National Societies as provided in legislation, policies and other agreements including MoUs. IFRC is reaching out to its research partners to collaborate on the mapping. In the meantime, if your National Society is interested in participating in the mapping, or in other ways engage in the research process, please get in touch with the Disaster Law team (contact Isabelle Granger, Global Coordinator Legislative Advocacy, [email protected]). IFRC will be reaching out to selected National Societies directly in due course as the proposal progresses and the research is launched.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 A two-day high-level gathering on localisation of effective disaster management was recently organised by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, The Gambia Red Cross Society, National Disaster Management Agency and the Economic Community of West African States, at Senegambia Beach Hotel in Kololi. Funded by the European Union, the gathering targets to equip authorities with knowledge of ECOWAS and IFRC tools (DW handbook, 2018-2022 plan of action, ECOWAS assessment tool, IDRL guidelines, model act and the checklist for domestic preparedness and response). It also aims to encourage consultation on the elements of the DM Handbook towards its finalisation; share progress in the field of disaster law at regional and national levels over the past 10 years; stimulate discussion on the localisation of aid through legal facilitation of international response and empowerment of local capacities; and development of ideas and prosperity areas for future work on disaster law in consideration of existing DM legal frameworks. Gambia Red Cross Society program manager Abdoulie Fye said they are confident that Gambia will soon legislate the disaster law for effective and efficient coordination of international disaster response and train all the humanitarian actors and government authorities on the law for its smooth implementation. Maria Martinez, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Africa region disaster law programme coordinator said as co-conveners of the localisation work stream within the Grand Bargain Initiative, the IFRC is committed to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of the humanitarian ecosystem by increasing international investment and respect for the role of local actors (both government and non-governmental) in humanitarian response, particularly those at community level. Sanna Dahaba, executive director of the National Disaster Management Agency said they are building a truly proactive attitude towards risk reduction and called on all actors to invest in risk reduction. He urged government institutions to mainstream such priorities into their departmental policies. Alasan Senghore, secretary general of The Gambia Red Cross Society said; “We all have obligations to support government in ensuring that they adhere, respect and contribute to the implementation of policies and developed legal frameworks.” Mr. Senghore said in Africa, there is a syndrome of panic when disasters strike, saying at the Red Cross, they are committed and willing to help government push through the legal process. Saikou Gassama, Permanent Secretary Number 1 at the Office of the President said he believes that the objectives of the gathering would help put different government departments and stakeholders at the same level about the happenings and investments in disaster reduction from legal, political, technological social and economic perspectives with the ECOWAS sub-region and beyond. Author: Cherno Omar Bobb © Copyright The Point Newspaper. All rights reserved.
You know about academics and practitioners, but have you heard of the word “pracademics”? This was the catch word of participants and guests at the two-day “2018 Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Governance Academic Seminar” held at the Tha Pra Chan Campus of Thammasat University in Bangkok.The proceedings of the seminar can now be accessed online at the IFRC Resilience Library. The publication features 16 peer reviewed articles on climate-smart and inclusive disaster risk governance policies and practices in the Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand, and is the official outcome document of the academic seminar jointly organized by the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Thammasat University and other Southeast Asia-based academic and research institutions last 24-26 September 2018.This is the first IFRC initiated academic seminar and publication on disaster law in the region, and the second activity under the ASEAN-IFRC Disaster Law Peer Learning Platform, a platform launched in 2017 for the exchange of knowledge and dialogue on disaster law and policy frameworks between ASEAN Member states, SEA Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other stakeholders based in the region.In line with the global call to leave no one behind, the publication highlights good practices and gaps on inclusive disaster laws and policies at the local and national level. Content includes research on community participation towards resilience, policy gaps in addressing the vulnerability of agricultural sector and fisherfolk towards climate change and disaster risk, gender and diversity considerations in humanitarian psychosocial support programs, and crowd-sourcing as a bottom-up approach to early warning information.This first attempt on partnering with academia demonstrates the potential of a formal dialogue between researchers, humanitarian actors and policymakers. Independent academic research can shine a light on humanitarian issues and marginalized groups that may not be receiving the level of attention they deserve. It is also an avenue to openly share data. Governments and humanitarian actors have a big role to play in ensuring that these research findings are brought into the light and translated into action.More details on the seminar are found in the official page.