Research Handbook on Disasters and International Law
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Research Handbook on Disasters and International Law

Edited by Susan C. Breau and Katja L.H. Samuel

International law’s role in governing disasters is undergoing a formative period in its development and reach, in parallel with concerted efforts by the international community to respond more effectively to the increasing number and intensity of disasters across the world. This Research Handbook examines a broad range of legal regimes directly and indirectly relevant to disaster prevention, mitigation and reconstruction across a spectrum of natural and manmade disasters, including armed conflict.
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Chapter 4: Responses by states

Susan C. Breau


This chapter considers the responsibility of states for preventing, responding to and rebuilding after natural or man-made disasters. An equal focus is the international law obligations that bind states in these circumstances. It argues that the three phases of the responsibility to protect can lend detail to state obligations in the event of disasters both domestically and with respect to the international community. It considers the responsibility to protect as a complement to the International Law Commission’s ‘Articles for the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters’ and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ International Disaster Response Law, Rules and Principles. Finally, the chapter examines the applicability of the emerging doctrine of ‘aggravated state responsibility’ when a state is unwilling or unable to provide disaster relief to its own citizens.

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