Allen & Overy partners with IFRC to develop new legal approach to mitigating impact of natural disasters

Allen & Overy is partnering with the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to develop a new legal approach to mitigating the impact of natural disasters.

In 2010, a team of lawyers from 23 Allen & Overy offices joined forces, on a pro bono basis, with the IFRC’s disaster law experts to research the domestic legislations that regulate incoming disaster relief across several dozen jurisdictions.

The team’s research confirmed that many countries lack clear legal rules when it comes to the regulation of international operations. These include visa procedures for international relief personnel, customs clearance and duties for relief goods and equipment, tax exemptions for relief operations and permissions for employing local staff.

There were, however, some examples of governments taking action to solve these issues.

Drawing on this research, the IFRC, together with the United Nations office of the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, developed a Model Law on the acceptance of international disaster relief.

The work has been monitored and analysed in discussions with key stakeholders (governments, international organisations and humanitarian relief experts) to ensure the guidance is suitable — and flexible enough — for countries susceptible to natural disasters, and those where a disaster would have the greatest impact.