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Allen & Overy LLP – Mitigating The Impact Of Disasters

By Jane Smallman, International Programme Manager - Disaster Relief, Business in the Community

Allen & Overy LLP – Mitigating The Impact Of Disasters

Allen & Overy has developed a suite of legal tools which countries can use to deal with issues that arise in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Social impacts

  • Allen and Overy’s resources have been used by policymakers in Afghanistan, Argentina, Botswana, Cook Islands, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Tajikistan and Tonga.
  • The resources have been used as a basis for comment on pending legislation in 16 other countries.
  • Almost £500,000 worth of Allen & Overy lawyers’ time has been dedicated to this work (all provided pro bono).

Business impacts

  • Provided a rare opportunity for lawyers to take part in a challenging multi-jurisdictional pro bono project, with a wide-reaching and long-term impact.
  • Engaged staff widely in Allen & Overy’s pro bono work and responding to employees’ desire to do more than donate money in the wake of natural disasters.
  • Demonstrated leadership in an area of importance to clients by extending its learning to the commercial sector via BITC, thus improving its reputation and client relationships

Responses to natural disasters are often hindered by legal issues and many countries do not factor issues arising from receiving disaster relief into their legislation. Allen & Overy aimed to address the role of law in mitigating the impact of natural disasters. They created the Model Law and Model Emergency Decree, a ground-breaking new resource in the field of humanitarian law. Available to governments worldwide, these are a model for countries to use to ensure that best use is made of disaster relief assistance.

“Allen & Overy’s work on disaster relief brings together the Red Cross’s experience of humanitarian law issues and intervention in disaster situations, with A&O’s geographic reach and legal knowledge.

“Together our aim has been to produce a series of models, accessible to countries worldwide, that will have a practical impact on disaster preparedness and response, and which can be further developed and delivered with our clients.

“We are proud that the Model Law and Model Emergency Decree are now a key resource for the Red Cross in its discussions with governments worldwide.”

– David Morley, Senior Partner, Allen & Overly LLP

Allen & Overy have worked across the world in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (IFRC), the United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

So far the Model Law has been applied in technical assistance projects in eight countries, and used as a basis for comments on pending legislation in 16 countries. Countries that have collectively suffered 979 natural disasters between 2002 and 2012, have used the resources, according to the University of Louvain’s Em-Dat database.

In order to develop these resources Allen & Overy’s Pro Bono Team identifed regional hubs in Europe, North Africa and Asia and mobilised lawyers from the company’s offices across the world. A dedicated team of lawyers in each hub was responsible for researching all relevant legislation across that region. The North Africa hub also coordinated input from Arabic speaking offices across the Middle East.

Editor’s Note:

Over the coming decades it is expected that both the frequency and intensity of international disasters will continue to increase due to multiple factors including climate change, urban migration, population growth and increased scarcity of natural resources. In the aftermath of a disaster, working closely with governments and the humanitarian community, business expertise, products and services can be utilised to reduce risk, build resilience and provide essential relief to communities affected.

The International Disaster Relief Award, supported by DFID, was created this year to recognise the positive action and relief provided in the immediate aftermath of international disasters by businesses.

The companies awarded a Big Tick in this category confirm that businesses have an important role to play in international disaster relief, risk mitigation and preparedness.

Beyond cash donations, each Big Tick company is using its core business resource to respond to international disasters. Collectively these businesses have helped over 2 million beneficiaries, provided 800 skilled volunteers and given 250,000 working days to support international disaster relief. The following examples demonstrate the significant value and impact businesses have made by working in partnership with humanitarian agencies, governments and disaster prone communities.

The case studies profiled in this series with Business in the Community, provide more detail about the programmes that achieved a Big Tick and those shortlisted for the top accolade.

This blog was previously published on Business in the Community and is reproduced with permission.

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