The Duty to Provide Humanitarian Assistance in the Event of Disaster is increasingly the subject of study and action, by governments, international organizations and scholars. The Institut de droit international has issued a Resolution on this topic in 2003 (the Bruges Resolution on Humanitarian Assistance), and the International Law Commission (ILC) has been working on draft articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disaster since 2007 and has already adopted 21 draft articles on first reading. Furthermore, in 2014 the ILC decided to transmit the draft articles adopted on first reading to governments and several international organizations (the ICRC) for comments and observations.
The topic raises questions of sovereign responsibility to those individuals affected by the disaster: both the responsibility of the authorities in the affected state and the responsibility of other states.
We are grateful to Judge Kenneth Keith of the International Court of Justice for sharing with us his “Natural Disasters and International Law – A Preliminary Note” which he presented at the Tokyo Session of the Institut de droit international (September 2013). This preliminary note describes and evaluates the emerging efforts to progressively develop the law in this area.