International disaster response law (IDRL)

International disaster relief law (IDRL) is an emerging area of international law designed specifically to improve the humanitarian response to natural disasters. It thus fills both a gap and a need, given the focus of IHL upon conflict situations and the increasing frequency and impact of natural disasters. In a process led by the IFRC, IDRL draws on existing law, rules, principles and guidance.  It aims to contribute to a more effective oversight and regulation of the disaster response by local authorities while pushing towards more effective and accountable relief efforts.

Rescue worker with dog looking for survivors after natural disaster

Photo: Jessica Lea/DFID

Key actors

Assists National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to support their authorities in developing and applying disaster-related legislation, policies, and procedures

Expert body of the UN, charged with codifying customary international law, has been advancing the framework for disaster response and adopted the 2016 Draft Articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters

Key references

International guidelines to help governments strengthen their domestic laws and policies in international disaster relief and initial recovery assistance

Compilation of disaster law issues relevant to the IFRC such as law and disaster risk reduction and regulatory barriers to post-disaster shelter

A regional stocktaking of disaster laws and the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER)

Tools for the job

Database providing legal and policy instruments related to disaster management from the international, regional, national, provincial and local levels, as well as references to articles, book chapters, and reports relevant to disaster law

Information tools

Latest disaster law news from the IFRC

Learning resources

Free introductory module on IDRL on the law of international disaster response

PHAP certifications

Certification badge for International Legal Frameworks for Humanitarian Action (ILFHA)

Knowledge about international disaster response law is covered by the International Legal Frameworks for Humanitarian Action (ILFHA) certification (competency statement 1.2).

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