Disasters and their management are today central to public and political agendas. Rather than being understood as exclusively acts of God and Nature, natural disasters are increasingly analysed as social vulnerability exposed by natural hazards. A disaster following an earthquake is no longer seen as caused exclusively by tremors, but by poor building standards, ineffective response systems, or miscommunications.
This book argues that the shift in how a disaster is spoken of and managed affects fundamental notions of duty, responsibility and justice. The book considers the role of law in disasters and in particular the regulation of disaster response and the allocation of responsibility in the aftermath of disasters. It argues that traditionally law has approached emergencies, including natural disasters, from a dichotomy of normalcy and emergency. When a disaster occurred, a state of emergency was declared. In the state of emergency norms were replaced by exceptions; democracy by dictatorship; and rights by necessity. However, as the disaster becomes socialized the idea of a clear distinction between normalcy and emergency crumbles. Looking at international and domestic legislation from a range of jurisdictions the book shows how natural disasters are increasingly normalized and increasingly objects of legal regulation and interpretation.
The book will be of great use and interest to scholars and researchers of legal theory, and hazards and disasters.