ARF Table Top Exercise on Disaster Relief Initial Planning

Co-Chairs’ Summary Report
Initial Planning Conference for the ARF Disaster Relief Desk-top Exercise
Darwin, Australia, 4-7 September 2007
1. Pursuant to the decision of the 14th Ministerial Meeting of the ASEAN Regional
Forum (ARF) held in Manila on 2 August 2007, the Initial Planning Conference for
the ARF disaster relief desk-top exercise was held in Darwin on 4-7 September 2007.
The meeting was co-hosted by Australia and Indonesia and attended by ARF
participants, the ARF Unit of the ASEAN Secretariat and representatives from the
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance and the
International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
2. Representatives from all ARF participants with the exception of Brunei, DPRK,
Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea and Russia were present.
A list of participants appears as ANNEX A. The agenda for the conference appears
Opening Remarks
3. Major General David Morrison, the Head of Military Strategic Commitments for the
Australian Defence Force (ADF) presented on the ADF’s recent work in disaster
relief and recalled cyclone Tracy, which affected the city of Darwin in December
1974. He noted that among the lessons learned from this incident was the need to
improve coordination among supporting agencies. Establishing Standard Operating
Procedures (SOP) would be a crucial first step towards creating such cooperation
among ARF members and the development of SOP for use by all ARF participants
should be seen as the first step towards more effective regional cooperation. On civilmilitary relations, the presentation noted that while civilian agencies had overarching
responsibility for disaster relief efforts, the military often had the best capacity to
respond swiftly to immediate disaster relief needs.
4. Major General Dadi Susanto, the Director-General for Defence Strategy Department
of Defence of Indonesia, delivered welcome remarks and highlighted disaster relief as
a common concern for all ARF members. The presentation noted the importance of
the respect for sovereignty in the promotion of civil-military and inter-agency
coordination among disaster relief stakeholders. Participants were encouraged to
work together through discussion in this forum to develop the ARF SOP for disaster
relief for use in the desk-top exercise in Indonesia next year and to move toward
further practical outcomes in disaster relief cooperation.
Presentations by AusAID and Emergency Management Australia (EMA) and the
Royal Darwin Hospital
5. Mr Garry Dunbar, Director of Humanitarian and Emergency Section, AusAID,
outlined the humanitarian principles of disaster relief, namely: humanity, impartiality,
neutrality and independence from political, economic, military or other objectives.
These were principles taken from the seven principles of the Red Cross and
considered the foundation for humanitarian action undertaken by civilian actors. The
presentation described the role of humanitarian agencies in emergency and disaster
response operations and recognised that military assets were often involved. Based on
the Oslo and UN Guidelines, the presentation noted that the military should be used
as a last resort for disaster relief (noting however that the actual interpretation of the
term ‘last resort’ varies). The presentation also discussed the role of UN agencies,
such as OCHA, WFP, WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR/IOM, as important civilian
resources for disaster relief. The presentation noted that many of these civilian
agencies, including NGOs, were developing common standards on aspects relating to
participation, initial assessment, response, targeting, monitoring and evaluation. The
presentation appears as ANNEX C.
6. Mr Greg Lovell, Director of Planning and Coordination, Emergency Management
Australia (EMA), discussed Australia’s emergency management mechanisms at the
national, municipal and local government levels. Emergency management was
described as a partnership between all levels of government and the community
including prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. The presentation also
noted EMA’s partnership with Indonesia’s national disaster management agency,
Bakornas, and the ongoing work between the two countries to strengthen emergency
response and management systems. The presentation appears as ANNEX D.
7. Dr Malcolm Johnston-Leek from the Royal Darwin Hospital gave a presentation on
the capabilities of the hospital including links with the Rumah Sakit Sanglah in
Denpasar and Singapore General Hospital. The hospital’s national role in disaster
response and preparedness was also discussed. The presentation appears as ANNEX
Presentation by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA)
8. Mr Tony Craig, representing the United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs, provided an overview of the role of the UN in emergency
relief coordination and outlined elements of the international response to
humanitarian emergencies including OCHA and the World Food Programme.
OCHA raised the issue of competition among international humanitarian agencies.
The presentation described a number of key UN and international actors with
different roles and the links between these actors. OCHA’s civil-military
coordination contacts were also outlined. The speaker noted that from the
perspective of OCHA, there was a need to avoid a proliferation of standardised
procedures. However the ARF SOP were viewed as compatible with UN and other
guidance and therefore could be a useful contribution. The presentation appears as
Presentation by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies (IFRC)
9. Ms Victoria Bannon, IDRL Programme Coordinator (Asia Pacific) for the
International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, gave an
overview of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement including: the history,
structure and function of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),
National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (National Societies) and the
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). An outline
of the primary documents used by the IFRC to determine relationships with the
military was also given. The presentation included a briefing on the International
Disaster Response Laws, rules and principles (IDRL), its aims and mandate,
common legal issues in international disaster response and an overview of the
international legal framework. The presentation appears as ANNEX G.
Presentation on the Desk-top Exercise
10. Australia and Indonesia presented a preliminary concept and possible scenario for the
ARF disaster relief desktop exercise to be held at the Navy Command and Staff
College SESKO-AL in Jakarta, mooted for April 2008. It was agreed that Australia
and Indonesia would further discuss possible scenarios for the desktop exercise
focusing on usefully testing the SOPs and taking into account suggestions and
comments of ARF participants. Further updates to the draft scenario will be provided
in forthcoming ARF inter-sessional meetings. A preliminary exercise schedule for the
desktop exercise appears as ANNEX H.
Syndicate Discussion on the Draft SOP
11. The Meeting was divided into three syndicate groups to discuss the draft SOP. The
three syndicates agreed that the current draft ARF SOP would benefit from being
refined over time to ensure the best possible application among ARF members. The
meeting agreed that the ARF SOP should complement internationally agreed
principles in military-to-military and civil-military cooperation. The meeting noted
the importance of existing mechanisms such as the ARF General Guidelines on
Disaster Management and the ASEAN SOP for Regional Standby Arrangements and
Coordination of Joint Disaster Relief and Emergency Response Operation (SASOP),
currently in draft form.
12. The syndicate groups discussed the following important elements to be incorporated
in, and accompany, the ARF SOP:
The principles of how to improve coordination to reduce response time.
b. It was agreed that the ARF SOP would be of most value if applied to the first
stages of the disaster management cycle (focusing on the immediate response
aspects and to a lesser extent on the earlier ‘preparedness’ element). Participants
also agreed that the ARF SOP should focus on the strategic rather than tactical
level and be designed to enhance and simplify multilateral cooperation and
coordination between the affected nation/s and other ARF members.
The ARF SOP should take into account relevant aspects of existing disaster relief
guidelines and SOPs such as the draft IFRC IDRL and the draft SASOP.
Participants discussed the need for an ARF coordination structure and/or centre.
Among the options raised was the possibility of the ARF using existing disaster
relief coordination mechanisms such as the ASEAN Center for Humanitarian
Assistance (AHA Center) and the UNOCHA coordination body. The meeting
stressed that ARF members would have the option to utilise both bilateral and
multilateral channels through the ARF coordination mechanism. The SOP could
include in its annex the terms of reference on the utilisation of the ARF disaster
relief coordination centre if such a centre is established. Furthermore, the meeting
acknowledged that for multilateral cooperation to work efficiently adequate
bilateral agreements and arrangements amongst ARF members needed to be in
e. The need to develop a database with the information including a list of ARF
experts on disaster relief and their areas of expertise, national points of contact,
and resources and regional capacities for ARF participants.
f. Future ARF disaster relief training should include workshops or other ARF
activities focused on improving coordination and the exchange of information
among ARF participants.
g. The ARF SOP should incorporate as annexes existing documents used in the
disaster relief context in regional and international levels.
h. Attaching a template MOU as an annex may also assist ARF members in
ascertaining essential issues that need to be addressed to enable quicker assistance
in the case of a disaster.
i. The ARF SOP should emphasise the military as a supporting component in
disaster relief efforts rather than the lead agency.
j. Participants suggested that a flow-chart illustrating the different phases of disaster
relief may be a useful addition to the SOP.
Practical Demonstration of Disaster Relief Response Assets
13. The Conference participants attended a practical demonstration of disaster relief
response assets provided by 1 Brigade's 1st Combat Engineer Regiment (1 CER).
The practical display included types of equipment and capabilities held within 1 CER
and other units of the Brigade applicable to the provision of assistance to emergency
services locally and internationally as and if required. Capabilities on display
included light, medium and heavy wheeled and tracked plant, water purification
equipment, expedient bridging, search capabilities, army working divers, explosive
ordnance disposal, chemical decontamination and fire fighting appliances.
Other Matters
14. Australia briefed the Meeting on the proposed schedule for the development of the
ARF SOP. ARF members are encouraged to submit further comments on the draft
SOP by the end of October 2007. The revised draft ARF SOP will be prepared in
February 2008 for use in the desk-top exercise.