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Law, Disasters and Public Health Emergencies in the Pacific

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Underpinning every emergency response operation, whether in response to natural hazards or public health emergencies, is a complex network of laws, regulations and policies which determine when, how and by whom emergency preparedness and response activities can be carried out.

Why is this project being undertaken?

As witnessed by the recent devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Harold, many Pacific Island countries are already experiencing the dual impact of weatherrelated hazards and the COVID-19 pandemic. Others are reviewing their own disaster preparedness measure for the upcoming “cyclone season” while ensuring that they limit any further spread of the virus.

It is critical that governments and their partners, look at how to strengthen coordination, complementarity and, where possible, integration between climate, disaster risk management and health systems. This will enable domestic response mechanisms to better leverage existing structures and powers while avoiding duplication.

Capitalizing on its long experience and leadership in disaster laws, IFRC is supporting the Pacific Resilience Partnership Technical Working Group on Risk Governance to research and provide guidance on effective laws for multi hazard preparedness and response in the Pacific.

What will this project cover?

The Pacific mapping will analyze the legislative and policy linkages between disaster and public health emergency responses in the Pacific, at both domestic and regional levels. It will map experiences and best practices arising from responding to natural hazards during the current pandemic, in addition to analyzing policy and practice applied to past public health emergencies in the region.

It will provide guidance in relation to the following topics

a) Effective laws and institutional frameworks for multi hazard response (natural hazards and health emergencies)

b) the role of law in mitigating secondary impacts of public health emergencies, specifically impacts on shelter and housing, human mobility and vulnerable groups.

The Pacific project will be informed by and feed into a Global Research Project being undertaken simultaneously by the IFRC, on Law and Public Health Emergencies.

It is anticipated that initial recommendations from the Pacific and Global projects will be ready by the end of 2020.