October 1997

Chapter 11: Civil Emergency Planning

CEP Involvement in Emergency Disaster Assistance

1124. On 9th May 1995, the Council approved the NATO Policy on Cooperation for Disaster Assistance in Peacetime, by which the NATO policy was extended on an equal basis to the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) and Partnership for Peace (PfP) countries. In doing so the Council agreed, inter alia, that:

  1. the standing operating procedures for NATO cooperation in peacetime disaster relief remain valid. If requested to do so by NATO, a Partner, a stricken country or a relevant international organization, NATO should be ready to employ these cooperation procedures, also in case of disasters outside NATO's boundaries;
  2. cooperation among NATO countries, and the harmon-ization of their efforts, is facilitated by the existence in NATO Headquarters of a stand-by mechanism to provide for:
    • rapid dissemination to member countries of official information on the occurrence of a major disaster within the Alliance;
    • expeditious exchange of emergency information among member countries on the assistance needed by the stricken country which may include pharmaceuticals, vaccines, food, clothing, emergency shelter, prefabricated housing, water purification equipment, rescue teams and equipment, medical teams, field emergency hospitals, the services of disaster experts, etc.; and
    • the assistance being furnished bi-laterally to the stricken country from governmental and national voluntary organization sources, either by member or non-member countries, thus decreasing the possibility of unnecessary supplies and duplication, and helping to overcome serious gaps in the provision of critically needed goods.

1125. However, it should be realized that the United Nations (UN) is the prime focal point for the coordination of international disaster relief. NATO does not seek to create an independent role for itself in this field nor duplicate actions of other international organizations. Rather, NATO's role is potentially three-fold:

  • to act when requested as a medium for information sharing and cooperation among NATO member countries, Partner countries and relevant international organizations;
  • to take on any assisting coordinating role as may be identified; and
  • to provide disaster assistance where appropriate NATO resources are available as may be identified.
1126. On the basis of the request for assistance from a stricken NATO or Partner country or from a relevant international organization, the Director of CEP, acting on behalf of the Secretary General will activate the necessary elements of the IS to take steps urgently to promote the necessary assistance. To this end, the Director of the CEP will:

  1. activate the NATO Headquarters' stand-by machinery;
  2. re-transmit to all NATO capitals and NATO Military Authorities (NMAs), as may be necessary, the assistance request and other available information on the disaster;
  3. ensure that information subsequently obtained on assistance available or being furnished bi-laterally by assisting countries and on any additional needs of the stricken member country is relayed to all member countries as appropriate;
  4. take all necessary and urgent steps to facilitate or help expedite the delivery of assistance items requested by the stricken member country and to locate, as far as possible, the items that have been requested and which have not been obtained bi-laterally;
  5. co-ordinate, where appropriate, assistance which might be provided by NMAs;
  6. take the necessary measures to contact, as may be required, for the purpose of obtaining supplemental information, other organizations such as agencies of the UN, the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; and
  7. if specifically requested by the stricken member country, assist it in obtaining the services of experts, not otherwise provided bi-laterally, who would be willing to accept temporary duty assignments in the stricken member country.

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