China / Society

Better int'l law urged for disaster relief

By Zhao Shengnan ( Updated: 2012-06-11 21:04

Asia-Pacific countries called for accelerating the legal construction of armed forces' participation in disaster relief, saying that current international laws are still too incomplete to jointly counter the major natural challenges.

With an efficient command system, fast mobility and outstanding capability, the armed forces play an irreplaceable role in responding to natural disasters, which is still the direct threat to people's life, Rear Admiral Li Ji, deputy chief of the Foreign Affairs Office, China's Defense Ministry, said on Monday.

However, "the international laws relating to disaster relief are incomplete. All these factors constrain the participation in international disaster relief by armed forces", he said.

Li made the remarks while attending the third Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum Seminar on Laws and Regulations on the Participation in International Disaster Relief by Armed Forces in Beijing, which was co-chaired by China, Indonesia and the United States.

The seminar is being held to further study the laws and regulations on the participation in international disaster relief by armed forces. Around 80 representatives from the three countries, other ASEAN Regional Forum members and International Committee of the Red Cross attended the seminar.

The number and diversity of international actions for disaster relief have been increasing, while national legal and regulatory systems are not yet set up to deal with an influx of international assistance in an efficient and effective manner, said William Dwyer, commander of US Coast Guard.

For instance, he said, arcane customs regulations can make rapid importation of humanitarian supplies difficult.

Conflicts may arise between the affected countries and assisting countries on issues such as the protection of affected countries' sovereignty, assisting countries' access and mobility and authority of commanding, said Senior Colonel Wang Mei, a professor with the National Defense University of People's Liberation Army.

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