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PrepCom-2: 17-25 February 2005, Geneva (Switzerland)
Themed sessions on icts for Disaster Relief

World Health Organization (WHO
) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Themed Sessions on ICTs for Disaster Relief

Date:                    22 February 2005
Location:           Palais des Nations, room XI

     13.30 - 14.45
: Panel session on "ICT for Health Action in the Tsunami Crisis," organized by WHO. 
Link to detailed programme. 

     18.15 - 19.30: Panel session on "Telecoms for Disaster Relief: Tampere Convention," organized by ITU.  
         Link to detailed programme, presentations and list of partcipants. 


Background to joint sessions on disaster relief

Disasters, such as the recent tsunami in the Indian Ocean, highlight the importance of preparedness, early warning and effective relief coordination in saving lives. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) play a central role in the disaster relief effort by facilitating the distribution of crucial information between citizens, relief workers and local and international authorities in a fast and reliable manner. Nevertheless, existing regulations can delay critical access to these technologies in a disaster area by
imposing barriers that restrict the import and rapid deployment of emergency telecommunications equipment, the use of the radio-frequency spectrum by humanitarian teams, or that restrain the transit of necessary personnel and telecommunication resources for disaster mitigation and relief. 

The Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations, adopted in June 1998, which entered into force on 8 January 2005, provides a platform to break these barriers through principles that facilitate the use of emergency telecommunications equipment for timely humanitarian assistance. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has for many years been involved  in the coordination and study of telecommunications for disaster relief initiatives (TDR) and participated actively in drafting and promoting the Convention.

Together with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Operational Coordinator of the Convention,  ITU will play a central role in the implementation of the objectives of the Convention, facilitating and supporting the cooperation and coordination of state parties; developing model agreements and diffusing best practices in the provision of telecommunication assistance for disaster relief, as well as collecting and disseminating systems and procedures to facilitate the implementation of the Convention.

Advancing the use of ICT applications in health care, including the provision of humanitarian assistance for disaster relief, is also one of the goals included in the Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action pursued by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), as part of its effort to spread the benefits of ICTs to all aspects of life.  Under this initiative, and under the umbrella of PrepCom-2, the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will host a presentation session on 22 February 2005, to inform participants on the work currently being undertaken by these two United Nations’ organizations and share the experiences of other ICT-based initiatives for disaster relief.


Tampere Convention

The principles of the Tampere Convention have been ratified by
30 countries and are being applied by many non-signatory states as a reference for bilateral or multilateral agreements. A core principle of the Convention is the reduction or removal of regulatory barriers for disaster mitigation and relief, in conformity with national laws. As part of this goal, the Convention establishes procedures for requesting and providing telecommunication assistance, and recognizes the right of a state to supervise all assistance provided within its territory under the Convention. Some of the articles of the Convention also outline specific procedures to deal with the payment of costs, the resolution of disputes, and the provision of privileges, immunities and facilities to non-national individuals and organizations participating in disaster relief operations within the requesting state party, to the extent permitted by its national law.


Foreseeing the need to be prepared, the Convention calls each state party to establish a telecommunication assistance inventory, which shall include all the governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental human and material resources available to provide telecommunication assistance, or to facilitate the use of telecommunication equipment during a disaster relief operation. This inventory must be supported by the development of a telecommunication action plan that identifies the steps needed to deploy those resources. For in-depth information on the Tampere Convention and other organizations involved in ICT-based initiatives for disaster relief, please click on the links below.


Other relevant links and documents on disaster relief

Links to organizations and initiatives

Cellular Emergency Alert Systems Association (CEASA) International






Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation


Télécoms Sans Frontières


UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission  

University of the West Indies - Seismic Research Unit


World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Other articles, documents and presentations

Chairman's report from the WMO WSIS Thematic Meeting on ICT applications in natural disaster reduction, organized during the World Conference on Disaster Reduction held 21 January, 2005 in Kobe, Japan.

Tsunamis early warning system for the Caribbean by the University of the West Indies - Seismic Research Unit

ITU Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) E-Flash  


WSIS PrepCom-2 main page


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