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THE IMPLEMENTATION OF A DISASTER MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT IN ASEAN: TOWARDS REGIONAL PREPAREDNESS?

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This NTS Alert offers an overview of the initiatives taken by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to operationalise the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), the first and only legally binding agreement on regional disaster management. It presents the decisions and activities that have taken place as well as efforts to complement and synergise existing disaster management policies within other regional fora where ASEAN interacts with its dialogue partners.

Introduction

The ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) which was signed in July 2005 and entered into force in December 2009 is the culmination of ASEAN's work in building regional resilience to natural disasters, an effort which began in 1971 when the ASEAN Expert Group on Disaster Management first met. Nevertheless, this is only the beginning of a long journey towards its effective implementation.

Realising that the region is prone to natural hazards such as typhoons, floods, forest fires and earthquakes which have significant impacts on communities and on the development of member states and the region overall, disaster management has become one of the priority issues for cooperation among ASEAN members.

However, despite the consensus on the urgency of the issue, the disaster management capacities and capabilities of states in the region vary widely. Therefore, the implementation of AADMER is expected to address these gaps by providing support for regional disaster preparedness. The effectiveness of AADMER implementation will lie in its ability to provide regional support to national capacity in alleviating the risks of natural hazards and providing timely and sufficient response in the wake of natural disasters. The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) should be the focal point for cooperation. In order for this to materialise, ASEAN must be able to address the challenges it would face on the national and regional levels.