IASC Operational Guidelines on Human Rights and Natural Disasters - Protecting Persons Affected by Natural Disasters, 2006

Published Date

The tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes which hit parts of Asia and the Americas in 2004/2005 highlighted the need to be attentive to the multiple human rights challenges that affected persons may face. All too often their human rights are not sufficiently taken into account. Experience has shown that, while patterns of discrimination and disregard for economic, social and cultural rights may already emerge during the emergency phase of a disaster, the longer a displacement situation continues, the greater the risk is for human rights violations. Once people have been affected by a disaster, however, they often encounter further challenges to the full realization of their rights. These challenges can be avoided if the relevant human rights guarantees were taken into account from the onset by national as well as international actors. The guidelines focus on what humanitarian actors should do in order to implement a rights-based approach to humanitarian action in the context of natural disasters.

The guidelines consist of four parts:
1) Protection, security, physical integrity and dignity of life. This is applicable in case of evacuations, relocations and other life saving measures; protection against the negative impacts of natural hazards, violence, camp security and protections and explosive devices
2) Protection of rights related to basic necessities of life, including access to goods and services, provision of adequate food, water and sanitation services
3) Protection of other economic, social and cultural rights, such as education, property and possession, housing, livelihood and work
4) Protection of other civil and political rights, for example documentation, freedom of movement, family life, expression and electoral rights