The Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies in RSIS and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) jointly organised the two-part Roundtable on Challenges to Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief in the Asia-Pacific at Copthorne King’s Hotel in Singapore from 22-23 July 2015.
Speakers and participants were from major stakeholders in HADR in the Asia-Pacific, specifically from UN agencies, ASEAN Secretariat, civilian government bodies, militaries, academe, faith-based organisations as well as local and international NGOs.
The first part of the Roundtable focused on two core HADR issues: the protection of and assistance to vulnerable communities in disaster and conflict settings and; the management of HADR in disaster and conflict settings. Speakers and participants deliberated on the emerging challenges for HADR actors and assessing the effectiveness of HADR in recent years. They examined the challenges to the effective delivery of humaniatrian aid and to coordination among key humanitarian actors. They likewise highlighted how the academic community can contribute to finding solutions to the problems faced by the international humanitarian community.
The second part of the Roundtable focused on a specific HADR challenge: gender-based and sexual violence in disaster and conflict settings, with particular focus on identifying the protection needs of victims of GBV and the best practices in assisting victims and managing cases of GBV. Speakers and participants examined the various forms of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in disaster and conflict settings, citing selected case studies in the region in order to scrutinise the root causes of SGBV. They highlighted various best practices and challenges to effective implementation of international, regional and national laws and policies that are aimed at preventing SGBV and protecting the victims of such violence. The Roundtable emphasised the importance of raising public awareness on SGBV, including engaging national authorities on this issue, and of empowering local communities to effectively address SGBV.
The Roundtable concluded with participants brainstorming on three questions on ways to further push the HADR agenda forward: (1) What are the possible ways to overcome taboos that can impede the implementation of policies and programmes addressing protection issues, including sexual and gender-based violence?; (2) How can we consolidate and accelerate awareness/good practices?; and (3) What are the topics that can be included in HADR-focused research and teaching agenda?