Research Study concerning Ireland’s Legal and Policy Preparedness for International Disaster Response

Funded By:

   Irish Red Cross

Lead Researchers:

   Dr Pat Gibbons and Dr Ronan McDermott

The Irish Red Cross commissioned the Centre for Humanitarian Action at University College Dublin to produce a report on the legal and policy framework in Ireland for incoming humanitarian assistance.  The aim of the study was to identify areas of good practice and gaps across a wide range of legal and policy domains that relate to the facilitation of incoming humanitarian assistance.  This was conducted on the basis of the ‘EU Host Nation Support Guidelines’ and the ‘Guidelines for the domestic facilitation and regulation of international disaster relief and initial recovery’ adopted by the states parties to the Geneva Conventions at the 30th International Conference of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Among the various legal and policy issues addressed in the study are the following:

  • Requests for international assistance by Ireland’s relevant government authorities
  • Coordination of international assistance by Ireland’s relevant government authorities
  • Accountability and legal status offoreign relief organisations
  • Customs and taxationrequirements for medication, relief goods and equipment
  • Regulation of visas, work permits, and professional qualifications of foreign relief personnel

Legal issues are often overlooked as part of preparedness planning for disasters. This is particularly so for situations where international assistance may be needed.   Sadly, vital international support can be hampered during large-scale disaster operations by issues such as: a lack of legal recognition for foreign relief providers; customs delays and tax requirements for medication, relief goods and equipment; complications with visas for relief personnel; and a lack of recognition of foreign professional qualifications in emergency situations. While it may always be hoped that international disaster relief will never be required in Ireland or in any other country for that matter, it is essential to be prepared. The research conducted by CHA will investigate the extent to which Ireland’s existing legal and policy framework prevents or mitigates such issues from arising and will also provide recommendations in consultation with the relevant stakeholders concerning how Ireland can strengthen its legal preparedness in accordance with international guidelines. The report was presented at a national workshop organised by the Irish Red Cross in October 2013.