For an International Mechanism on Dealing with Natural Disasters

  • 17 January 2010

Five years after the devastating tsunami that struck South Asia, which killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless, a fierce earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, leaving behind tens of thousands dead and many seriously injured. Early estimates indicate that the death toll may exceed the tsunami casualties and may top 200,000. Such a massive earthquake confirms the fact that devastating natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, storms and tsunami etc, pose a huge challenge for countries all over the world. Thus, mitigating these disasters through rescue efforts and by providing humanitarian aid requires a sustained joint effort by the international community and the need for developing a plan of action to reduce the impact of natural disasters, wherein the time-factor is considered highly crucial and decisive.

A proposal had been made in January 2005—i.e. several days after the “tsunami disaster”—by the then French president Jacques Chirac to the then Secretary General of United Nations for establishing an international force for humanitarian action for the purpose of mitigating calamities around the world. Moreover, an international plan of action, comprising of various elements, had been adopted by an international conference held in Japan in January 2005. Despite all present efforts, the world remains in need of an effective framework for addressing urgent crises and avoid catastrophic devastation.

Undoubtedly, countries around the world completely empathize with the plight of Haitians and this is reflected in the massive outpouring of financial and philanthropic aid as well as medical and rescue efforts arriving in Haiti to provide assistance in the aftermath of this devastating earthquake. Indeed, according to some well-informed sources, an international conference will be held next March for the reconstruction of Haiti, but it is necessary to coordinate international efforts in terms of providing aid and alleviating the pain and suffering of victims.

Consequently, cooperation among countries must be intensified to alleviate the impact of such natural disasters and give special emphasis must be given to development and installation of early warning systems and related technologies. Undoubtedly, the Haiti earthquake should bring us together to produce efficient, cohesive and workable solutions.