Nauru

International Disaster Response Law in the Pacific

Overview

Legal Preparedness for International Assistance Assessment

1. Does Nauru have a clear legal framework for disaster risk management which includes procedures relating to international disaster assistance?
The Disaster Risk Management Act 2016, which repeals the Disaster Risk Management Act 2008, provides a clear framework for disaster risk management. The Act sets out the process for assessment of need for international assistance. This states that in consultation with Cabinet and Council, the Secretary is to make a determination, based on initial estimates, as to whether domestic response capacities are likely to be sufficient. If not, the Secretary may advise the Council that an immediate request be made for international assistance which must be formally submitted to the President for approval.

 

Where a recommendation for international assistance is made, the Secretary must, in consultation with the Council, develop a preliminary list of goods, equipment and services required and make this list available to potential assisting international actors immediately upon the commencement of an international disaster relief period. This list must be updated as new information is received.

 

There are specific provisions in the DRM Act concerning requests for international disaster assistance. These state that the President of Nauru may make a request to specific international actors or make a general request to the international community as a whole. This request must be accompanied by information as to the extent and type of assistance required as well as information on the procedures required for international actors to make offers or provide assistance.
2. Do Nauru‘s laws and regulations clearly set out a focal point for coordinating international disaster assistance?
The Act provides that, once international assisting actors have arrived in Nauru, the Department of National Emergency Services will serve as the focal point agency between the Government and the international actors.238 The Secretary for the Department must inform assisting actors and relevant agencies of rights and responsibilities under this Act.
3. Do Nauru’s laws and regulations outline the roles and responsibilities of different institutions relating to international disaster assistance?
The DRM Act requires that national authorities attempt to integrate the role of international actors into their planning and general mechanisms for coordinating disaster response and, “in particular, facilitate the work of international actors while balancing the urgent needs of affected communities and the necessary safeguards relating to public safety, health, coordination and oversight”.

 

The Secretary for the Department of National Emergency Services must inform international actors and relevant agencies of their rights and responsibilities under this Act.241 The Act also states that no official of Nauru may prevent international actors from acting according to the principles for humanitarian assistance; and international actors must cooperate with any international or regional mechanisms for coordination that have been specifically approved for a particular operation by the Department.

 

General responsibilities of assisting actors are outlined in Division 3 of the Act, which requires assisting actors comply with the principles of international assistance including, respect for the dignity of affected persons, ensuring an appropriate standard for goods and services as well as provisions regarding unsolicited goods, the disposal of unusable goods, nonfunctioning equipment and other waste.
4. Do Nauru’s laws and regulations outline a process for requesting/welcoming offers of international disaster assistance, and for terminating international assistance?
Pursuant to the Act, a request for international assistance may be made by the President on the advice of the Secretary. The request may be made specifically to particular international actors or be a general request to the international community as a whole and must be accompanied by information on the type of assistance required and information on procedures for assisting international actors to make offers or provide assistance.

 

The Act also says that assisting international actors may provide international disaster assistance only if they have made an offer that has been accepted. These offers must be directed to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through Nauruan diplomatic channels, they must indicate the type, amount and duration of assistance to be provided. In the event of a general request for assistance, formal offers do not need to be made, however assistance must comply with the terms of the general request and must inform the Secretary as to the type, amount and duration of assistance to be provided at least 24 hours in advance of their arrival.

 

The Act states that the international disaster relief and initial recovery periods will both commence simultaneously upon the issuance of a request for international disaster assistance under s 37, or upon acceptance of an offer under s 38. The period may continue until terminated. The termination of the international disaster relief period and international initial recovery period occurs if, based on updated needs assessments and other information and in consultation with assisting actors, the Council is satisfied that the need for disaster relief is coming to an end. The Council, through the Secretary, may advise the President to approve a termination date for both periods. The announcement of the termination date must be made to actors no later than 20 days prior to the proposed date; and must include information about anticipated ongoing needs for goods and services related to the initial recovery assistance. When the announcement is made, the Secretary must consult with assisting actors actively involved in disaster relief work in order to reduce any negative impact from the termination and to ensure adequate handover of responsibilities.

 

The termination of the international disaster relief period and international initial recovery period occurs if, based on updated needs assessments and other information and in consultation with assisting actors, the Council is satisfied that the need for disaster relief is coming to an end. In these circumstances the Council, through the Secretary, may advise the President to approve a termination date for both periods. The termination date must be announced to assisting actors no later than 40 days prior to the proposed date. Where an announcement is made, the Secretary must consult with assisting actors actively involved in initial recovery assistance work in order to reduce any negative impact from the termination, and to ensure an adequate handover of responsibilities.

 

The Act strongly discourages the use of unsolicited donations. All international assisting actors are actively encouraged to persuade members of the public interested in contributing to international disaster relief to make financial donations where possible, or only donate those goods expressly requested by Nauru.
5. Do Nauru’s laws and regulations provide for necessary legal facilities to be provided to international assisting actors?
The Act sets out legal status and facilities for eligible actors, providing for entry into Nauru and visa requirements, the registration of medical and health professionals, the recognition of other foreign personal qualifications, and provisions for foreign driving licenses.

 

The Act further sets out that international actors have the legal capacity as may be relevant in providing international disaster relief/ initial recovery assistance in accordance with the laws of Nauru, in particular the capacity to open bank accounts, enter into contracts, acquire and dispose of property, receive and disburse funds, instigate legal proceedings and engage and terminate locally engaged personnel.

 

The supply of disaster relief/initial recovery assistance is exempt from service and similar taxes.
6. Do Nauru’s laws and regulations set out quality standards for international assisting actors?
Assisting actors must ensure that the goods and services they provide are appropriate to the needs and circumstances of persons affected by the disaster. Such assistance must conform to Sphere Project Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response, and, where this is not possible, the assisting actors must inform the Secretary for National Emergency Services.

 

Actors must also ensure that the medications provided must be transported in appropriate conditions at all times to ensure their quality. In addition, they must be at least 24 months from their expiry date upon arrival unless otherwise specifically agreed to by the Secretary for Health and Medical Services. All assisting actors must ensure that goods or equipment that they import, which are or become unusable, are destroyed, recycled or otherwise disposed of in a safe, environmentally sensitive and effective manner.

 

The Customs Act 2014 applies to the importation of consignments of goods and equipment brought into Nauru. Eligible actors must declare all goods and equipment being imported as exclusively for disaster relief, and pack, classify and mark their consignments in accordance with the requirements described in this subdivision. Importation of medication must conform to all applicable Nauruan laws, must be appropriate to the needs of disaster affected persons, and must be legal for use in the country of origin as well as Nauru. Subject to Customs Act 2014, Agricultural Quarantine Act 1999, Quarantine Act 1908, Food Safety Act 2005 and other relevant legislation, food imported to Nauru must not expire within six months of importation and be labelled in English. Finally, vehicles may be imported to Nauru for the purposes of this Act.

 

Goods that have been exempted from fees, duties, taxes or other charges for disaster relief, but have not been used can be retained by eligible actors that are non-profit entities and used or distributed by them for humanitarian, development or charitable purposes (in Nauru) or alternatively, “re-exported, donated or disposed of”.

 

The Council are in charge of monitoring compliance of international assisting actors with the Act, who are to report to the Council, at reasonable intervals, about the disaster relief/ initial recovery assistance they provide.
7. Do Nauru’s laws and regulations set out eligibility requirements for international assisting actors to receive legal facilities?
Nauru’s Act contains a number of provisions for legal facilities for international actors. These legal facilities are only available during the international disaster relief and initial recovery period. Assisting States, relevant intergovernmental organisations, including the UN and other regional organisations, and any other assisting actor the Secretary deems eligible may receive legal facilities without a further application process. A certificate must be provided to these international actors to facilitate access to the legal facilities, by the Secretary.

 

Those not deemed eligible to receive legal facilities under the above criteria may apply for legal facilities as per the process in section 52 of the Act, if they are recognised as a legal person in a foreign country or under international law. This section provides that the eligibility of private businesses for legal facilities will be limited to assistance from which they make no profit or other commercial gain. If eligibility is granted, it will remain valid for two years and legal facilities are only valid during international disaster relief or initial recovery period.

 

All assisting actors seeking eligibility must submit certified copies evidencing their legal personality, name and contact details of authorised representative of the organisation and the address of its headquarters, if any, in Nauru and documentation of previous experience and current capacity in providing disaster relief.  The Secretary of the National Emergency Service must respond to an application for legal facilities by either approving it and issuing a certificate, or giving notice that it has not been approved.
8. Do Nauru’s laws and regulations establish a specialised unit for expediting the entry of international disaster assistance?
Under the NDRMA, the Department of National Emergency Services, as the focus point agency, is tasked with facilitating the processes around international disaster assistance. The Act specifies that in doing so it must promote “the effective facilitation, coordination and oversight of international disaster assistance”. Section 43 also provides obligations upon international assisting actors to coordinate with national, international and regional mechanisms that have been specified by the DNES, while national government officials must not prevent such actors from acting “according to the principles for humanitarian assistance”.

 

However, beyond these general legislative requirements, there are currently no specific provisions for the expediting of entry for international disaster assistance.
9. Do Nauru’s laws and regulations provide adequate transparency, safeguards and accountability mechanisms governing international disaster relief and initial recovery assistance?
The Act provides that internationally donated funds are subject to audit by the Auditor General no later than six months after the termination of the international disaster relief period or three months after the termination of the international initial recovery period.

 

The Act provides a process to follow if there is non-compliance with any of its provisions by an assisting actor.
10. Do Nauru’s laws and regulations outline procedures for international disaster assistance sent from and transiting through Nauru?
The Act provides that where a disaster occurs in another country where international disaster assistance is required, the Government of Nauru may work with assisting international actors for the immediate transit or transhipment of personnel, goods or equipment across or through Nauru. The laws of Nauru will apply in this circumstance.

Laws, policies, plans and other resources