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Day 1 Blog: Disaster Risk Reduction and International Law Symposium 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The first day of the Disaster Risk Reduction and International Law Symposium 2017 has just concluded! Co-sponsored by the University of Reading (School of Law and Walker Institute) and the American Society of International Law (Disaster Law Interest Group), the focus point has been on the changing global landscape, and how to grapple with the increasing frequency and severity of a wide array of both ‘human-made’ and ‘natural’ disasters.

The reference point from which the discussions have drawn upon in dealing with disasters is the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. The particular focus has been on how international law can reconcile the challenges the international community faces in relation to disasters and how to implement the Sendai Framework to better prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from, impending disasters.

The expected outcome of the Sendai Framework is to substantially reduce disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and productive assets.  In pursuit of this outcome, it outlines four priorities of action: understanding disaster risk, strengthening disaster risk governance, investing in disaster risk reduction, and enhancing preparedness for effective response and to ‘build back better’.

In this spirit, the symposium has served to build on the knowledgebase relating to disasters to better understand the challenges we face, and how to deal with them, through cross disciplinary engagement.

In this pursuit, today’s panels have discussed the role of international law in disaster risk reduction, the conceptual challenges that law must reconcile to reduce disaster risk, followed by an exploration of existing law and its role in the development of core principles of disaster risk reduction. The panels have also explored accountability, implementation and enforcement within the Sendai Framework for encouraging action. The day ended with reflections on early warning systems, communication of risk and crisis information, and the duty to warn in the face of imminent disaster.

To be discussed in the upcoming days is the role of climate change management, national and regional approaches to disaster risk reduction, and the role of international environmental law and human rights in reducing disaster risk.

To watch any panels, catch Day 1 here.