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Co-Chairmen's Summary Report
of the ARF 4th Inter-sessional Meeting on Disaster Relief
Ha Noi, 4-6 May 2000


1.      In accordance with.the Chairman's Statement of the Sixth ASEAN Regional Forum (Singapore, July 27, 1999) and in pursuance of 'the recommendations of the Third Inter-Sessional Meeting on Disaster Relief (Moscow, 11-14 April, 1999), the Fourth ARF Inter-Sessional Meeting on Disaster Relief (ISM-DR) was held in Ha Noi from 4-6 May, 2000.The Meeting was co-chaired by Lt. Gen. Nguyen Huy Hieu, Deputy Minister of National Defense, concurrently Permanent Vice-Chairman of the Viet Nam National Committee for Search and Rescue and Lt. Gen. Stanislav N. Suanov, Deputy Minister for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters of the Russian Federation.

2.     The Meeting was attended by delegations from 20 ARF participants. Representatives of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), participated as resource persons and guest speakers. Most delegations included representatives from respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense as well as other agencies involved in disaster management. The list of participants is attached as Annex A. The updated list of ARF contact points on disaster relief is attached as Annex B.

3.      The Meeting adopted the Agenda, attached as Annex C. The Programme of Activities of the Meeting isattached as Annex D.

4.      The Meeting was opened by H.E. Nguyen Cong Tan, Deputy Prime Minister and concurrently Chairman of the Viet Nam National Committee for Search and Rescue. In his address, Mr. Nguyen Cong Tan pointed out that while national efforts-. play a decisive role in disaster preparedness and disaster relief, international and regional cooperation is also very important. In this regard, he commended the activities of the APF ISM on Disaster Relief. These activities have not only helped enhance mutual understanding and trust among, the participants but also produced many recommendations for effective cooperation, some of which have been implemented to improve disaster management ca ability p both at national and regional level. It is now time to build upon the achieved progress and focus on the implementation of the agreed recommendations.

5.     The major objectives of the Meeting were to continue the exploration of practical ways and means to further broaden and promote effective cooperation; to definea future framework for co-operation in disaster preparedness and disaster relief among the ARF participants, and above all, to further enhance mutual trust and confidence among the ARF participants.

Item 1. Review of the Previous Meetings

6.      Russia briefed the Meeting of the 3rd ISM-DR, held in Moscow, Russia from 11-14 April 1999, as well as the implementation of its recommendations. The Meeting agreed that the 3rd ISM-DR helped to define major areas of possible cooperation in disaster preparedness and relief and that its recommendations were very useful andpractical.

7.      The Meeting was briefed by Thailand on the results of the AR-F Train the Trainers Seminar "Towards Common Approaches to Disaster Relief Training," co-chaired by Thailand and Australia in Bangkok from 25-28 January 2000. The Meeting was of the view that the recommendations of the Seminar be discussed further with a view to bringing, them into implementation by the ARF participants, as they deem appropriate.

Item 2. Exchange of Experience on Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Relief

8.      The Meeting emphasized the importance of inter-agency coordination, especially between the military and civilian agencies in disaster relief. Participants shared the view that in order to ensure smooth and timely coordination between different agencies, its is important, inter alia, to have a steering body comprising of representatives from the concerned agencies and headed by a high ranking figure, and to have clear-cut regulations for inter-agency coordination.

9.      The role of the military in disaster relief within the national boundaries, especially in large-scaled and acute disasters was highlighted by many participants. This attributes to the high mobility, the discipline and the ready-to use equipment and large manpower of the armed forces. Some delegates were of the view that since a focus of the ARF ison confidence building measures, disaster relief co-operation should contribute to enhancing contacts among ARF participants, including military-to-military.

10.     A number of participants made presentations on their national structure and experiences for dealing with natural and man-made disasters. Delegates reiterated theneed to continue co-operation in disaster management among the ARF participants.

Item 3. Exchange on Feasible Means for Future Co-operation, among ARF Participants
             in Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Relief

11.     The Meeting agreed that co-operation in information exchange and experience sharing, is of great importance to the ARF participants in disaster management. In this connection, the participants exchanged views on how to access updated data on- disasters of each country. It was recognized that putting disaster related data onto the Website of individual countries so that others can visit, Is a simple and low-cost but very efficient way. The Meeting appreciated the activities of the ADPC and the ADRC and welcomed their offers to make available facilities of these institutions for the APF participants in information sharing,

12.     The Meeting saw great benefits in utilizing data obtained from satellites in order to forecast and monitor disasters. The Meeting welcomed Russia's willingness in providing the technology of forecasting and monitoring disasters to the interested ARF participants.

13.     Cooperation in Early Warning was considered by the Meeting as a critical component of disaster preparedness and mitigation. To facilitate cooperation in this area the compilation of a list of the Early Warning capabilities of individual countries and information sharing should be carried out soon. The Meeting welcomed the Philippines' confirmation to host a Conference on Enhancing Capacities of Early Warning Systems in September this year and appreciated ADPC's efforts in developing an inventory of Early Warning Systems of the ARF participants.

14.     The Meeting was of the view that mutual assistance among AR.F participants in-disaster relief is of great importance. Participants were encouraged to provide assistance in terms of information, expertise, material, and equipment. The U.S. shared with the Meeting some common forms of requests for assistance from recipient countries in different types of disasters such as fire, flood, typhoon, etc.

15.     The Meeting agreed that networking among agencies directly involved in disaster management should be further enhanced. For this purpose, the List of Contact Points for disaster management among the ARF participants was updated and circulated.

16.     The Meeting saw a big demand and great potential among the ARF participants for disaster relief training. There was intensive information exchange among, the participants on disaster management training institutions and courses, which could be made available for ARF participants. The Meeting agreed that such information exchanges are very useful and should be carried out more frequently and in more details.

17.     The Meeting shared tire view that the existing training, establishments in the region could be utilized to meet tile need for training, in ARF participating countries on bilateral, sub-regional and regional basis. Many participants stressed the need to organize workshops and training courses on specific skills for disaster management.

18.     The Meeting was briefed by Thailand on the latter's Concept Paper concerning Training for Disaster Managers in the ARF participating countries and took note with appreciation the proposal by Thailand to organize the said training programmes, which would address the identified needs of disaster managers in the region and capitalize upon past experiences of disaster management in the ARF participating countries. The Meeting also requested Thailand to submit additional information on the project such as date arid funding to the ARF participants in time for the consideration by the ARF SOM in Bangkok on 17-18 May 2000.

19.     The Meeting was briefed by Singapore on its plan to conduct, together with the US the "Training, Course on Combined Humanitarian Assistance Response" in August 2000 in Singapore within the framework of ISG on CBM subject to approval by the ARF SOM.

20.     The Meeting was briefed by New Zealand and Thailand on their proposal on the Development of a Glossary of Terms on Principles, Concepts and Understandings of Disaster Management, in line with the 3rd - ISM-DR, with a view d to publishing it for the use of AR.F participants. The Meeting welcomed, in principle, the objectives of the project which would help to establish a framework that will assist not only those nations whose primary interest is in response and relief after disasters, but also those who are concerned with more strategic management issues encompassing the analysis and control of natural disasters. Details of the project are set out in the Concept Paper attached as Annex E.

21.     The Meeting agreed that promoting awareness is of importance in disaster preparedness and mitigation, especially for developing countries, where the public awareness of disasters is still low and the government’s capabilities are limited due tofinancial constraints. In order to improve the public awareness, apart from efforts by individual country, support and assistance from other ARF countries and international organizations would be helpful.

22.     The Meeting recognized the complimentary role of regional and international organizations responsible for disaster management. The Meeting was briefed by representatives from the ADPC, ADRC and IFRC as resource persons, on how they can contribute to the ARF activities in the field of disaster preparedness and relief.

Item 4. Future Direction of ARF ISM-DR

23.     The participants exchanged views on the future direction of cooperation within the ARF framework in disaster relief. The Meeting arrived at a broad consensus on future directions for cooperation, focusing on:

  • Exchange of experience and information sharing, in particular update data on disasters and early warning information;

  • Enhancing individual and regional capacities for disaster preparedness and disaster relief through mutual assistance and networking;

  • Training with emphasis on providing specific skills in disaster management; and

  • Promoting, greater awareness of the government agencies and the republic in disaster preparedness and disaster relief.

24.     The Meeting reiterated that ISM-DR contributes significantly to the overall goals of enhancing confidence and mutual trust through practical cooperation in disaster relief among, the ARF participants. Some delegates highlighted the need to keep a balance in pursuing, objectives of ARF cooperation in disaster relief, namely between confidence-building and operational requirements. The Meeting was of the view that the implementations of various activities should be undertaken at a pace comfortable to all.

25.     The Meeting agreed to recommend to the ARF SOM that the Inter-Sessional Meeting on Disaster Relief should continue its activities. It was also agreed that a certain period of time is needed to implement current projects and tabled proposals. The timing of the next ISM-DR will be decided by the ARF participants later. In the meantime, Expert Group Meeting, focusing on specific activities of disaster management may be convened upon the agreement of all the ARF participants. The Meeting encouraged participants to assume co-chairmanship for the next ISM-DR.


26.     The Meeting thanked Viet Nam and Russia for co-chairing, the ISM-DR for two consecutive years, ensuring, that its activities made a significant contribution to the promotion of confidence arid understanding among, the AR.F participants. The Meeting, also expressed appreciation to the Co-Chairs for the hospitality accorded to all the delegations and excellent arrangements made for the success of the Meeting.

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