International disaster response: Strengthening the legal-organizational approach


The vast scale and impact of disaster relief calls for joint efforts among the international community. This applies to disasters emerging from natural events (such as earthquakes) as well as from political conflicts (such as the stream of refugees fleeing war-torn areas). International disaster response is increasingly organized in the form of civil-military interventions, sanctioned through international law United Nations resolutions. Civil-military responses are often organized in a top-down, ‘command and control’ manner. However, at the same time, international disaster response often emerges in the form of bottom-up efforts, self-organized by affected citizens and their local and international networks, for instance through online, crowdsourced initiatives. However, the question as to how legal frameworks oriented toward civil-military interventions can accommodate these bottom-up, online initiatives remains unanswered. The lack of understanding of how legal parameters can better represent changing modes of disaster relief and vice versa lead to uncertainty among those responsible for international response work, inhibiting the effectiveness of response efforts. This proposed project seeks to address this deficit in understanding, toward the development of an interdisciplinary, legal-organization sciences approach toward international disaster response.
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