MS. SARAH RUHAMA
REPRESENTATIVE OF MALAYSIA
ON ITEM 89: PROTECTION OF PERSONS IN THE EVENT OF DISASTERS
AT THE SIXTH COMMITTEE OF THE 75TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK, 11 NOVEMBER 2020
Malaysia welcomes the continued discussion of the draft articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters (“draft articles”) adopted by the International Law Commission at its sixty-eighth session. We also note the Secretary-General’s compilation of the views of Member States on the draft articles and wish to reference our past comments on this topic.
2. Considering the increasing number of natural disasters, from earthquakes and tsunamis to biological threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the draft articles deal with an increasingly relevant area of public international law. The draft articles serve as a useful guidance for States engaged in disaster relief and humanitarian assistance by setting out, among others, a framework for the reduction of risks of disasters, the duty of the affected state, and the role of external assistance in this respect.
3. Malaysia observes that there is already an existing body of international law or treaties such as the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response that is sufficient to provide the legal underpinnings of disaster risk reduction and response efforts.
4. This in turn is complemented by a broad range of domestic legislation, and policy decisions and directives that more properly fall within the sovereign competence of States. Accordingly, Malaysia considers that the Commission’s work will be most valuable where it assists States to understand and implement their prevailing obligations. As such, Malaysia is of the view that those elements of the draft articles which seek to develop or create new duties or obligations would, for the time being, seem to be more appropriately pursued as best practice principles or guidelines.