Rights-based approaches in disaster risk reduction
The idea of human rights is often associated with advocacy campaigns and courtrooms, whereas disaster risk reduction (DRR) is focused on preparedness planning and response management as well as mitigation of natural and human-induced hazards. These two fields may seem distant at first glance, but the relevance of human rights to DRR is well established.
Vulnerable segments of the population, especially the poor, underprivileged, and marginalized groups are among the hardest hit by catastrophic events. With limited resources and coping capacity, coupled with constraints to reach out to social networks, welfare and state services, certain groups are not able to prepare for, cope with, and recover from the impacts of disasters.
Risk reduction measures could possibly end up creasing unfavorable consequences for vulnerable populations. Land-use restriction and relocation, for example, have to be planned with full consideration on substantive rights such as right to food, health, work and public utilities, in order to support in identifying ways to minimize negative implications of such measures.
Overlooking rights-based aspects, especially among diverse and heterogeneous groups, could result in compounding vulnerabilities and increased susceptibility to the cascading impacts of disasters. This reaffirms that the governance and management of disaster and climate risk, and the rights of people in all their diversity, as well as sustainable development are not isolated from each other.
Countries are abided by International human-rights laws, treaties and conventions. However, the key challenge resolves around ways to achieve practical integration of a rights-based approach in DRR.
By Dr. Matthew Scott, Senior Researcher, Team Leader, Raoul Wallenberg Institute