The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (‘IFRC’) has been providing technical support to governments on the development of disaster risk management law for over 10 years as part of the overall strategic focus of the Secretariat and its members. In 2009, the IFRC General Assembly adopted Strategy 2020 which notes that ‘[a]ppropriate laws are crucial to ensure the speed and effectiveness of humanitarian assistance. Therefore, we emphasize the importance of national legal preparedness and international legal coordination through the development and promotion of disaster law, principles and rules’.


More recently, IFRC’s Strategy 2030 emphasises the need to ‘continue to invest in promoting and defending critical areas such as international humanitarian law and disaster law, leveraging the unique auxiliary status of National Societies with Governments’.


This literature review contributes to the work of the IFRC Disaster Law Program (‘IFRC-DLP’) to support governments in strengthening their domestic legal frameworks to enable more effective disaster recovery. Specifically, it is part of the preparatory analysis, research and evidence base to develop a set of recommendations for law and policy makers in the area of law and disaster recovery and reconstruction. The recommendations will fill a gap in the following set of tools, which currently inform the IFRC-DLP’s technical advice, each of which was informed by extensive research, consultation and comparative analysis:
• the Guidelines for the domestic facilitation and regulation of international disaster assistance and
initial recovery assistance and its accompanying Model Act and Model Emergency Decree (see section
3.2.2 below); the Checklist on the Facilitation and Regulation of International Disaster Relief and Initial
Recovery Assistance;
• the Checklist on Law and Disaster Risk Reduction, and its accompanying Handbook; and
• the Checklist on Law and Disaster Preparedness and Response.


This literature review was undertaken between November 2019 and February 2020. There was no pre-defined scope given for this research, other than the general topic of ‘law and disaster recovery and reconstruction’. The list of topics included in this literature review is not considered complete or comprehensive, but a representation of a range of the most salient issues addressed by recent literature.
Additionally, due to the timing of the research, it does not include literature on recovery with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, the ultimate purpose of the review (i.e., the development of recommendations for domestic legislation) influenced the type and kind of literature reviewed and the ultimate selection of topics and issues presented in the review.


For the purposes of this review, ‘literature’ was taken to include a wide range of sources from international treaties and resolutions, to academic and legal analyses, to operational guidance and tools, but with a focus on international literature (as opposed to country/operation specific literature). The literature generally spanned documents published between 1999–2020, with a focus on the most recent resources to ensure the most up-to-date information and understandings were reflected.

Download: Literature Review on Law and Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction

Publication date: 12/01/2021

Document status: Final

Literature Review

Document data

National Societies
Disaster law
Document type