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OAS Calls on Member States to Sign and Ratify the Inter-American Convention to Facilitate Disaster Assistance

  November 25, 2014

The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin, called today on member states of the institution that have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the Inter-American Convention to Facilitate Disaster Assistance, during the inauguration of the Third Hemispheric Meeting of the Inter-American Network for Disaster Mitigation (INDM),"Integrating Disaster Risk Management and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Development Agenda," held at the headquarters of the hemispheric Organization in Washington, DC.

Ambassador Ramdin noted that only six OAS member states have so far ratified the Convention and called on those countries that have not signed or ratified it to "begin this process as soon as possible." In this regard, the OAS Assistant Secretary General highlighted the importance of the Convention for the Hemisphere, noting that it is the "only regional legally binding instrument in the world on matters of humanitarian assistance."

He added that the INDM operates in a spirit of mutual cooperation between states, in tune with the way the OAS works, in order to achieve common goals and overcome challenges in various areas. "The Inter-American Network for Disaster Mitigation provides a forum to share and exchange knowledge and practical experiences, so we can all learn from each other and jointly work towards creating more resilient communities,” said the senior OAS official.

In addition, Ambassador Ramdin said the OAS has a number of tools and instruments to reduce risk and promote collaborative efforts such as the Inter-American Committee on Natural Disaster Reduction (IACNDR) which coordinates within the Inter-American system to address and analyze situations related to natural disasters and others, including the prevention and mitigation of their effects in coordination with member states; with competent national, regional, and international organizations; and with non-governmental organizations. Ramdin also highlighted the progress made in strengthening coordination in this area between the agencies of the Inter-American system and their UN peers.

For his part, the Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the OAS and Chair of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI), Neil Parsan, said that disasters are experienced almost daily that directly affect the lives of communities and human development in those communities. In this regard, he noted that “it is now well established that the extent and duration of the impact of a disaster is a function of the level of preparedness and resilience of a community, a city, or a country.”

In this regard, Ambassador Parsan called for more work to be done on development policies to strengthen the capacities of countries to respond to such problems. The diplomat suggested that states should promote these policies, and as a very specific example, he indicated that a farmer who is planting on steep slopes over buffer zones should not be receiving incentives from the state. Instead, these incentives should be tied to sustainable land management practices. He also said the tax holidays offered to hotels should be tied to the extent to which they protect priceless coastal assets, like coral reefs and mangrove, which help attenuate the effects of storm surges and coastal erosion.

Meanwhile, the Chief of the Risk Management and Adaptation to Climate Change Program, Pablo Gonzalez, related in his speech the dynamics of the Third INDM Hemispheric Meeting, which will feature three panels. The first panel will discuss the "Risk Management and Physical and Environmental Planning,” the second will focus on "Risk Management in Tourism," and the third on "Community-Centered Early Warning Systems."

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The B-Roll of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-513/14