When Disaster Strikes -
How Irish Aid Agencies Respond
It is critically important that only the right aid is sent to affected regions, and that the aid is given in ways that allow people to rebuild their lives: aid is about saving livelihoods as much as it is about saving lives. Aid agencies have develop ed a number of clear guidelines and principles for their aid efforts. These are based on their experience, but also on international law.
International Humanitarian Law
Humanitarian aid is governed by three sets of internationally agreed laws:
- The Geneva Conventions: agreed by 194 countries, these Conventions set standards for countries' behaviour in times of war.
- Human Rights Law: a set of internationally agreed treaties penalising violations of human rights such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
- Refugee Law: a 1951 UN convention, regulating the treatment of refugees.
For instance, aid agencies aim to be neutral, impartial and independent. They strive to work as much as possible with local partners. They try to buy relief items as close to the disaster area as possible, in the hope of reviving the local economy and they are committed to working in close coordination with other aid agencies.
'Central to all humanitarian crises is vulnerability. The primary cause of vulnerability in developing countries is poverty'.
White Paper on Irish Aid, 2006