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Status of Civil Defence

International Status of Civil Defence

The Civil Defence Organizations in each country have been accorded important status under the United Nations enacted Geneva Convention. The Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention of 12th August, 1949 enumerates the protection accorded to the Civil Defence Volunteers during armed conflicts and defines Civil Defence as:

“Civil Defence” means the performance of some or all of the under-mentioned humanitarian tasks intended to protect the civilian population against the dangers, and to help it to recover from the immediate effects, of hostilities or disasters and also to provide the conditions necessary for its survival.

These tasks are:

  1. warning
  2. evacuation
  3. management of shelters
  4. management of blackout measures
  5. rescue
  6. medical services, including first aid and religious assistance
  7. fire fighting
  8. detection and marking of danger areas
  9. decontamination and similar protective measures
  10. provision of emergency accommodation and supplies
  11. emergency assistance in the restoration and maintenance of order in distressed areas
  12. emergency repair of indispensable public utilities
  13. assistance in the preservation of objects essential for survival
  14. complementary activities necessary to carry out any of the tasks mentioned above, including, but not limited to, planning and organization

The Geneva Convention stipulates “Civil Defence Organizations” as those establishments and other units organized or authorized by competent authorities of a party to the conflict to perform any of the tasks mentioned above and which are assigned and devoted exclusively to such tasks. Civilian Civil Defence Organizations and their personnel shall be respected and protected, subject to the provisions of this Protocol.

The Protocol also lays down the International distinctive sign of Civil Defence which shall be worn by the Civil Defence Personnel and displayed on all its buildings and materials for identification. The International distinctive sign of Civil Defence is an equilateral blue triangle on an orange background when used for the protection of Civil Defence Organizations, their personnel, buildings and materials.

The Civil Defence Organization has been accorded similar status comparable to the International Red Cross/Red Crescent by United Nations and must play a major role in a country’s efforts for speedy response and management of disasters.


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