When disaster strikes, communications links are often disrupted, yet for
relief workers who arrive on the scene these links are essential. Victims of
disasters will now be able to benefit from faster and more effective rescue
operations, thanks to the Tampere Convention on the Provision of
Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations that
came into force 8 January 2005, following the ratification by 30 countries.
Until now, the trans-border use of telecommunication equipment by humanitarian
organizations was often impeded by regulatory barriers that make it extremely
difficult to import and rapidly deploy telecommunications equipment for
emergency without prior consent of the local authorities. The treaty simplifies
the use of life-saving telecommunication equipment.
The Tampere Convention calls on States to facilitate the provision of prompt
telecommunication assistance to mitigate the impact of a disaster, and covers
both the installation and operation of reliable, flexible telecommunication
services. Regulatory barriers that impede the use of telecommunication resources
for disasters are waived. These barriers include the licensing requirements to
use allocated frequencies, restrictions on the import of telecommunication
equipment, as well as limitations on the movement of humanitarian teams.
The Convention describes the procedures for request and provision of
telecommunication assistance, recognizing the right of a State to direct,
control and coordinate assistance provided under the Convention within its
territory. It defines specific elements and aspects of the provision of
telecommunication assistance, such as termination of assistance. It requires
States to make an inventory of the resources – both human and material –
available for disaster mitigation and relief, and to develop a telecommunication
action plan that identifies the steps necessary to deploy those resources.
The ITU, requested by the Operational Coordinator, will assist in fulfilling the
objectives of the Tampere Convention. This life-saving international treaty was
unanimously adopted on 18 June 1998 by the delegates of the 75 countries that
attended the Intergovernmental Conference on Emergency Telecommunications