Emory International Law Review

Volume 25Issue 3
Symposium: A Worldwide Response: An Examination of International Law Frameworks in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters

A Call to Respond: The International Community’s Obligation to Mitigate the Impact of Natural Disasters

Jenny R. Hernandez & Anne D. Johnson | 25 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 1087 (2011)

Challenged by the successes and failures of the Haiti relief efforts, the Emory International Law Review’s Spring 2011 Symposium, “A Worldwide Response: An Examination of International Law Frameworks in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters” (“A Worldwide Response”), investigated how international law can develop to address disaster crises. On January 27, 2011, “A Worldwide Response” convened scholars and practitioners in the field of international disaster relief to discuss and further this uncertain, but critical field of international law. The Symposium highlighted three major themes in its day-long investigation of current international response. As the Symposium’s participants engaged with these issues, it became clear that this event was one of the first of its kind.

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Successes and Challenges of the Haiti Earthquake Response: The Experience of USAID

Paul E. Weisenfeld | 25 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 1097 (2011)

The Haiti relief and reconstruction effort continues to be complex, presenting the difficult task of allocating limited human and financial resources between immediate humanitarian needs and long-term sustainable development solutions, which are intended to address Haiti’s underlying problems. The ultimate measure of success for the relief and reconstruction effort will be the strength of Haitian institutions that the USG and international community leave behind. This Article focuses on the U.S.-led response, which demonstrated how present laws and practices are effective in responding to highly complex and large-scale natural disasters and highlighted potential areas for improvement.

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Modern Disaster Theory: Evaluating Disaster Law as a Portfolio of Legal Rules

Jim Chen | 25 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 1121 (2011)

Disaster law consists of a portfolio of legal rules for dealing with catastrophic risks. This Article takes preliminary steps toward modeling that metaphor in quantitative terms made familiar through modern portfolio theory. Modern disaster theory, by analogy to the foundational model of corporate finance, treats disaster law as the best portfolio of legal rules. Optimal legal preparedness for disaster consists of identifying, adopting, and maintaining that portfolio of rules at the frontier of efficient governance.

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Cheaper, Better, Longer-Lasting: A Rights-Based Approach to Disaster Response in Haiti

Brian Concannon, Jr. & Beatrice Lindstrom | 25 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 1145 (2011)

This Article explores how the failure of the earthquake response is the result of past and current policies that, however well intentioned, fail to adequately respect the human rights of Haitians, especially Haiti’s poor. It demonstrates that while the earthquake created new acute human rights challenges for Haiti, it also exposed the disastrous effects of decades-old policies that systematically undermine the Haitian government’s ability to provide basic governmental services and meet the needs of the majority of its people. A legacy of debt and international trade policies has incapacitated the Haitian government, and lack of enforcement of the rule of law has made Haiti’s poor disproportionately vulnerable to natural disasters. Haiti’s earthquake illustrates that the most severe humanitarian emergencies are most often symptomatic of and contributory to a larger human rights emergency.

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Women in the Aftermath of the 2010 Haitian Earthquake

Benedetta Faedi Duramy | 25 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 1193 (2011)

This Article examines women’s and girls’ struggles in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. In particular, it focuses on the grievous conditions in the displacement camps that foster gender-based violence and abuse, often perpetrated by members of armed groups or prison escapees. Indeed, the lack of lighting, private sanitary facilities, secure shelters, and police patrols in the encampment areas endanger women’s and girls’ safety. The devastation and traumatic loss of family and community members following the earthquake further affect women’s resilience and increase their vulnerability to abuse and sexual violence. By examining the conditions and risks faced by women and girls in the displacement camps, this Article aims to identify preventive measures and effective responses that international law and humanitarian aid should adopt to protect displaced women and girls and address gender-based violence.

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Are Lawyers Unsung Disaster Heroes?: The Importance of Well-Prepared Domestic Legal and Regulatory Frameworks for Effective Disaster Response

Elyse Mosquini | 25 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 1217 (2011)

The aftermath of a natural disaster unquestionably calls for action amid chaos. No matter its character—a sudden-onset earthquake, seasonal hurricane, or flooding—a natural disaster’s immediate-term impact is similar: families and communities confronting loss of life and property and struggling to meet their basic needs. The affected population may be displaced from their homes, supply chains of essential items such as food and fuel may be cut off, and social services may be interrupted. When these basic needs outstretch local capacities, the complexity of the response operation mounts. This Article highlights the importance of well-prepared domestic regulatory frameworks for effective disaster response. Reviewing several key historic and current international and regional initiatives, it offers insight into future directions in the field of international disaster response law.

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Mainstreaming Children’s Rights in Post-disaster Settings

Jonathan Todres | 25 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 1233 (2011)

In recent years, major natural disasters—ranging from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to the 2010 Haiti earthquake—have challenged the global community to ensure the survival and well-being of millions of individuals under the most difficult circumstances. Each of these natural disasters has created crisis spots with huge numbers of displaced persons, including high numbers of children. The international community has struggled to deliver the resources needed to ensure the prompt and full recovery of the affected populations. In these settings, the challenges confronting children are particularly acute. This Article examines the special circumstances facing children in post-disaster settings and the legal protections in place to ensure their rights and well-being.

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