International Disaster Law

Keywords: Disaster Law; International Law; Human Rights

The emerging concept of international disaster law (IDL) is in a period of significant development, illustrated by the 2016 adoption of the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters, as well as the adoption of the UN Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 the previous year. Disaster management involves numerous legal regimes, and in addition to the core framework just mentioned, IDL is also built upon and around other areas of international law, including international environmental law, international human rights law, climate change law, and international water law. Activities of disaster management actors are further regulated through a number of (non-binding) guidelines and standards, at the same time as specific agreements regulate activities relating to certain hazards or aspects of disaster management. One of the core challenges currently facing the field is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the patchwork created by this vast number of relevant laws and regulations in order to identify significant overlaps, tensions and gaps. Further to this, it is also important to strengthen communication between address the implementation of existing laws and policies in ways that benefits affected people on the ground.

This panel will explore the role of law in disaster risk reduction, response and recovery. There are numerous issues to examine, including, but not limited to, the relationship between IDL and related areas of (international) law; the implementation of international and regional disaster law and policy on the national and local levels; the mechanisms available to hold responsible actors into account for their actions at all stages of disasters; and the extent to which IDL ensures protection of vulnerable and marginalised groups before, during, and after disasters.



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DD Caron, MJ Kelly and A Telesetsky (eds), The International Law of Disaster Relief (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
D Cubie, The International Legal Protection of Persons in Humanitarian Crises: Exploring the AcquisHumanitaire (Hart, 2017)
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International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Law and Legal Issues in International Disaster Response: A Desk Study (2007)
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Introduction to the Guidelines for the Domestic Facilitation and Regulation of International Disaster Relief and Initial Recovery Assistance (2008)
International Law Commission, Draft Articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters (adopted, on second reading, by the Drafting Committee) UN Doc. A/CN.4/L.871 (26 May 2016)
K Lauta, Disaster Law (Routledge, 2015)
J Peel and D Fisher (eds), The Role of International Environmental Law in Disaster Risk Reduction (Brill, Nijhoff, 2016)
United Nations “2015-2030 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (adopted by Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction) A/CONF.224/CRP.1 (18 March 2015)
Valencia-Ospina, Eighth Report on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters, UN Doc. A/CN.4/697 (17 March 2016)
A Zwitter, CK Lamont, H-J Heintze and J Herman (eds), Humanitarian Action: Global, Regional and Domestic Legal Responses  (Cambridge University Press, 2015)


Panel chair

Marie Aronsson-Storrier ( Marie is a Lecturer in Global Law and Disasters, and the Programme Director for LLM/MSc Global Crisis, Conflict, and Disaster Management at the University of Reading. Her research and teaching focus on the developing field of international disaster law, as well as related areas of international law, in particular, human rights, armed conflict, sustainable development, water security, sanitation and disaster risk reduction.