New Zealand

International Disaster Response Law in the Pacific

Overview

Legal Preparedness for International Assistance Assessment

1. Does New Zealand have a clear legal framework for disaster risk management which includes procedures relating to international disaster assistance?
Provisions for international assistance are not in the CDEMA but are contained within both the NCDEMP and the Guide to NCDEMP. The NCDEMP states that the National Controller, or the Director, may recommend that international assistance be requested to support the response or recovery and that the Government will approve the use of international assistance through the government crisis management arrangements of the Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC) system. The ODESC system is used by central government in the oversight and governance of national security issues, including during significant crises or security events where consequences of national significance warrant the coordination of all-of-government planning and prioritisation. The objective of international assistance is to enhance New Zealand’s response capacity and capability where required following a large-scale emergency. There is no established threshold to necessitate a request for international assistance. The Guide to the NCDEMP
implies it would be based upon a needs assessment, which would include determining whether the resource or service needed cannot be sourced within New Zealand, as part of a recommendation to the National Controller.

 

Offers and requests for international assistance must be provided to the National Controller for consideration and agreement before acceptance. Further supplementary provisions on these processes are contained in the Guide to NCDEMP and will be detailed in Question 4 below.
2. Do New Zealand’s laws and regulations clearly set out a focal point for coordinating international disaster assistance?
All international assistance, upon arrival to NZ, must be coordinated by the National Controller (who may request other agencies or officials to coordinate particular aspects of this assistance). In addition, in emergencies where MCDEM is the lead agency, the Director or the National Controller may activate an international assistance function to work with relevant agencies to coordinate international assistance.

 

This international assistance function:
• Facilitates the communication and coordination of actions across agencies in respect of  international assistance during an emergency in New Zealand; and
• Receives and collates offers of international assistance; and
• Receives and collates requests for international assistance; and
• When required, matches requests for international assistance with offers of assistance; and
• Communicates through the appropriate channels requests for, and acceptance of, international assistance.

 

The international assistance function is coordinated by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT) and includes representatives from a number of agencies including MCDEM, other government ministries, the New Zealand Red Cross, and the Non-Governmental Organisations Disaster Relief Forum.

 

With respect to bilateral arrangements, MCDEM, in cooperation with MFAT, is to maintain a database of government bilateral response arrangements, while MFAT operates an Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) to receive queries from, and provide information to, the international community. The ECC conveys offers/requests for assistance to/from foreign governments and international organisations.
3. Do New Zealand’s laws and regulations outline the roles and responsibilities of different institutions relating to international disaster assistance?
Appendix 3 of the Guide to NCDEMP sets out the agencies or clusters with roles and responsibilities in Civil Defence and Emergency Management within New Zealand. Those specific bodies with roles and responsibilities relating to international disaster assistance are:
Council of International Development (CID) – the national umbrella agency of international development organisations based in New Zealand. CID exists to support effective high-quality aid and development programmes, with the vision of achieving a sustainable world free from poverty and injustice and also facilitates the Non-Governmental Organisations Disaster Relief Forum (NDRF).

 

Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) – is the lead agency responsible for coordinating the management of emergencies resulting from various hazards, using the arrangements in the NCDEMP and the functions and powers of the Director and the National Controller under the CDEMA. The Ministry may act as a support agency by coordinating the Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) response to any emergency managed by a lead agency.

 

Director – is responsible for informing the Minister and the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (OCDESC) of assistance that is likely to be required for response and recovery operations.

 

National Controller – may be delegated the functions and powers of the Director. These include:
• During a state of national emergency, to direct, control and coordinate for the purposes of CDEM, the use of resources made available under the Plan;
• During an emergency of national significance, to coordinate the national resources to support the local response; and
• During an emergency managed by a lead agency other than the MCDEM, coordinate the CDEM activities in support of the response to that emergency.

 

The National Controller, or the Director, as a member of the ODESC, may recommend that international assistance be requested to support the response or recovery. The Government will approve the use of international assistance through the government crisis management arrangements of the ODESC system.

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) – is the Government’s lead advisor and negotiator on foreign and trade policy, and diplomatic and consular issues. During an emergency the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has responsibilities relating to the welfare of foreign nationals, and matters relating to international assistance to New Zealand.

 

New Zealand Defence Force – the Defence Act 1990 allows the Armed Forces to be made available for the performance of public services and assistance to the civil power in time of emergency, either in New Zealand or elsewhere. During an emergency in New Zealand, the New Zealand Defence Force is a support agency, and support in the form of resources and equipment can be provided.

 

Non-Governmental Organisations Disaster Relief Forum (NDRF) – the CID facilitates the NDRF, an open forum for New Zealand-based NGOs that have an interest and involvement in international humanitarian response and emergency management issues.

 

United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) – is part of the international emergency response system for sudden-onset emergencies. It is designed to help the United Nations and governments of disaster-affected countries during the first phase of a sudden-onset emergency. UNDAC also assists in the coordination of incoming international relief at national level and/or at the site of the emergency.

 

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) – is a United Nations body able to deploy resources at short notice if requested by New Zealand in response to a state of national emergency or an emergency of national significance.

 

International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (ISRAG) – UNOCHA oversees the INSARAG which operates within guidelines encouraging teams to achieve and maintain globally accepted standards. Teams may be assessed and classified using these guidelines, focusing on Management, Search, Rescue, Medical and Canine capabilities. Policy and process requirements endorse border security and immigration controls. New Zealand Fire Service maintains three USAR teams to form one INSARAG heavy classified National Taskforce, and is the operational focal point for INSARAG. MFAT is the political focal point for INSARAG.
4. Do New Zealand’s laws and regulations outline a process for requesting/welcoming offers of international disaster assistance, and for terminating international assistance?
Requirements for requesting international assistance are outlined in the Guide to NCDEMP:
• All requests must be provided to the National Controller for consideration.
• Any request must be accompanied by a recommendation about which country/partner/organisation will be sent the request.
• The Director or National Controller may discuss requests for international assistance with the NSC319 before making a decision.
• Any requests to be made must be signed off by the National Controller with a recommendation about which country/ partner/ organisation will be sent the request. Requests are to be coordinated through the International Assistance Cell.
• MFAT operates an Emergency Coordination Centre. This receives queries from, and provides information to, the international community. It conveys offers/ requests for assistance to/from foreign governments and international organisations.

 

The requirements for accepting offers of international assistance are outlined in the Guide to NCDEMP as follows:
• All offers of international assistance must be provided to National Controller for consideration.
• Some agencies have existing international response arrangements. These agencies must ensure that the International Assistance Cell, in the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC), is aware of any offers of international assistance received from partners. Even when international arrangements exist between agencies, any offers of international assistance must be considered and agreed by the National Controller in advance of that acceptance.
• The Director of CDEM or National Controller may discuss offers received with NSC (via the ODESC system) before making a decision on any offers to be accepted.
• Any offers accepted to be signed off by National Controller.
– MFAT, through its Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC), will use existing lines of communication to foreign governments, partners and international organisations
regarding agreed offers of assistance.

 

Commencement and duration of state of emergency provisions are contained in the CDEMA and states:
• A declaration of a state of emergency must specify the time and date on which the declaration is made.
• A state of emergency comes into force at the time and on the date that a declaration of the state of emergency is made.
• A state of emergency expires seven days after the time and date on which the state of emergency comes into force.
• Nothing prevents the extension of a state of emergency or the termination of a state of emergency.

 

Transition from response to recovery
Part 5A of the CDEMA contains provisions pertaining to Transition Periods. These provisions outline procedures where the Minister may give notice of a national transition period; on the notice of a local transition period; on the commencement and duration of transition periods; on the extension of transition periods; on the termination of transition periods; and on the content and publication of transition period notices and their extensions.

 

Unsolicited Bilateral Donations
As far as possible, the CDEM Group in charge of the particular emergency will not accept donated goods or services unless the Group needs those goods or services and they can be sent directly to the end user.

 

The Donated Goods Management Planning Best Practice Guide 2006 sets out the following general principles for donated goods:
1. Encourage monetary donations.
2. Discourage unsolicited donated goods and services.
3. Establish a donations management system.
4. Encourage volunteers to affiliate with existing organisations.
5. Do New Zealand’s laws and regulations provide for necessary legal facilities to be provided to international assisting actors?
The Guide to NCDEMP states the Director or the National Controller may activate an international assistance function to work with relevant agencies to coordinate international assistance. However the NCDEMP does not outline provisions on the eligibility of international actors for legal facilities or on the legal status and facilities available for international actors.
6. Do New Zealand’s laws and regulations set out quality standards for international assisting actors?
The Principles of International Assistance in the NCDEM Plan state the international assistance must ensure it is consistent with New Zealand laws and regulations; and be based on requests made by the New Zealand Government or be offers that have been accepted by the New Zealand Government. The Plan does not set quality standards for international assisting actors.

 

Provisions for the oversight of international actors
In terms of oversight for international actors, the principles provide that once international assistance arrives in New Zealand, it must be coordinated by the National Controller (who may request other agencies or officials to coordinate particular aspects of this assistance); and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (with the assistance of the New Zealand Red Cross, the New Zealand Police, the Ministry of Health and the New Zealand Customs Service) keeps the international community informed of the safety and whereabouts of foreign nationals.

 

There is also a provision under the Principles to ensure that once an international resource has been requested and mobilised, that it arrives in New Zealand.
7. Do New Zealand’s laws and regulations set out eligibility requirements for international assisting actors to receive legal facilities?
New Zealand’s regulatory framework outlines general provisions for the coordination of international assistance as discussed under Question 2 above, however there appear to be no provisions outlining eligibility requirements for international actors to receive legal provisions, or an application process for such eligibility.
8. Do New Zealand’s laws and regulations establish a specialised unit for expediting the entry of international disaster assistance?
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) operates an Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) to coordinate the response from international assisting actors. The ECC receives queries from, and provides information to both the international community and international organisations (including NGOs). It conveys offers and requests for assistance to or from foreign governments and international organisations directly, via overseas MFAT postings and Foreign Missions, resident in (and accredited to) New Zealand. These channels are also used to provide New Zealand’s response to offers of international assistance (to decline, accept or put on hold) from foreign governments and non-government organisations.

 

The International Assistance Cell (IAC), within the ECC, (operated by MFAT detailed above under Question 2), provides the overarching management of international assistance and can include representation from the NZ Customs Service. In this role it “monitors and records the arrival, movement and departure of approved international assistance”. However, there is there is no apparent specialised unit for expediting the practical entry of international disaster assistance into New Zealand.
9. Do New Zealand’s laws and regulations provide adequate transparency, safeguards and accountability mechanisms governing international disaster relief and initial recovery assistance?
New Zealand’s regulatory framework does not appear to provide specific mechanisms to address anti-fraud measures, the handling of donations from overseas or transparency for international donations. The “normal” legislative framework would apply, particularly the Public Finance Act, which provides the overarching framework for the use of public funds in New Zealand. In practice, all public sector expenditure in New Zealand must accord with generally accepted accounting practices (GAAP) as laid down by the External Standards Board (XSB) and the New Zealand Accounting Standards Board (NZASB).
10. Do New Zealand’s laws and regulations outline procedures for international disaster assistance sent from and transiting through New Zealand?
The Customs and Excise Act 2018 provides for transhipment of items, but this is in general terms and is not specifically catered towards transhipment of disaster relief items. Aside from this provision, there appears to be no specific procedures for international disaster either sent from New Zealand or transiting through New Zealand.

 

New Zealand has adopted the Principles and Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship.

Laws, policies, plans and other resources