Disasters cause massive human suffering and losses. In 2018 alone, 315 geophysical and climate-related disaster events were recorded in the International Disaster Database with 11,804 deaths, and over 68.5 million people affected across the world and causing US$131,7 billion in economic damages. Despite continuing improvements in domestic disaster preparedness and response (DPR) systems over many decades, countries still face many challenges in managing the human and economic impacts of disasters, a phenomenon likely to worsen with the impact of climate change.


Laws, policies and institutional arrangements have a crucial role to play in supporting all aspects of disaster risk management (DRM) including disaster risk reduction, preparedness and response, as well as facilitating international assistance when the scale of a disaster exceeds national capacities. This has been recognized in key international instruments, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 (Sendai Framework).


The IFRC has been working intensively on these issues for many years and has developed a number of important guidelines and tools to support decision-makers familiarity with international standards and legal frameworks, improve domestic legislation and address the legal barriers that can stand in the way of effective risk reduction and disaster management. Key among these include:


Following numerous requests from National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (National Societies), IFRC embarked on this project to develop a Checklist on Law and Disaster Preparedness and Response (DPR Checklist), to support governments, National Societies and other stakeholders with technical assistance for the strengthening of laws relating to DPR, which were not covered in previous tools. The topic of recovery is intended as the subject of future research, and as such is not included here.


This Checklist is supported by a Global Synthesis Report on Law and Disaster Preparedness and Response (Synthesis Report), which provides the detailed legal basis and practical examples which form the basis of the Checklist questions. The Synthesis Report was informed by two specific inputs:

  • Literature Review: A literature review on 10 topics that are integral to DPR, which identifies and briefly summarizes the key resources on each topic including international legal materials, academic books and articles, reports and case studies, and existing guidelines, standards and recommendations; and
  • Desktop Reviews: Desktop reviews of the domestic laws relevant to DPR from 20 sample countries which reflect a broad spectrum of geographic regions, disaster risks and human development levels.