Humanitarian Health Action

Protecting persons affected by natural disasters

IASC Operational Guidelines on Human Rights and Natural Disasters


19 September 2006

Cover of the publication Protecting Persons affected by natural disasters

"Floods, earthquakes and storms have routinely displaced tens of thousands around the world. Over the past few years, the international community’s response to these catastrophes has become ever swifter and more sophisticated. Until very recently, however, and in the rush to deliver life-saving aid, little attention was paid to the rights of these displaced people.

The publication of these guidelines reflects an understanding of the need for the humanitarian system to provide to the people on the front lines of disaster response the guidance they need to ensure the protection of the rights of the people left homeless by natural disasters.

This document is the result of a collaborative approach that took place over more than a year. The Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Mr. Walter Kälin, prepared draft Operational Guidelines on Human Rights and Natural Disasters. These were shared with the members of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Working Group. Each member of the IASC WG contributed its own expertise, operational experience and insights to the collaborative process. This ensured that the final product is one that meets the needs of those affected by disasters. This version of the Operational Guidelines was formally adopted by the IASC WG at a meeting in Geneva on 9 June 2006.We want to thank all the members involved for their work and participation.

The Guidelines are short and easily accessible. They are complemented by a Manual that gives the human rights background which underpins them. The Manual also sets out practical operational steps to provide humanitarian workers with examples of how these Guidelines can best be implemented.

Human rights are as much a part of the lives of the people we are called upon to assist and to protect as are their needs for food and shelter. For the first time, these Guidelines will provide responders with the information they need to make a rightsbased approach a part of the emergency response."

Jan Egeland
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator

and

Walter Kälin
Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Relief Coordinator Displaced Persons (RSG)

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