4TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
OF THE REGIONAL CONSULTATIVE GROUP ON
HUMANITARIAN CIVIL-MILITARY COORDINATION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
The Regional Consultative Group on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination for Asia and the Pacific (RCG) was formed in 2014 as an inter-regional forum designed to engage and connect key disaster management actors from across Asia and the Pacific to hold a meaningful dialogue with military representatives. In late January 2019, the AHA Centre engaged in the RCG’s 4th annual international conference, which took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with over 120 representatives from 26 nations and 24 organisations coming together to share learning and experiences, as well as undertake discussions on strategies for the enhancement of regional cooperation on disaster management.
The 2019’s RCG specifically focuses towards the integral context of civil-military engagement in disaster preparedness and response efforts. It aims to enhance mutual understanding, awareness and integration between civil and military actors in response, with the ultimate aim of predictability for both parties on how the other will work. Discussions revolved around coordination planning, joint civil-military response mechanisms, and information and resource sharing, to determine how each party can mutually benefit from the other’s engagement in humanitarian efforts.
The AHA Centre’s involvement in the RCG is particularly important, due to its coordination role in the disaster-prone region. The RCG has identified 5 countries as having the potential need for large-scale responses of an international nature, of which three are located within ASEAN, alongside Bangladesh and Nepal. The AHA Centre’s engagement works further to promote its overall coordination role in the region, allows it to engage further with both international and military actors, and also adds to the Centre’s understanding of disaster management contexts in other nations that sit outside of ASEAN. Understanding such as this paves the way for potential ASEAN engagement in responses outside of the region, in-line with the final stages of the One ASEAN, One Response vision.
Furthermore, the convention also touches historically sensitive subject, military data-sharing for humanitarian responses. It was highlighted that there would be significant value in humanitarian actors having access to military information during disaster response, as well as the value that could be gained by military actors through accessing information provided by civil stakeholders, such as the information developed by the AHA Centre itself on a regular basis.
Overall, the general consensus was that with increasing local capacity and engagement in disaster management, the international civil-military roles must switch to becoming enablers – not supporters – in countries facing disaster. Promoting local and national-led disaster response, through the strengthening of preparedness, dialogue and predictability in response actions, would ensure that the capacity and efficiency of disaster response only continues to gain momentum across the Asia-Pacific region.
Written by : William Shea | Photo : OCHA ROAP/ Anthony Burke