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Regional Consultative Group on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination for Asia and the Pacific, Briefing book

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RCG Terms of Reference

Background

The Asia-Pacific series of Conferences on Military Assistance to Disaster Relief Operations (APC-MADRO) that took place over a five-year period1, were organized with the aim of developing collaborative Guidelines to assist the planning of foreign military assistance in support of disaster response operations in the Asia-Pacific region. At the end of this process, the Asia-Pacific Regional Guidelines for the Use of Foreign Military Assets in Natural Disaster Response Operations (“APC MADRO Guidelines”)2 were finalized and endorsed.

Building upon the outcomes of the Asia-Pacific series of Conferences, the ASEAN-U.S. Informal Defence Forum, held in Hawaii in April 2014, highlighted the need for greater engagement and enhanced coordination between civilian and military personnel engaged in disaster management in the Asia-Pacific region. OCHA’s Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Kyung-wha Kang, proposed to organize a civil-military coordination workshop on the subject of disaster preparedness and coordinated operational planning in response to this call.

Ms. Kang’s proposal was met with broad agreement and OCHA’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) hosted a regional Civil-Military Coordination Workshop on 16-17 October 2014, in Bangkok, Thailand. The event gathered 72 participants from 20 countries. They represented all the key actors that possess a comparative advantage in the rapid mobilization of relief assistance and logistical capacity required to increase the effectiveness of response efforts, particularly in large-scale natural disasters: national authorities, armed forces, representatives from the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA CENTRE), the NGO community, IFRC, the UN and donors.

In addition to clear acknowledgment by participants of the need for better coordinated planning and agreement on how this could be achieved in critical areas of disaster response, a key outcome of the workshop was the recommendation to create a multi-stakeholder Regional Consultative Group on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination for Asia-Pacific to take this planning forward at a practical level.

Guiding Documents and Principles

The main reference documents for the Regional Consultative Group (RCG) on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination are the Asia-Pacific Regional Guidelines for the Use of Foreign Military Assets in Natural Disaster Response Operations (“APC MADRO Guidelines”). These regional Guidelines should be read in complement and conjunction with the Guidelines on the Use of Foreign Military and Civil Defence Assets in Disaster Relief (“Oslo Guidelines”).

The APC MADRO Guidelines are a reference guide for Member States who plan and execute foreign military support for international disaster response, as well as humanitarian entities, in order to establish the basic framework for the effective and efficient use of foreign military assets in international disaster response operations in support of an affected State[s] in the Asia-Pacific region. They have been developed between numerous regional Member States and organizations who have gained invaluable experience and lessons learned in deploying and receiving military assistance when answering to international disaster response requests.

The APC MADRO Guidelines encompass the overarching principles and concepts guiding the use of foreign military assets in disaster response operations in the Asia-Pacific region. These principles and concepts, which will form the basis for the RCG’s work, include: the principle of sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States; the humanitarian principles (humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence); complementarity; at no cost and with the consent of the affected State; needsdriven and time-limited. During international disaster response operations, the establishment of any civil-military coordination architecture will depend on the Affected State’s national structure and unique circumstances. Building upon this key principle, the Guidelines provide an outline of possible liaison arrangements as well as models for the establishment of civil-military coordination mechanisms.

Purpose

The following Terms of Reference (TOR) describe the roles and responsibilities of the Regional Consultative Group for Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination for Asia-Pacific. The objective of the RCG is to advance the civil-military coordination agenda in the region, including taking concrete steps to facilitate the coordination of operational planning between civilian and military entities preparing to respond to major disasters in the region.