The ‘Acquis’ of the Council of Europe in the Sphere of Disaster Preparedness and Response

Michał Balcerzak



The article discusses institutional and standard-setting initiatives of the Council of Europe aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of its members states’ actions when responding to natural or man-made disasters. Although the Statute of the Council of Europe itself is silent on tasks in this regard, the organization’s agenda in disaster preparedness and response was developed inter alia through the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement of 1987 (a so-called ‘enlarged partial agreement’), as well as soft-law standards and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on the positive obligations of states under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to life). The article studies the Council of Europe’s activities in this sphere, while noting – in a comparative perspective – the most important developments in international cooperation aimed at disaster prevention and response within the European Union, the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe, as well as the United Nations and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent.


Council of Europe; partial and enlarged agreements; disaster preparedness; disaster response; international disaster law; EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement; European Court of Human Rights

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