Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Governing Disasters: Embracing Human Rights in a Multi-Level, Multi-Duty Bearer, Disaster Governance Landscape

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Abstract:  International and national disaster governance faces multiple challenges given the large variety and amounts of resources, skills and expertise that adequate disaster response commands. Moreover, disasters do not necessarily respect territorial boundaries, or may overwhelm the capacity of any one nation. They may therefore need a truly collective, joint, or even global effort to be overcome. Not seldom, reducing disaster risks and responding to disasters as they occur requires a sustained, concerted and coordinated effort of a broad range of actors, both public and private, acting nationally and internationally, and across the full ‘disaster cycle’. Unfortunately, disaster governance is commonly characterized as patchy, fragmented and inadequate, leading to essential protection gaps for affected communities. In order to strengthen disaster governance, this article first aims to further conceptualize the practice and challenges of ‘disaster governance’, mostly through the lens of ‘Multi-Level Governance’. Secondly, it proposes that disaster governance will greatly benefit from relevant actors more firmly embracing human rights-based approaches, particularly in the context of so-called, emerging ‘multi-duty bearer human rights regimes’.

Keywords:  disasters; human rights; human rights-based approaches; multi-duty bearer human rights regimes; multi-level governance; non-state actors



© Lottie Lane, Marlies Hesselman. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.