Nauru - Overview

As part of Nauru’s commitments to strengthening resilience under the Hyogo Framework for Action, the Sendai Framework and its Joint National Action Plan, the government reviewed its existing disaster management law with the support regional humanitarian partners. The result was the National Disaster Risk Management Act 2016 (enacted in 2017). This replaced the 2008 legislation. This Act is intended to be complemented by the National Disaster Risk Management Plan but this is not yet available. The status of the 2008 Plan is unclear but, given the new architecture and obligations found in the new Act, it appears to be largely obsolete, although there are currently plans for the NDRM Plan 2008 to be reviewed and updated.


The new law creates a more proactive approach that prioritises preparedness and risk reduction measures. It also sets up a new disaster management architecture in the country. This is headed by the National Disaster Risk Management Council (NDRMC) which is chaired by the responsible Minister (in practice, the President) and comprises Secretaries of governmental departments in addition to representatives from civil society. This body has overall responsibility for disaster management and response. Two sub-committees (the Disaster Risk Reduction Committee and the Recovery Advisory Committee) are responsible for specific aspects of DRR. In addition, the Committee is responsible for establishing Community Disaster Management Committees which must comprise representatives from youth and women’s groups as well as traditional and church leaders. The NDMRC also provides advice to the President on the declaration of and termination of a State of Disaster.


The key management agency for disaster response is the Department of National Emergency Services (NES), whose Secretary is also the National Controller in the event of a disaster event. The NES, established under the act, comprises the key emergency agencies in Nauru and the Nauru Disaster Risk Management Office (NDRMO). The NDRMA also provides for a National Emergency Operations Centre to be utilised in the event of a disaster and provide coordination of response and recovery activities.


The 2016 Act also creates a new chapter on facilitation of international assistance based upon the IDRL Guidelines.
The Republic of Nauru operates a Westminster-style parliamentary system government, as laid out in its Constitution of 1968. The President is elected by, and responsible to, the unicameral parliament and is both head of government and head of state. Nauru does not have formal political parties and candidates typically stand as independents. MPs are elected every three years by universal suffrage. At its first sitting, parliament chooses a speaker, a deputy speaker and chairs of committees before electing the President from among the remaining members. The President then appoints six Ministers to the cabinet which acts as the Executive branch of government. Ministers must be members of Parliament and are collectively responsible to it.


Since the dissolution of the Nauru Island Council (NIC) in 1999, there has been no local government level in Nauru. Local government matters are now the responsibility of the national government.