From law to action: Saving lives through International Disaster Response Law -The cases of Vanuatu, Ecuador and South Sudan

In the face of climate change, the world continues to witness frequent and large-scale disasters. In the rst half of 2017 alone, 149 natural disasters occurred in 73 countries resulting in 3,162 deaths, affecting 80 million people and resulting in the estimated loss of US$32.4 billion. With ongoing famine and food insecurity in Africa, natural disasters occurring regularly across the Asia Paci c, insecurity across the Middle East, not to mention powerful hurricanes in the Caribbean – our humanitarian system is struggling to respond to the unprecedented scale of emergencies we are witnessing today.

While natural hazards continue to cause massive human suffering and adversely affect the realisation of sustainable development, governments need effective legal frameworks and well implemented disaster laws to ensure a well-functioning disaster risk management system, and that the right aid is delivered at the right time. Rules and procedures must be in place before a disaster strikes for the effective management of international disaster assistance. This is crucial for saving lives in a disaster response.

In some cases, an absence of procedures to address these legal barriers during a disaster has served as a catalyst for legal reform, as can be seen in the case studies shared in this report. While law and regulation is often looked upon as a barrier to quick and effective relief, if a country has the right procedures in place it is quite the opposite –laws can indeed create an enabling environment and serve as a solid legal foundation for effective disaster response and save lives.