Call for Proposals: Disasters and International Law in the Asia-Pacific

The Faculty of Law, UNSW Australia, together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Australian Red Cross, the AHRCentre and the University of Technology, Sydney, are pleased to announce an expert workshop on Disasters and International Law in the Asia-Pacific, to be held at UNSW on Friday 24 July 2015. 

This workshop, which we believe will be the first such event to focus on the Asia-Pacific region, aims to bring together a small group of practitioners, including those working in government, NGOs and international organisations, as well as academics and researchers, to discuss current issues relating to disasters and international law in the Asia-Pacific region.

International disaster law is an emerging sub-field of international law made up of a patchwork of global, regional and bilateral treaties, guidelines, and other instruments.  Some of these instruments are thematic and others have geographic coverage. In light of the increased frequency and severity of disasters occurring as a result of climate change, the need for better co-ordination and co-operation in emergency response, preparedness and prevention is clear.  Law has a key role to play and thus it is important to analyse and evaluate the legal framework that applies when disasters occur in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific region is particularly vulnerable to disasters when compared to other regions of the world. In addition to facing a range of geophysical and meteorological disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones and typhoons, the Asia-Pacific region is also vulnerable to industrial, technological and health emergencies, such as the Ebola virus. Further, the Asia-Pacific region is diverse, including countries at varying levels of development. The region also comprises several sub-regions, for example South Asia, South-east Asia, North-east Asia, and the Pacific.  At the same time, some of the policies, guidelines and treaty level instruments developed in the Asia-Pacific to assist in disaster recovery, risk preparedness and prevention are among world’s best practice, such as the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.


  • Provide a forum where practitioners and researchers can exchange views on current issues in international law and disasters in the region.
  • Highlight areas of strength within disaster law and practice in the region, and to discuss how best to disseminate information about ‘best practice’, both within the region and beyond.
  • Identify areas in which the international disaster law and practice in the region requires development or improvement, or could benefit from the knowledge gained from experiences elsewhere.
  • Examine the role of law in relation to other disciplines also concerned with disasters, for example, health, technology, and engineering.
  • Facilitate the development of a network for cooperation and discussion concerning issues affecting international law and disasters in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Develop a research agenda for further research and cooperation concerning international disaster law and practice in the Asia-Pacific region.

We welcome proposals on the following themes, as well as those on other related issues and from a perspective other than law. Priority will be given to papers with a clear relevance to the Asia Pacific region.

  • The relationship between international disaster law and other relevant areas of law, for example human rights, cultural heritage and international humanitarian law.
  • Health emergencies, for example, the Ebola crisis.
  • The rights and responsibilities of host and assisting states.
  • The role of humanitarian organisations such as NGOs and international organisations.
  • The impact of the Sendai conference and risk management in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • The intersection between domestic and regional/sub-regional instruments (eg regarding land titling and official documents post-disaster).
  • The relevance of the ILC draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters to the Asia-Pacific region and the impact of Asia-Pacific law and practice on the ILC draft articles.
  • Particularly vulnerable groups in disasters eg disability, gender, age, poverty, other factors.
  • Movement of people in response to disasters and as a risk mitigation strategy.


One page proposals should briefly set out the issue to be addressed in a 15 minute presentation. Proposals should include:


The title of the proposal 

Author’s name 

Author’s email address 

Author’s phone number  

A brief CV (2-3 pages) which identifies the author’s interest, expertise and experience in international disaster law in the Asia-Pacific region. 

The proposals should be emailed to by 25 May 2015. 


Individuals interested in participating in the workshop, but not wishing to present a paper, should submit only a CV by this deadline, indicating in the covering email that they wish to be considered for participation only.


Successful applicants will be notified by 4 June 2015, with draft papers to be submitted by 10 July 2015 (approximately 8,000 words) and will be circulated to other participants. The organisers intend to produce an edited issue of an academic journal based on selected papers from the workshop.  


The workshop is supported by limited funding from the Faculty of Law, UNSW, Australia. There is no registration fee for participating in the workshop, and the cost of meals during the day will be provided. 


Participants will be required to cover the cost of their travel to Sydney, and to and from the workshop, as well as accommodation.  

Download a copy of the Call for Proposals in PDF form here.