Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Call for Papers: Disaster Risk Reduction and International Law

A call for papers has been issued for a symposium on "Disaster Risk Reduction and International Law," to be held June 29-July 1, 2017, at the University of Reading. Here's the call:

Disaster Risk Reduction and International Law Symposium

University of Reading, UK - 29 June to 1 July 2017

The changing global landscape

The international community is grappling with the increasing frequency and severity of a broad range of ‘man-made’ and ‘natural’ disasters, through initiatives such as the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, Sustainable Development Goals 2015, and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The current global landscape governing disaster risk reduction (DRR) is therefore in a significant period of evolution. It is likely that the reach of DRR will extend into many different legal regimes, both in the development of ‘soft’ (non-binding policy) and ‘hard’ (formally binding) law governing a broad range of disasters.

Be part of the response

In response to this changing global landscape, a significant symposium will take place at the University of Reading between 29 June and 1 July 2017. It is organised by the University of Reading (School of Law, and the multidisciplinary Walker Institute).

This symposium, which will be framed around the principles and objectives underpinning the Sendai Framework, is a unique opportunity to discuss, debate, inform and progress the development of law, policy and practice governing DRR and disasters at the national, regional and international levels.

Join us and some of the world’s leading academics and professionals

The symposium is designed to bring together a multinational spectrum of participants drawn from across governmental, intergovernmental, private, NGO/civil society, academic and media sectors. Participants will comprise a mixture of those contributing papers and non-contributors informing wider discussions and debate. Whilst the discussions and papers will be framed primarily around international law and policy, other disciplinary perspectives which inform law and policy understanding are welcome also.


A mixture of:

  • Keynote speakers - those confirmed so far include
    - Professor Virginia Murray, Consultant in Global Disaster Risk Reduction Public Health England, UK Government member on the UN International Strategy for Disaster Scientific and Technical Advisory Group since 2008
    - Eduardo Valencia-Ospina, International Law Commission Special Rapporteur on “Protection of Persons in the event of Disasters”
    - Ms Peri Lynne Johnson, Director and Legal Advisor, Office of Legal Affairs, International Atomic Energy Agency.
  • Panel discussions
  • Presentations of leading research
  • Interactive activities
  • Networking opportunities including through the planned social events

Further details of the programme will be available from early 2017. Preliminary details can be found in the symposium flyer: you are welcome to use this flyer to publicise the event on your own web pages or by e-mail to relevant contacts.

Output and Impact

The overarching sought impact is to inform and make recommendations regarding the development of national, regional and international law and policy governing DRR. A significant edited handbook is planned for publication by Cambridge University Press (subject to satisfactory completion of the formal peer review process).

Call for Papers

Papers are invited which examine one or more of the following research questions to be explored during the symposium, which should be framed around key principles and objectives of the Sendai Framework on DRR (see further guidance notes) together with the benchmark indicators recently agreed by the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Indicators and Terminology Relating to Disaster Risk Reduction (November 2016):

(1) What ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ law DRR related norms currently exist within international law, whether more generally or within specific legal regimes?

(2) How will/should DRR related law and policy develop within specific fields of law?

(3) What are the current and potential law, policy and/or practice implications of findings in (1) and/or (2) above, especially in relation to improving the coherence of DRR law at national/regional/ global levels, and associated implementation and enforcement mechanisms?

Adopted approaches should include: (a) regional or country-specific case studies; (b) theoretical/ conceptual frameworks; and/or (c) examples of state/non-state actor practice.

Anyone wishing to present a paper should submit a 500 word abstract outlining their proposed topic(s) together with a personal biography of no more than 200 words to no later than Friday 17 February 2017. Decisions regarding whether or not proposed papers have been accepted will be communicated by mid/late March 2017.

Other key deadlines

(1) 15 June 2017 – submission of invited draft papers to symposium organisers for compilation. NOTE: no hard copies of these papers will be made available during the symposium. All participants will be given a USB memory stick during registration containing digital copies of all symposium materials submitted prior to the inclusion deadline.

(2) 15 July 2017 – notification to symposium organisers by participants wishing to contribute to the planned publication. Confirmation will be given shortly thereafter as to whether or not individual nominated papers have been accepted for inclusion within the planned book (subject to the final submitted version being of satisfactory quality and submitted on time).

(2) 30 November 2017 – submission of fully worked up book chapters to editors.

All notifications, submissions (abstracts, bios, papers, and book chapters) should be sent to


The symposium will take place within the award-winning campus of the University of Reading.

Reading is located approximately 50 km west of London. It is well-served by transport facilities, with fast and frequent rail links to central London, Oxford, Birmingham, Manchester and Southampton and to London/Gatwick airport, a frequent bus service to London's Heathrow airport, and three junctions from the M4 motorway.


The cost for each participant will include use of conference facilities, lunch, soft refreshments, reception and BBQ (29 June), and social/dinner (30 June).

Unfortunately, it will not be possible to offer any discounted symposium rate to participants giving papers.

A number of scholarships may be available too. Please contact the symposium organisers if you wish to be considered for one.

Sponsorship is currently being sought to keep symposium costs for participants to a minimum. Full details will be available in early 2017.


A number of premium en suite single rooms have been provisionally booked in the University of Reading Halls of Residence in close proximity (5-10 minutes walk) to the symposium venue. The cost is £73.20 per night including breakfast. These rooms will be allocated on a first come basis and may be booked directly online. Full payment is required at the time of booking - bookings will open in early 2017, and the booking link will be provided on this page at that time.

Alternatively, you may wish to make your own accommodation arrangements. A list of suggested hotels within the Reading area will be provided in early 2017.


Bookings for symposium attendance and University accommodation may be made online, and will be possible from early 2017. The booking link will be included on this page as it becomes available). Please note that full payment will be necessary at the time of booking.

Notification of Intention to Attend

If you plan to attend the symposium and wish to be notified of when full booking details are available, please e-mail with 'DRR symposium' in the e-mail heading, and we will e-mail you full details as they become available.

For further information, please contact

Additional information for participants wishing to give papers

Framework for Symposium: Sendai Framework on Disater Risk Reduction (DRR) The symposium’s discussions and approach will be framed principally around the Sendai Framework on DRR in a number of ways:

(1) It will adopt the Framework’s broad approach to disaster risk management engaging with the spectrum of ‘natural’ and ‘man-made’ hazards together with related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks.

(2) The adoption of such an all-encompassing approach necessitates the examination of many diverse legal regimes, notably their self-standing relationship with DRR, the increasingly interconnected and interstitial relationship between them in relation to DRR law and policy making, implementation, and enforcement. The symposium expects contributions from across many legal regimes of potential DRR relevance, which will enable examination of the Framework’s seven global targets for which law has a positive role to play in respect of their achievement.

(3) As with the Framework, the symposium will engage with the spectrum of available hard and soft law instruments necessary to achieve its objectives, ranging from national regulations, legislation, bilateral/(sub)regional/international treaties to non-formally binding arrangements and other measures (eg frameworks, guidelines, and codes of practice). It will consider existing, emerging as well as the requirement for new DRR law. Furthermore, the symposium will make recommendations regarding how the current coherence of DRR might be improved at all levels, and associated implementation and enforcement mechanism be strengthened.

(4) The complete disaster risk management cycle will be examined, namely prevention, mitigation, adaptation, preparedness, response, recovery/reconstruction including legal obligations relating to the overall objective to ‘Build Back Better’. Such examination will be informed by the Framework’s guiding principles, eg regarding the appropriate apportionment of state/non-state, public/private, actor responsibilities; accountability; protection of persons and their property, health, livelihoods, etc under but not limited to human rights and development law; improved protection of more vulnerable groups (eg women, children, the elderly and disabled).

Approach The symposium will reflect the Sendai Framework’s broad definitional approach to the concept of ‘disaster’. Consequently, expert substantive contributions are invited across a wide range of legal regimes relevant to DRR, including but not limited to: international human rights law, international refugee law, international environmental law, climate change law, law of the sea, (sustainable) development law, law of armed conflict, international trade law, international investment law, insurance law, planning and construction law, aviation law, space law, together with issues of food/water/energy security, global health, governance, and corruption. Additionally, the contribution of other disciplinary perspectives are being invited which contribute to the development and/or better understanding of the reach of DRR within legal regimes. As such, the adopted approach will be both intra- and inter-disciplinary, reflecting increasing global recognition (but not yet accompanying levels of practice) of the interrelated nature of diverse legal and non-legal disciplines to develop and implement real solutions to these global challenges.

Output and Impact The overarching sought impact is to inform and make recommendations regarding the development of national, regional and international law and policy governing DRR. A significant handbook (250K-300K words) is planned for publication. An initial book proposal has been agreed in principle with Cambridge University Press subject to completion of its peer review process once details of participants’ papers are known. The symposium will strengthen existing networks examining DRR and international law network.