ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security Report Examines Continuity of Operations After Disaster
WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 7, 2005 – In the wake of Hurricane Katrina a lack of adequate transportation and communication left numerous people stranded, leadership gaps on all levels were exposed, misleading media reports further increased panic and fear, and food and supplies that seemed to trickle into the region made the American public very skeptical of the government’s ability to carry out a national response plan to a disaster – whether man-made or the wrath of Mother Nature.
“Law Amid the Ruins: Doing Business After Disaster” addresses issues, raises questions and offers suggestions on response and recovery planning for a catastrophic event on U.S. soil.
The report is the result of a two-day conference – sponsored by the McCormick Tribune Foundation, and organized by the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, that brought together experts from the government, business, legal, law enforcement, emergency responder, public health, public works and non-profit sectors to examine issues such as a national response plan, interdependency, private sector roles and responsibilities, and the development of a continuity of operations’ strategy.
The views expressed in the report have not been approved by the American Bar Association House of Delegates or Board of Governors and do not represent policy of the association unless expressly noted.
Throughout the conference the focus was on five primary issues:
- While the likelihood of a catastrophic event occurring on U.S. soil is incalculable, an array of scenarios needs to be anticipated and quantified through discussion, coordination and planning.
- A national infrastructure protection and response plan that encompasses all levels of government and the private sector is essential.
- Information and coordination gaps that exist in current continuity plans need to be addressed immediately.
- A strategy to engage and educate the public and private sectors about basic emergency preparedness is needed.
- An effective plan to set realistic and achievable standards and goals is required.
Working off these issues, participants looked at existing plans with respect to their efficiencies and deficiencies; explored what roles and responsibilities might fall on the private sector and what would be the responsibility of the federal, state and local governments; sought to identify the specific legal roles and interactions among state, local and the federal governments; and discussed the critical role media play in educating the public before, during and after an event. Participants agreed that an effective plan requires collaboration.
The conference report will be featured in the October issue of the National Security Law Report, a newsletter published by the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, and will be a program focus at the committee’s “15th Annual Review of the Field of National Security Law” conference in November. To view the conference report in its entirety, and for more information on the upcoming conference, contact Holly McMahon at email@example.com, call or visit our Web site at www.abanet.org/natsecurity/home.
With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law in a democratic society.