Countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus are susceptible to both sudden (such as earthquakes, floods, landslides) and slow-onset disasters (such as drought and land degradation). In addition, climate change scenarios predict more extreme temperatures and precipitation as well as changes in the intensity and frequency of weather-related natural hazards. Experience from many disaster areas has shown that the disaster response is most successful when both governments and humanitarian actors use a rights-based approach when preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters. Unfortunately, in many cases, human rights concerns are rarely taken into consideration in disaster management.
Given this reality, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement and UN OCHA jointly convened a workshop with key players in the field, including government representatives (responsible for disaster relief and disaster risk reduction), Red Cross/Red Crescent representatives, major national NGOs and civil society representatives and key UN actors with the aim to increase the capacity of involved actors to incorporate human rights and protection issues in preparing for, responding to, and/or recovering from natural disasters. From the Brookings Institution, Elizabeth Ferris (co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement) and Daniel Petz (senior research assistant on natural disasters) planned and engaged with partners for this workshop.
Specific overall objectives of the workshop included:
- Increasing awareness of the protection challenges that exist in natural disasters and activities that promote the rights of disaster-affected people;
- Clarifying the role of governments and humanitarian actors in protection in natural disasters;
- Increase awareness of the IASC Operational Guidelines on the Protection of Persons in Situations of Natural Disasters and the IASC Framework on Durable Solutions and how they can be applied in the Central Asia and the Caucasus;
- Discussing good practices in terms of regional, national and local monitoring mechanisms of humanitarian response in natural disasters;
- Generating specific recommendations to strengthen policy and action for rights protection at the local, national and regional levels.