• Send page

International Review of the Red Cross, 2007, No. 866 – Catastrophic events

The word "catastrophe" is used to signify a brutal event bringing large-scale death and destruction. In that sense, every armed conflict, every natural or technological disaster is a catastrophe. The present issue of the Review looks in particular at the threat of a nuclear, radiological, biological or chemical (NRBC) event. It further discusses the chance of mitigating a catastrophic event by developing emergency preparedness plans and the appropriate response capacity. As local capacities may often be insufficient to deal with a major crisis, international assistance is frequently required. As for NRBC weapons it is especially important to stimulate discussion on how governments can, perhaps together, counter these threats while they still remain hypothetical.

Issue No. 866 - 2007

Theme: Catastrophic events

Table of contents

  • Editorial - IRRC June 2007 No 866
    Toni Pfanner
  • Interview with Maurits R. Jochems
    Ambassador Maurits R. Jochems is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Operations in the International Secretariat of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Governing catastrophes: security, health and humanitarian assistance
    David P. Fidler
    Recent catastrophes, and predictions of an increasing potential for more, have stimulated thinking about the best policy responses to these threats. This article explores how security concepts influence catastrophe governance. It considers how globalization affects thinking about catastrophes, describes ways in which catastrophes have been conceptualized as governance challenges and explains how health and humanitarian assistance experienced “securitization” in the post-Cold War period.
  • Lessons learned? Disasters, rapid change and globalization
    Wolf R. Dombrowsky
    Comparing the two tsunamis of Lisbon in 1775 and of Asia in 2004, the article analyses the different paradigmatic interpretations of “Western” religious and secular causality. Based on the rational concept of risk-making and risk-taking, the need to accept failures and their consequences is discussed as well as the responsibility to develop human strategies for disaster prevention and foster living conditions which may avoid large-scale suffering.
  • Prompt and utter destruction: the Nagasaki disaster and the initial medical relief
    Nobuko Margaret Kosuge
    The article takes an overall look at the initial medical relief activities in Nagasaki after the atomic bomb fell there on 9 August 1945. Although the medical facilities were instantaneously destroyed by the explosion, the surviving doctors and other medical staff did their best to help the victims. When some of the relief workers arrived at the disaster area, the level of radiation was still dangerously high.
  • Humanity amid conflict, terror and catastrophe: hypothetical but possible scenarios
    Anthea Sanyasi
    This article gives an understanding of the nature, scale and complexity of two hypothetical yet possible events and their potentially overwhelming impact upon health, security and socio-economic productivity. It describes a no-warning CBRNE incident and a gradual rising-tide emergency with a newly emerging infectious disease, summarising a range of likely response actions, impact and constraints, particularly for the humanitarian community.
  • Who will assist the victims of use of nuclear, radiological, biological or chemical weapons – and how?
    Dominique Loye, Robin Coupland
    It is uncertain who will assist the victims of use of nuclear, radiological, biological or chemical weapons if an international response is required and how this assistance can be provided without undue risk to those providing it. The use of such weapons presents a variety of risks and the political and security implications are serious and complex. This article shows the difficulties inherent in assisting the victims of use of nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical weapons.
  • Domestic regulation of international humanitarian relief in disasters and armed conflict: a comparative analysis
    David Fisher
    In both disasters and armed conflicts, domestic regulatory control over the entry and operation of international humanitarian relief workers can significantly impact their ability to address the critical needs of affected persons. Although similar problems arise in both contexts, the underlying dynamics and the applicable international law can be quite different. This article analyzes these similarities and differences and suggests distinct steps that might be taken to improve the capacities.
  • Lessons for human rights and humanitarian law in the war on terror: comparing Hamdan and the Israeli Targeted Killings case
    Marko Milanovic
    The article examines and compares two recent judgments which provide some of the most valuable examples of the difficulties surrounding the application of international humanitarian law to the phenomenon of terrorism: the Hamdan judgment of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the Targeted Killings judgment of the Supreme Court of Israel. Both judgments deal with the thresholds of applicability of the law of armed conflict, as well as with the concept of unlawful combatancy and the relationship between human rights law and humanitarian law.
  • The judicial arm of the occupation: the Israeli military courts in the occupied territories
    Sharon Weill
    Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation more than 200,000 cases involving Palestinian civilians were held before military courts. This article aims to examine the preliminary issue of territorial jurisdiction. Through the analysis, a process of judicial domination is revealed. It is a domination that facilitates extensive control of the military authorities over the Palestinian civilian population through its judicial arm.
  • Managing the dead in catastrophes: guiding principles and practical recommendations for first responders
    Morris Tidball-Binz
    In 2006 the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), together with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), published guidelines for the management of the dead, to help improve the management of the dead after catastrophes.
  • A US government response to the International Committee of the Red Cross study Customary International Humanitarian Law
    John B. Bellinger III, William J. Haynes II
  • Customary International Humanitarian Law: a response to US comments
    Jean-Marie Henckaerts
  • Books and articles
    Recent acquisitions of the Library & Research Service