Collaborative Governance: responding to disasters

ndBuilding on a growing body of economic, social and ethical work in the field of disaster response, recent empirical findings in the area of law & governance have been published examining how communities respond to natural disasters.

The key findings of this research are that where local partnership and knowledge generation and application is ongoing, cohesive, meaningful and inclusive, disaster relief efforts are more targeted, cost-effective, efficient and timely (S. Ali. (2016). Governing Disasters: Engaging Local Populations in Humanitarian Relief, Cambridge University Press).  The findings address an emerging obligation to incorporate local participation in global humanitarian instruments (Ali, S and Kabau, T. (2015) A Human Rights Based Approach to the Global Regulation of Humanitarian Relief: The Emerging Obligation to Incorporate Local Participation, BROOKLYN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW).  The findings also speak to the efficacy of ‘peer presence’ or substantive accompaniment in disaster response and report a statistically significant correlation between the level of “peer” engagement with a local community and perceived effectiveness of response (Ali, S. (2015) Toward Peer Presence in Post-Disaster Governance: An Empirical Study, HASTINGS INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE LAW REVIEW).  In addition, the findings examine the role of non-state actors in the evolution of humanitarian norms (Ali, S and Kabau, T. (2014) Non-State Actors and the Evolution of Humanitarian Norms: Implications of the Sphere Charter in Health and Nutrition Relief, JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LEGAL STUDIES, Brill/Nijhoff), the emergence of crowd-sourced governance in disaster response (Ali, S (2014). Crowd Sourced Governance in a Post Disaster Context, INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE LAW QUARTERLY, Cambridge University Press), and self-governance by humanitarian non-state actors (Ali, S. and Kabau, T. (2014). Self Governance by Humanitarian Non-State Actors in Health and Nutrition Relief, DEPAUL JOURNAL OF HEALTH LAW).  The findings also address the role of transparency rules in addressing polycentric environmental disaster-related disputes (Ali, S. (2015) Asian Disasters, Global Impact: Japan’s Fukushima Disaster and Prospects of Utilizing Investor-State Mediation and UNCITRAL Transparency Rules for Polycentric Environmental Disaster-Related Disputes, ASIAN DISPUTE REVIEW).

The research has been supported by the Hong Kong Research grants council (HKU 757412H). Comments and feedback are most welcome.  Please contact Cambridge Press if your library or University is interested in pre-ordering a copy of the manuscript.


Measuring Success in Devolved Collaboration

A recent article, published in the Journal of Land Use and Environmental Law, Measuring Success in Devolved Collaboration, examines the growing use of “devolved collaboration” to manage and protect community resources.  In recent times, a growing emphasis on participatory mechanisms of resource-based decision making emphasizing “place-based” collaborative processes has emerged in many countries. The article describes how such processes involve stakeholders from the public and private sectors who consult together in order to arrive at shared goals regarding resource use and planning. Collaborative processes arise from a growing dissatisfaction with top-down centralized “announce and defend” decision making policies. Yet, devolved collaboration is not without its challenges. Scholars have identified that devolved collaborative processes must not be indifferent to social, structural, institutional disparities in order for it to realize its potential for equitable decisions. In response, the article suggests structural improvements to the current process of unanimity-based devolved collaboration which includes the use of majority vote in cases where unanimity is not possible, and offers a set of principle-based measures or indicators that can be used at the community level to help assess whether benchmarks of equitable participation are being achieved at the local level.