INTERNATIONAL DISASTER RELIEF: Toward a Responsive System by Stephen Green


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In the first of 30 problem-studies scheduled by the 1980s Project/Council on Foreign Relations, Stephen Green--Peace Corps volunteer, UNICEF relief official--posits the increasing severity of national disasters and the declining capability of the most afflicted countries to cope with them; outlines immediate remedies; and makes an impressive proposal for a new Geneva Convention--akin to the 1949 Rules of War--affirming ""the common responsibility of all people and governments to provide protection and relief to the victims of natural disasters."" Disaster relief, in other words, would be a natural right. Green's presentation is clear, succinct, methodical: population concentration, technological fallout, and climatic changes may bring about ""megadisasters""; political considerations--preeminently the reluctance of many poor, disaster-prone countries to acknowledge their magnitude--conspire with administrative weaknesses worldwide to delay or hamper relief. The UN coordinating apparatus must be strengthened (Green explains how), as must each national relief agency--which should have internal control; but suspicions and selfish interests can only be overborne by internationally accepted rules of conduct. Even during the Cuban missile crisis, Green points out, the US and Cuba continued to provide each other with accurate weather data--as part of a prearranged UN plan. A brief, accessible, potentially significant book; among its sponsors are Carter brass W. Michael Blumenthal and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 1977
Publisher: McGraw-Hill