Upcoming Workshop: Disasters and International Law in the Asia-Pacific

The Faculty of Law and the Australian Human Rights Centre, UNSW Australia, together with the International Federation of the Red Cross, the Australian Red Cross and the University of Technology, Sydney, are pleased to announce an expert workshop on Disasters and International Law in the Asia-Pacific, to be held at UNSW on Friday 24 July 2015. 

This workshop, which we believe will be the first such event to focus on the Asia-Pacific region, aims to bring together a small group of practitioners, including those working in government, NGOs and international organisations, as well as academics and researchers, to discuss current issues relating to disasters and international law in the Asia-Pacific region.

International disaster law is an emerging sub-field of international law made up of a patchwork of global, regional and bilateral treaties, guidelines, and other instruments.  Some of these instruments are thematic and others have geographic coverage. In light of the increased frequency and severity of disasters occurring as a result of climate change, the need for better co-ordination and co-operation in emergency response, preparedness and prevention is clear.  Law has a key role to play and thus it is important to analyse and evaluate the legal framework that applies when disasters occur in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific region is particularly vulnerable to disasters when compared to other regions of the world. In addition to facing a range of geophysical and meteorological disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones and typhoons, the Asia-Pacific region is also vulnerable to industrial, technological and health emergencies, such as the Ebola virus. Further, the Asia-Pacific region is diverse, including countries at varying levels of development. The region also comprises several sub-regions, for example South Asia, South-east Asia, North-east Asia, and the Pacific.  At the same time, some of the policies, guidelines and treaty level instruments developed in the Asia-Pacific to assist in disaster recovery, risk preparedness and prevention are among world’s best practice, such as the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.

The workshop aims to:

1.    Provide a forum where practitioners and researchers can exchange views on current issues in international law and disasters in the region.
2.    Highlight areas of strength within disaster law and practice in the region, and to discuss how best to disseminate information about ‘best practice’, both within the region and beyond.
3.    Identify areas in which the international disaster law and practice in the region requires development or improvement, or could benefit from the knowledge gained from experiences elsewhere.
4.    Examine the role of law in relation to other disciplines also concerned with disasters, for example, health, technology, and engineering.
5.    Facilitate the development of a network for cooperation and discussion concerning issues affecting international law and disasters in the Asia-Pacific region.
6.    Develop a research agenda for further research and cooperation concerning international disaster law and practice in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speakers and participants at the workshop include:  Dr Gary Domingo – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Philippines [tbc]; Fine Tu’itupou-Arnold, Secretary-General, Cook Islands Red Cross; Gabrielle Emery, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; Legal Adviser, Attorney-General’s Office of International Law; Luke Brown, Emergency Management Australia; Rebecca Barber, Save The Children; and Michael Eburn, Australian National University.
The workshop is supported by the Faculty of Law, UNSW, Australia. There is no registration fee for participating in the workshop, and the cost of meals during the day will be provided.  Participants will be required to cover the cost of their travel to Sydney, and to and from the workshop, as well as accommodation.

If you would like to participate in the workshop, please email idl@unsw.edu.au or sarah.williams@unsw.edu.au