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Simon Whitbourn

This chapter examines the obligations upon states to ensure effective and comprehensive national contingency planning. It first considers the meaning of ‘national contingency planning’, explains its evolution through domestic law and draws on examples from national legislation to help identify the key elements of an effective national contingency planning framework. The chapter then explores existing international law obligations on states to plan for disasters, primarily found in a few multilateral, hazard-specific conventions and regional agreements, before considering recent developments – derived from human rights case law, declarations of international conferences and the work of the International Law Commission – which point towards the imposition of specific obligations to plan effectively for disaster. It argues that despite these developments gaps remain and that, without greater recognition at the international level of the importance of effective national contingency planning laws, the work to improve other aspects of disaster risk management could ultimately be wasted.