Human Rights and Disasters

South Asia is a region greatly affected by disasters. While most of these are natural occurrences, several are a consequence of human actions and resource mismanagement.Disasters, including those resulting from natural hazards, have severe and long-lasting consequences for the affected persons. Certain individuals and communities - on account of their existing marginalisation and vulnerability - disproportionately suffer the impacts of disasters, both in the immediate aftermath and in the long-term recovery process. These include people living in high risk areas; those residing in inadequate housing conditions; homeless, landless, and internally displaced persons; minorities; historically discriminated communities, such as Dalits/members of Scheduled Castes; indigenous and tribal peoples/adivasis; women; children; persons with disabilities; and, older persons.

Experience has demonstrated, that as bad, if not worse than the disaster, is the prolonged suffering of survivors that results from inadequate protection, response, and rehabilitation. This is a consequence of acts of omission and commission on the part of both state and non-state actors. Human rights violations are exacerbated when relief and rehabilitation measures are not planned and executed from a human rights perspective; are not timely, adequate, and appropriate; and do not take into account the specific needs and concerns of women, children, and other marginalized and vulnerable groups within affected communities.
HLRN's Work and Interventions

Since the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, HLRN has been involved in efforts aimed at promoting, developing, and monitoring human rights standards in disaster management, including relief and rehabilitation. We work with the fundamental premise that the rights to disaster prevention and rehabilitation are human rights and must be recognized and upheld.Our interventions have focused on ensuring that the human rights of affected persons and communities, including their rights to participation, information, and prior informed consent are upheld.

HLRN's work has involved fact-finding missions, preparing compilations and manuals of human rights standards, organizing training workshops, and organizing and co-hosting public hearings and Peoples' Tribunals. HLRN, in collaboration with partners, has also monitored reconstruction processes, especially with regard to post-disaster housing.

News Reports on Human Rights and Disasters
25 July 2016 - The Times of India