International NGOs contribute to model emergency decree

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By Paulo Cavaleri

On 11 March, Oxfam hosted a consultation in Oxford, United Kingdom on behalf of IFRC with several representatives of British NGOs concerning the “Draft Model Emergency Decree for the Facilitation and Regulation of International Disaster Relief and Initial Recovery Assistance” being developed jointly by IFRC and OCHA. The model is intended for use by states that have not had the opportunity to enact clear rules or procedures for managing international assistance before a major disaster strikes.

NGOs present included Oxfam GB, Islamic Relief, Plan, Actionaid, Care and Save the Children. The workshop was intended to gather substantive feedback on the draft and on how it might be promoted . Their suggestions will be subsequently consolidated with further feedback received from regional consultations and reflected in a final version of the model decree and commentary later this year.

The Model Emergency Decree seeks to limit delays, restrictions and costs while ensuring adequate oversight. It calls for certain legal facilities to be granted to chosen international providers. It also requires those providers to abide by clear standards, although it should be adjusted to the circumstances of each country. The model assumes that a more general emergency declaration has been separately issued and refers only to international assistance – considering that other instruments will govern domestic response.

Participants also took the opportunity to discuss the “Draft Articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters”, adopted last year on first reading by the International Law Commission (ILC) – a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly. Participants shared views about the ILC’s initiative. Once finalized, it is expected that the ILC will present a final version of these “Draft Articles” to the UN General Assembly with the recommendation that they form the basis of a new global treaty on disaster cooperation.