United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

9 October 1995


Fiftieth session
Agenda item 96 (f)


Early-warning capacities of the United Nations system
with regard to natural disasters

Report of the Secretary-General


     The  present   report  is  submitted   pursuant  to  General   Assembly
resolution  49/22 B of  20 December 1994 and  contains information about the
early-warning capacities within  the United  Nations system  with regard  to
natural  and  similar  disasters  which  have   an  adverse  impact  on  the
environment.  The use of telecommunications in  support of early warning  is
described in  accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1995/47
A of 27 July 1990.

     The   report   reviews   the   current   early-warning   activities  of
organizations  in the  United Nations  system and proposes  improvements and
ways in which they  may be coordinated more  effectively.  Consideration  is
given  to the  roles of  technology  and  telecommunications in  the warning
process.  Conclusions and proposals are made for a process that can lead  to
the  appropriate  transfer  of  technology,  in  particular  to   developing
countries, and for means of contributing  to improved coordination of  early
warning internationally.

95-30351 (E)   231095/...


  Paragraphs  Page

I.  INTRODUCTION ........................................  1 - 184

  A.  The value of early warning ......................  1 - 74

  B.  International interest in early warning .........  8 - 185

II.  THE DISASTER CONTEXT OF EARLY WARNING ...............  19 - 337

  A.  The purpose of early warning ....................  19 - 237

  B.  Effectiveness of early warning ..................  24 - 278

  C.  Disasters, vulnerability and risk ...............  28 - 298

  D.  Hazards .........................................  30 - 339


  A.  Technology and warning practices ................  34 - 3710

  B.  Communications and early warning ................  38 - 4410

  C.  Technological opportunities .....................  45 - 5312


  A.  Early warning for meteorological and hydrological
    hazards .........................................  55 - 6413

  B.  Early warning for geophysical hazards ...........  65 - 6815

  C.  Early warning for environmental hazards .........  69 - 7516

  D.  Early warning for technological hazards .........  76 - 8518

  E.  Review of telecommunications activities .........  86 - 8820

  F.    Review  of  supporting   activities  and  capacity-         building
........................................  89 - 9620

  WARNING .............................................  97 - 11322

  A.  Role of the United Nations ......................  98 - 10622

  B.  International agents for development ............  107 - 11324

 CONTENTS (continued)

  Paragraphs  Page

  NEEDS ...............................................  114 - 13525

  A.  Perceptions of early-warning problems ...........  116 - 11926

  B.  Translating hazard identification into effective
    response ........................................  120 - 12326

  C.  International abilities and national experience .  124 - 12727

  D.  Disseminating the message; communicating early
    warnings ........................................  128 - 13128

  E.  Coordination of international and national
    capabilities ....................................  132 - 13529

VII.  CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS .............................      13629

/...  A/50/526



A.  The value of early warning

1.  The timely  and effective warning of possible disaster is a self-evident
objective,  universally   pursued  by   Governments  and  organizations   in
determining disaster-reduction strategies.   It is critical for  individuals
in  local communities  organizing practical  measures to  protect  their own
lives and property.   Advances in science  and technology have expanded  the
possibilities of anticipating  the effects of  many, but  still not all,  of
the hazards which threaten nearly every country in some way.

2.    As  countries  incorporate  disaster-reduction  policies  into   their
national  social  and   economic  development  plans,  establish   effective
preparedness measures and  improve their  response capacities, the value  of
timely and  effective warnings in  averting losses  and protecting resources
becomes  apparent.  Many  sectors of  a society need to  contribute to these
efforts.    When  they   are  able  to  focus  their  attention  on   mutual
collaboration for effective early warnings, the results can be impressive.

3.   In 1991, government officials  of Andhra Pradesh,  India, were able  to
implement a  previously planned  programme to evacuate  600,000 people  from
the path  of an  approaching cyclone  within 40  hours.   This was  possible
because  the   results  of  meteorological   forecasts  and  warnings   were
communicated through a combination of  advanced and traditional  channels to
people  conversant  with  the  preparedness  plan  from  earlier   community
exercises.  Fatalities numbered less than one tenth of the more than  10,000
people who perished in a similar  cyclone 13 years before.   At that time in
the  same  location, neither  warning,  communications  nor  local  response
capacities were as well established.

4.   Another  example of  successful  early  warning occurred  prior to  the
volcanic eruption of Mt.  Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.  The  results
of sophisticated  scientific monitoring  techniques were translated  rapidly
into a  common public  understanding through  simple means  directly to  the
vulnerable communities.   When these warnings  were coupled  with the timely
implementation of  previously organized preparedness  activities, more  than
350,000  people  were  spared   personal  physical  harm  from  the  largest
explosive volcanic eruption of the twentieth century.

5.   While  not  all  hazards offer  the same  possibility of  prediction or
forewarning,  national  Governments   none  the  less  bear  the   sovereign
responsibility to  the best  of their  abilities to  protect their  citizens
from  disasters.  In this respect, Governments in  their policies, and local
communities  by  their  actions,  display  varying  degrees  of   awareness,
commitment   and   ability   in   adopting   successful   disaster-reduction

6.   Organizations of  the United  Nations system  have shown  long-standing
commitments  to early-warning  programmes.   In some cases,  programmes have
provided an  institutional  base  or framework  for the  identification  and
reporting  of specific  hazards at  international  or  regional levels.   In

others,  they  have been  instrumental in  encouraging  common standards  or
procedures which assist  in the collection, interpretation or  dissemination
of data.  Their activities  frequently transfer technology among specialists
or  between  national  authorities.   Other  programmes  focus  on technical
assistance and training for capacity-building in developing countries.

7.  For all  the recent scientific  and organizational progress made in  the
conceptualizing, establishment and  operation of early-warning systems, both
within  and  beyond  the  United  Nations  system,  early  warning  is still
inadequate for  most of the  world's population.   The technical ability  to
foresee and interpret most  hazards is no longer as  limited as it once was.
Modern communications technologies provide more access to information,  more
quickly.   A major  challenge remains  to ensure that this  knowledge can be
accessible to,  understood by and  acted upon by  local communities  and the
people most directly affected by threatened disasters.

B.  International interest in early warning

8.  Since the proclamation of the International Decade  for Natural Disaster
Reduction by the  General Assembly in its  resolution 44/236 of 22  December
1989, the  International Framework of  Action for  the International  Decade
for Natural  Disaster Reduction, contained in  the annex  to the resolution,
has provided a wider context for  concerted international action to  involve
technical resources and improved  coordination in critical  areas of natural
disaster reduction. Timely and effective warnings  are a basis for  creating
the  culture of prevention  necessary for a safer  world in the twenty-first

9.   During the Conference  on Disaster Communications  held in  May 1991 at
Tampere,  Finland,  the  unequal  access  of  countries  to   communications
technology for effective  early warning was identified.   While many of  the
recommendations  of the Conference addressed  communication requirements for
emergency  response,   one  recommendation  in   particular  encouraged  the
establishment of  mechanisms for  international cooperation  in  the use  of
terrestrial  and satellite  communications  technologies in  the prediction,
monitoring and early warning of disasters. 1/

10.  By  building on the  increasing awareness of disaster  prevention among
countries encouraged by the  International Decade, the  World Conference  on
Natural  Disaster Reduction,  held at  Yokohama, Japan,  from  23 to  27 May
1994,  succeeded in  providing renewed  emphasis  and  focus to  achieve the
goals  of the  Decade.    One of  these  goals, formulated  in the  founding
resolution of  the Decade  (resolution 44/236),  is to provide  by the  year
2000 ready access for  all countries to global, regional, national and local
warning systems and the possibility of broad dissemination of warnings.

11.  In specific terms, the findings of the Yokohama Conference's  Technical
Committee on Warning Systems, organized jointly by  the World Meteorological
Organization  (WMO)  and  the  United  Nations  Educational  Scientific  and
Cultural  Organization   (UNESCO),  provide  expert   guidance  for   future
applications of existing knowledge. 2/

12.  The  primary outcome of  the Conference,  the Yokohama  Strategy for  a
Safer  World:  Guidelines  for Natural Disaster Prevention, Preparedness and
Mitigation, containing the Principles, the Strategy  and Plan of Action,  3/
supplemented by the Yokohama Message 4/  and the recommendations and reports
of  the  Main Committee  and  Technical  Committees  of  the Conference,  5/
constitute a  basis for  concerted international efforts  encouraged by  the
United Nations to improve early warning of disasters.

13.  The Yokohama  Strategy and Plan of Action underscore the importance  of
strengthening  capacities at  local,  national, regional  and  international
levels to  warn of the  possibility of  disaster from  natural phenomena  or
environmentally destructive occurrences.   A principle of the Strategy notes
that    early    warnings    and    their    effective    dissemination   by

telecommunications,  broadcast services  and other means are  key factors to
successful  disaster  prevention  and  preparedness.  The  Strategy   itself
emphasizes,  inter  alia,  the  necessity  for  improved  risk  assessments,
broader monitoring and the communication of forecasts and warnings.

14.  These  forward-looking outputs of the Conference were considered by the
General  Assembly  during  its  forty-ninth  session  and  endorsed  in  its
resolution 49/22 A of 2 December 1994.  The General Assembly recognized  the
specific value of early warning and  effective dissemination as key  factors
to  successful disaster  prevention and  preparedness in all  countries, but
especially for developing countries.

15.    In the  context  of  the  International Decade  for  Natural Disaster
Reduction, the  General  Assembly also  adopted  resolution  49/22 B  of  20
December 1994, in which  it requested the Secretary-General to report to  it
at its  fiftieth  session  on  early-warning capacities  within  the  United
Nations  system.    The  Assembly  also   invited  proposals  on  how  those
capacities might be improved and  better coordinated in order to provide for
an adequate  response to  natural disasters  and similar  disasters with  an
adverse impact on the environment.

16.   In addition,  and by taking account  of chapter 34 of  Agenda 21 6/ as
well  as  the  Principles  of  the  Yokohama  Strategy for  a  Safer  World,
proposals were  invited on  the transfer  of technologies  related to  early
warning, particularly  to developing countries.   Recommendations were  also
requested  on  the capacity  of  the  United  Nations  system to  coordinate
information about  natural and similar disasters,  and how this  information
could  be  passed effectively  to  national,  regional and  sectoral  early-
warning capacities.

17.   Subsequently the Economic and  Social Council,  during its substantive
session of 1995, adopted resolution  1995/47 A of 27 July  1995, in which it
recognized    the    importance    of    reliable    and    hazard-resistant
telecommunications  for disaster  reduction,  in particular  in  support  of
early  warning  at  all  operational  levels.    The  Council  also  invited
proposals from  the SecretaryGeneral for further  improvements in the  field
of disaster-related  telecommunications and  further invited  him to  ensure
close  cooperation between  the  International Framework  of Action  for the
International  Decade for  Natural  Disaster Reduction,  the  Department  of
Humanitarian   Affairs  of   the   United  Nations   Secretariat   and   the
International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

18.  As the world takes a serious  look at development requirements into the
next century, as well as  the means by which resources can best be  utilized
within the  United Nations system, early-warning  strategies provide one  of
the keys  for coordinated  efforts to  protect development  accomplishments.
Improved earlywarning practices can link the  abilities and resources of the
United Nations  system with  the interests  of all  countries in  protecting
human  resources and physical assets.  At the same time, national capacities
for disaster reduction can be created  within those communities most exposed
to natural hazard.


A.  The purpose of early warning

19.   Early warning is  a deceptively  simple notion.  It  can be understood
narrowly as the  means by which a potential  danger is detected or  forecast
and an alert issued.  However,  this leaves unspecified the responsibilities
for the dissemination  of warnings  and the response  which is necessary  to
avoid potential harm or loss.

20.   Warnings  represent  an  added value  and function.   There  are three
abilities which constitute the  basis of early warning.  The first,  largely
a technical ability, is to identify a potential  risk, or the likelihood  of

occurrence,  of  a   hazardous  phenomenon  which  threatens  a   vulnerable
population.   The  second ability  is  that  of identifying  accurately  the
vulnerability of a  population to whom a warning  needs to be directed.  The
third ability,  which requires considerable  social and cultural  awareness,
is the communication of information to  specific recipients about the threat
in sufficient time and  with a sufficient clarity  so that they  take action
to avert negative consequences.

21.  This highlights four components of the warning process:

  (a)  Assessment of the vulnerability of potentially affected people;

  (b)  Detection, interpretation and forecasting of hazards;

  (c)    Formulation  and  dissemination  of warning  messages  to  specific
targeted recipients;

  (d)    The  perception  of  and  reaction  to  warnings  by  the  intended

22.   For the warning to  be successful,  these actions need to  be taken in
sufficient time  in order to save lives, property and livelihoods that would
otherwise be lost to disasters.  Depending on the nature of the hazard,  the
location of  vulnerable people and  assets, and designated  responsibilities
for action, elements of warning systems may be  organized and implemented at
local, national, regional or international levels.

23.  The early-warning  process has to be  interpreted in this broad context
in  order to  address the  General  Assembly's  concern for  improvements in

 B.  Effectiveness of early warning

24.  Warning systems are only  as good as their weakest link.  They can, and
frequently do, fail  in both developing  and developed countries for  any of
four primary reasons.  There  can be a failure  of forecasting, demonstrated
by an inability  to understand a hazard or a failure to  locate it properly,
in time or  space.  There also may  be an ignorance of prevailing conditions
of vulnerability determined  by physical, social, or economic  inadequacies.
A third  possibility can be  a failure to communicate  the threat accurately
or in sufficient time. Finally,  there can be a failure by the recipients of
a warning to understand it, to believe it or to take suitable action.

25.   The capacity  of a Government or  a community to respond  to a warning
can  also be  constrained  by  a range  of practical  as well  as conceptual
limitations. Adequate human, material and technical resources are needed  to
establish and  operate early-warning systems  properly.  This raises choices
as  to  whether to  apply often  scarce  resources  to meet  other competing
priorities within  a society, or  to provide  protection for  assets over  a
longer  period  of time  against  something  which may  only  occur  in  the
unspecified future, or perhaps not at all.

26.     The  functions  of  early   warning  are   accomplished  by  various
professional  or  specialized  groups  in  a  society.    They  include  the
scientific  community,  government  officials,  communications  authorities,
broadcast media,  disastermanagement agencies and  often the military.  Each
of  these  groups  has  its  own  organizational  structure  and  methods of
operation.    The  nature  of  their   regular  responsibilities  does   not
necessarily bring them together to address issues of early warnings.

27.  If a narrow approach to warning is taken by an agency or  organization,
limited to  its  own  area  of  competence  and  with  less  regard  to  the

utilization of  its output  by others,  the reliability  and utility of  the
entire system is diminished.  Therefore,  each phase of the  warning process
must  be accomplished effectively, accurately and in a  timely manner with a
full understanding of  the relationship to the  other parts of the  process.
A  basic indicator of success for early warning is the demonstrated capacity
for joint action among the various contributors.

C.  Disasters, vulnerability and risk

28.   Disasters happen when a  natural phenomenon or unplanned occurrence of
great force strikes a population that is vulnerable  to its effects.  During
the  latter  half  of  the  twentieth  century,  the  results  of scientific
endeavours  have provided  a much  better  understanding about  the  natural
forces which  shape hazards and determine  their behaviour.   Major advances
have  been  made  in  the  capacity  to  anticipate potentially  destructive
natural  phenomena and  in the  use of  communication media to  channel this
knowledge to the people concerned.

29.   At the  same time, rapid  population growth has  increased social  and
economic pressures  on the natural environment  in many  countries.  Natural
features  which  previously  provided  protection  from  hazards  have  been
uprooted or altered.  The growing tendency of people to live on marginal  or
fragile  landscapes or in  conditions of  urban poverty  has increased their
vulnerability to hazards. Despite the best  efforts, only modest gains  have
been registered  in the equitable distribution  of the  benefits of national
development in many countries.  These  issues, along with other unfavourable
social and economic  factors have combined to  increase the number of people
who are  exposed  to  risk and  are therefore  at risk  -  from natural  and
similar disasters.

D.  Hazards

30.  With the exception of  earthquakes, it has become  technically possible
to  anticipate  the  occurrence  of  most  disasters  arising  from  natural
hazards,  although the  time of  forewarning  and  the range  of appropriate
responses to  the risk varies with  the individual hazard.   With regard  to
human-induced  hazards,   which  could  have   an  adverse   impact  on  the
environment, greater complexity and our still evolving  knowledge make their
identification and forewarning more demanding.

31.   In  considering the  early warning  of natural  disasters and  similar
disasters with  an  adverse impact  on  the  environment, as  stipulated  in
General  Assembly resolution 49/22  B, the  present report  does not include
disasters  arising from  extreme social, ethnic or  political disparities or
conflict situations which  may induce large population displacements.  Other
slowly   evolving  factors   which  may   constitute  forms   of   long-term
environmental  modification and  potential future  hazards, such  as  global
warming  and rising sealevels,  are also  beyond the  scope of early-warning
concerns covered by the report.

32.  The following  categories reflect the types of hazards reviewed in  the
present report and  addressed by early-warning capacities within the  United

  (a)  Meteorological and hydrological hazards, including floods,  droughts,
all  types  of storms,  cyclones/typhoons/hurricanes,  weather  and  climate

  (b)    Geophysical hazards,  including  earthquakes,  landslides, volcanic
activity, mudflows, tsunamis;

  (c)  Environmental  hazards, including erosion,  drought, desertification,
wildfire, infestation;

  (d)   Technological  hazards, including  accidental nuclear,  chemical  or
industrial release, structural or infrastructural systems failure.

33.   While  the  above  categorization is  of  assistance for  a review  of
existing warning systems, it  should be noted that one type of disaster  can
trigger  others, as  in  the case  of an  earthquake resulting  in flooding,
urban fire or technological emergencies.   The users of warning systems need
to  be aware  of the  possibility for  multiple  hazards and  their compound


A.  Technology and warning practices

34.   New technologies  can provide  better understanding  about hazards and
can lead to  improved accuracy  in forecasting.   The wider availability  of
information  collection, storage, retrieval  and dissemination by electronic
means  has   facilitated  the  exchange   of  information  among   technical
specialists and provided increased preparatory lead  times.  None the  less,
both  industrialized  and   developing  countries  still  need  to   arrange
effective regulatory, institutional  and agreed professional  procedures for
the useful  application  of those  technologies  that  are available.    The
challenge in applying technology to disaster  reduction is less a  matter of
its  availability  or  suitability,  than  a  need  to  understand  it,  the
associated costs and the working relationships among intended users.

35.    As   the  costs  of  innovations  are  reduced  and  the  operational
requirements   of   technology   become   simplified,   advanced   technical
applications  will  become more  widespread  in  early  warning.   With  the
acquisition  of  additional  technical skills  and  the  spread  of personal
computers,  disaster managers  at local  community levels  can access  user-
oriented technologies  such as  decision-support systems  that can  evaluate
different scenarios  for populations  and property  at risk.   As access  to
more information  increases, however, information  management will become  a
major factor.

36.   With the rapid advance  of technology, it  is necessary  to recall who
the primary recipients  of early  warnings are and  the conditions in  which
many  of them  live.   In  many prevailing  social and  economic conditions,
traditional  systems  provide  the primary  services  and  means  for  early
warning.   They can become  more effective if actively  promoted and refined
for  this  purpose,  especially  if  they  relate  to traditional  disaster-
reduction knowledge accumulated within local communities.

37.    In  contrast  to  the   introduction  of  costly  and   sophisticated
innovations, the improvement  or partial updating of existing capacities may
be  more costeffective.   In  order to  ensure an  equitable development  of
early-warning  capacities world wide, there  is a need to recognize both the
relative  values   of  traditional   systems  and  the   benefits  of   more
sophisticated  technologies.  It  is equally  important to  ensure that each
type can be adapted, and that they can interact, when appropriate.

B.  Communications and early warning

38.   There are essentially three  types of  communications systems involved
in  the early-warning process.   The  first focuses on the  detection of the
hazard  and  the   assessment  of  any  risk  which   it  may  pose.     The
communications component is the telemetry associated  with the relay of data
and  information  from   observing  technologies  to  scientists  or   other
specialists  of the phenomenon.   These  systems are  generally dedicated to
the particular applications of the discipline  concerned and managed by  its
scientific establishment.

 39.   The  second level  of  communication  links the  technical  community

familiar with the hazard to the  body of officials, politicians,  government
agencies or other  organizations which  are responsible for determining  the
relevance  of hazard  data to  populations at  risk.   In order for  them to
carry out  this responsibility  of informing  about an  imminent threat  and
mobilizing appropriate  preparedness and  response measures,  communications
among the primary  actors are  essential.  These  actors may include  civil-
defence authorities,  selected ministries, technical  agencies and  possibly
military authorities.  In this area,  communications systems are  frequently
dedicated  for the purpose  and managed  independently of  regular public or
communications services.

40.    The third,  and  ultimately  most  critical  stage of  communications
relates to  conveying  warnings and  information  to  the public  and  local
communities.  Some elements  of these networks may  be managed by  privately
owned or  commercial  broadcasting entities,  while others  are operated  by
local  or national authorities.  The utility of these networks varies widely
from country to country and even within countries.

41.  Some advanced communications systems can  transmit data to an automated
facility,  from which  they are  re-transmitted  to  the public  without any
additional  human action.   They can  also activate  automatic procedures in
order to  halt critical systems  through electronic means.   It is important
that  these technological  possibilities  provide the  information  that  is
relevant  to  a specific  audience.    This  is an  important  human element
requiring insight and understanding  of local political, cultural and social

42.   The communications  necessary for  effective warnings  are those which
are in place and operational  prior to the onset of  a hazard.   While there
is a  need for basic operational  reliability, many  established and routine
forms of  communication can  be utilized  effectively for  early warning  if
there  is  an  official recognition  of  their  utility  and  organizational
planning to  do so. National telephone  systems and  existing radio networks
of national agencies can  be effective instruments  for this purpose.   This
point  is  easily confused  with  other,  quite  different requirements  for
emergency  communications necessary  in  the subsequent  rescue  and  relief
phases of  disaster management,  after the  disaster has  occurred and  when
previously existing means of communication may have become inoperable.

43.   Satellite and  other technologically  advanced communications  systems
have proved  their worth in disaster  detection, analysis and  preparedness,
as  well as  response,  but it  is nevertheless  important  to  relate these
systems to the terrestrial systems, which  are still the most characteristic
means  of communication within  many developing  countries.   The ability of
many people to provide for their own protection  will continue to depend  on
local and familiar means of communication.

44.    Many  villages throughout  the  world  will  continue  to  use  radio
broadcasts,   telephones,   church   bells,    gongs,   gunshots,    sirens,
loudspeakers, flags, marketplace  public notices, instructions given by  the
mayor and  other routine forms  to convey  local warnings.   Ultimately, the
added  value of  technology lies  in  its  effective marriage  with existing
forms of  communication to  enhance the  accessibility and  to increase  the
understanding of warnings by a greater number of people.

C.  Technological opportunities

45.  Relevant technological applications for  improved warnings can best  be
considered by  relating them  to the  primary functions  of warning  systems
(see  paras. 20-21  above).    As the  respective  needs differ,  so do  the
opportunities for possible transfer of technology.

46.   Satellites, through  their continuous  coverage of  the globe, provide
essential   information  that   can   lead  to   effective   detection   and
interpretation of  many hazards.   The ability  of meteorological satellites

to monitor  the atmosphere continuously and  to communicate  varied types of
data easily have made them a mainstay in the identification and analysis  of
meteorological  and  hydrological  conditions.    With  their well-developed
technology and relative simplicity in reporting,  the use of satellites  for
transmission  of data is  one way of reducing  costs while greatly enhancing
the efficiency  of  in-country communications  for early  warning, once  the
expensive capital costs are  met.  The utility of their products is evident,
for  example, in the  photographs of cloud  cover which  appear regularly in
newspapers and other forms of media throughout much of the world.

47.    Airborne  and  satellite  remote-sensing  techniques such  as  aerial
photography, imaging  radar  and  multi-spectral  scanning  represent  other
tools  which can improve hazard detection and analysis.  They can be used to
observe, map  and monitor  features and  phenomena on  the earth's  surface.
Data  can  be  provided  or  changes  measured  for  estimating  rainfall or
observing possible indicators of  drought or infestation.  Experimental work
continues  to  expand  satellite  observation  for  flood  forecasting   and
identification  of  possible  landslide  warnings  and  in  contributing  to
experimental   efforts  of  earthquake  prediction   and  possible  volcanic

48.   Sophisticated  analytical remote-sensing  tools have  been  married to
simplified  graphical representations  that  are able  to  provide  packaged
information  for  particular  locations  or  purposes.    When  linked  with
personalcomputer   technology    and   the    possibility   of    electronic
communications,  the  information   becomes  highly   portable  and   widely
accessible.  While vast amounts of  information can be generated,  compilers
or packaged information can  tailor the amount of  data or the complexity of
its presentation to match the requirements and skills of end-users.

49.  As the  judgements and decision processes  of experts and large amounts
of scientific information  can be compiled in computerized decision  support
systems and disseminated at minimal cost,  there is an expanding opportunity
to   translate  specialist   knowledge  into   forms  suitable   for   local
applications.   The  development of  CD-ROM  technology  in connection  with
personal-computer  applications   can  bridge   technical  information  gaps
economically  in many  countries.   Expert systems  can be  used to  provide
guidance  for  decision-making   by  disaster  managers  or  in  guiding  an
appropriate response for specific types of warnings.
  50.   The combination of remote-sensing  data with  global positioning and
geographic information systems (GIS) can provide  a powerful means for  more
precise interpretation  of  data if  a  sufficient  level of  expertise  and
technical  resources is  available.    The technology  can relate  important
community  facilities   graphically  to  areas   of  potential  hazards   to
facilitate  the  preparation  of  the  risk  maps  which  are  essential for
planning effective preparedness  and response measures.  These  technologies
can also be  applied to provide a more  refined analysis of terrain  factors
to identify potential mountain hazards.

51.   As  the  forecasting of  natural hazards  relies  on the  analysis  of
mathematical   models   and   verifiable   environmental   conditions,   any
opportunity for  new or additional information  to update  and develop these
references further  is important.   The  availability of  more precise  data
generated  by any  advanced technology  contributes  to potential  gains  in
warning  accuracy through  improved interpretive  skills.   Applications  of
space technology,  especially,  have  provided a  dramatic increase  in  the
possibility   of   monitoring   and   improving   understanding  about   the
relationships  between  the   earth's  physical,  chemical  and   biological
interactions in the atmosphere, oceans and land areas.

52.  A  regional remote-sensing project in  support of the early-warning and
food  security  system  for  the  11   countries  of  the  Southern   Africa
Development  Community   (SADC)  provides  an   example  of  how   technical
assistance  can support regional and national warning capabilities.  Started
in 1988, the project has established  an operational information system able
to process satellite  and space  technology data  into information  products

disseminated   among  SADC  countries  over  electronic  mail  links.    GIS
applications  are  used  to  support  regional  and  national  early-warning
systems.   The use  of electronic  mail and  an  inexpensive combination  of
hardware  and  software   allows  individual  country  agencies  to   access
information materials throughout the region.

53.  The project  has been able to  apply modern applications of technology,
but  without losing a  human dimension in  creating a  sustainable basis for
the programme.   All of the technical support and  necessary backstopping is
to be met from within the shared capacities of the SADC countries.


54.  Within  the United Nations system  there are numerous activities  which
contribute  to different aspects of  the early-warning process.  A review of
the purposes, primary actors and perceived  strengths or relative weaknesses
of  various  programmes  is  contained  in  a  technical  information  paper
prepared  by  the  secretariat  of  the  International  Decade  for  Natural
Disaster Reduction.    The summary  given  here  indicates the  breadth  and
diversity of the commitment of the United Nations to early warning.

A.  Early warning for meteorological and hydrological hazards

55.  Early-warning systems  can have a marked effect on reducing  fatalities
associated with meteorological and hydrological disasters.   In the 30 years
between  1900 and  1929, hurricanes  killed more  than 10,000 people  in the
United  States of  America.   In the  period from  1947 to 1975,  fewer than
2,000 died despite  similar occurrences of the hazard.   By 1992,  as one of
the most  powerful storms  to hit  the North  American coastline,  hurricane
Andrew caused more  than $20 billion in damages  but caused only 23  deaths,
in a striking testimony of the effectiveness of early-warning systems.

56.  In  spite of larger and more  concentrated populations living in  areas
of risk, these accomplishments  have been made possible  by means of  faster
transmission  of more data,  improved forecasting, the composition of better
warnings  and effective communication  of information  to the  public.  Most
importantly,  the warning  process is  integrated into  organized  emergency
planning and effective community response programmes.

57.   A  consistent global  approach within  the United  Nations  system has
yielded   beneficial   returns   on   investments   in  meteorological   and
hydrological  warning   activities.     The  World   Weather  Watch   (WWW),
coordinated by  the World  Meteorological Organization (WMO),  is a  telling
example  of global cooperation  in the collection, analysis and distribution
of  vital weather  information and  forecasts.   Standardized  communication
systems,  protocols  for the  presentation  of  observed data  and processed
information and  a common terminology, all  developed under  the auspices of
WMO, have been the keys to universal acceptance and usefulness.

58.   The coordinated  efforts of national  systems comprise  the three main
components of  the World Weather Watch system.  The  Global Observing System
observes  and measures  meteorological conditions  by  air, land,  sea,  and
space,  providing  data  and information  needed by  a  country for  its own
weather  services  on a  daily  basis,  in  addition  to forecasting  severe
events.  The associated Global Data  Processing System consists of a network
of global and regional  dataprocessing centres which  produce daily  weather
analysis,  forecasts  and  guidance  for  weather  advisories.    These  are
disseminated   world   wide    by   the   third   component,   the    Global
Telecommunications   System.     The  experience   gained  over   30   years
demonstrates the utility  of free and  unrestricted exchange  of information
through  a dedicated  global means  of  communication linked  to  individual
national technical agencies.

59.  The Twelfth World Congress of WMO  provided additional emphasis for the

organizations' role in fostering inter-agency coordination related to  early
warning.   Member countries  encouraged WMO  to provide  the benefit  of its
specialist  knowledge, information  and  operational  structures related  to
meteorology  and hydrology  in support  of United  Nations  humanitarian and
relief efforts  before, during and after  natural disasters  and other forms
of crisis.  This important organizational initiative underlined the types of
effort which  can foster  greater synergies  among specialized  agencies for
common benefit.

60.   WMO  has established coordination mechanisms  to provide comprehensive
coverage  and early-warning  capability for  tropical cyclones  through  the
regionally   coordinated  actions   of  the   Tropical   Cyclone  Programme.
Activities  are  accomplished  in association  with  national meteorological
services located in the six affected regional ocean basins of the world  and
in the  Asia and the  Pacific region, with  the additional collaboration  of
the  United Nations Economic and  Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

61.  The WMO programme assists member  countries in upgrading their national
forecast  and warning  services  for tropical  cyclones and  related hazards
through regionally coordinated systems.  An  important part of the  strategy
is  the encouragement of country authorities to  establish national disaster
prevention  and  preparedness  measures  and  the  promotion  of   effective
community  responses to  warnings.   In  recognition  of the  vital role  of
national meteorological  services in  providing warnings  of severe  weather
events to the  community, WMO's Public  Weather Services  Programme includes
specific  projects directed  at  strengthening the  capacities  of  national
meteorological  services and in  raising the  awareness and  level of public
understanding about the services provided.

62.   The Hydrology  and Water  Resources Programme  of WMO is  a world-wide
network  of flood  forecasting systems  consisting  of data  collection  and
transmission  systems  linked  in  real  time  to  national  and  basin-wide
forecasting centres.   As  with WWW,  the systems  are operated by  national
agencies  of  the  countries  concerned,  working  within  a  common  agreed
framework of functions  and reporting standards.  Warnings are  disseminated
within the relevant basin area by the technical facilities concerned.

63.   The  current development  of  the  World Hydrological  Cycle Observing
System by WMO,  with the support of the World Bank and others,  will help to
coordinate bilateral  and multilateral  contributions at both  international
and regional  levels to  further the coordination and  technical consistency
of water resource systems in the  developing countries within the  Hydrology
and Water Resources Programme.

64.  The African Centre for  Meteorological Applications to Development  and
the Drought  Monitoring Programme in Eastern  and Southern  Africa are other
examples  of  regional  programmes  initiated  by  WMO  to  develop  hazard-
monitoring   capabilities  linked   to   longer-term   national  development
objectives  within  a   geographical  area.    Through  ongoing   assessment
activities  and  the production  of  medium-term  forecasts  appropriate  to
climatological  and  drought  hazards,   these  programmes  demonstrate  the
potential   social  and  economic   significance  of  technical  cooperation
motivated by early-warning initiatives.

B.  Early warning for geophysical hazards

65.   Given  the nature  of the  phenomena, the  opportunities for  accurate
prediction and  warnings  of geophysical  hazardous events  are limited  and
earthquake prediction is not yet possible.   Advances in scientific research
have improved the interpretation of critical  stages in preliminary volcanic
activity, although that alone does not  prevent disasters, as was tragically
demonstrated in  1985 by the Nevada del Ruiz volcanic  mudslide in Colombia.
There  can  be a  brief  warning period  prior  to the  effects  of a  local
tsunami,  or several  hours'  notice  provided  for ocean-wide  warnings  of

tsunami events.   In  either case,  warnings are  useful only to  the extent
that response mechanisms can act at short notice.

 66.  There is no global,  comprehensive identification or warning structure
within  the  United Nations  system  for  geophysical  hazards.   There  is,
however, the  hazard-specific Pacific  Tsunami Warning  System organized  by
the  Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission  (IOC) of  UNESCO.  From the
Pacific  Tsunami Warning Centre  in Hawaii,  the programme  monitors seismic
and  tidal reporting  stations spread  among 26  participating countries  to
detect  and locate  earthquakes in  the  Pacific  region which  may generate

67.   Warning and information bulletins  are issued rapidly  through the WMO
Global   Telecommunications   System    and   in   conjunction   with    the
telecommunications network  of the  international aeronautical  systems.   A
variety of local visual and auditory  warning signals then alert populations
in potentially  affected areas.  Public education  and awareness  activities
have proved  to be  essential in  the countries  concerned, and  information
guides are  prepared to support education,  operations and  field studies of
the specific hazard.

68.   While there is no  comprehensive international programme for the early
warning of geophysical hazards, there are some internationally  acknowledged
technical  facilities  or  national  agencies  which  collect,  analyse  and
disseminate information regarding global  seismic and volcanic  events.  The
Global  Volcanism  Network of  the  Smithsonian  Institution  in the  United
States,  the National  Earthquake Information  Centre of  the United  States
Geological  Survey and the  International Seismological Centre in the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and  Northern Ireland are three such examples which
provide information world wide. While these  and other agencies monitor  and
document seismic  events, and UNESCO is  active in  supporting activities in
geophysical  activities,  there  remains  an  unmet  need  for  the   global
consolidation of  geophysical disaster awareness,  reduction and support  to
national capacity-building, as is evident with other types of hazards.

C.  Early warning for environmental hazards

69.  Droughts  develop from a complex interaction of factors, including land
use,  water  management  practices,  weather  and  many   aspects  of  human
activity. Agricultural  production and other  relationships between economic
or social requirements of a society and the  environment can be affected  by
disruptive  factors such  as  pests,  erosion, pollution  or severe  weather
conditions which occur over long or short periods of time.  Because of  this
complexity  and uncertainties  about  human actions,  early  warnings  about
environmental hazards must be sensitive to  many variables.  The  monitoring
of  potential  hazard  indicators,  the  formulation  of  warnings  and  the
identification of  appropriate response mechanisms for environmental hazards
all  require a  broad range of  organizational involvement and  a variety of
professional abilities.

70.    The  Global  Information  and  Early   Warning  System  on  Food  and
Agriculture  (GIEWS) operated by  the Food  and Agriculture  Organization of
the United  Nations (FAO)  is a comprehensive  international warning  system
for crop  and food  supply conditions.   It monitors the  international crop
and  food supply/demand conditions  and the  factors likely  to affect them.
It  identifies  countries  and  regions  where  food  shortages  may  become
imminent and  maintains continuous  assessments of  possible emergency  food
needs, maintaining close liaison with the World Food Programme (WFP) in  the
process.  Satellite data are used extensively to monitor crop conditions.

71.   FAO  receives monthly  reports  of  demand requirements  and  cropping
conditions  from FAO  member  countries;  this is  augmented  by  additional
information  obtained from  other United Nations organizations  such as WFP,
WMO, the World Health  Organization (WHO), the Office of the United  Nations
High  Commissioner for  Refugees  (UNHCR), the  United  Nations  Development

Programme (UNDP)  and the Department of  Humanitarian Affairs  of the United
Nations  Secretariat, special  joint  assessment missions,  and  from  other
contributors  outside  the  United  Nations.    The  programme  disseminates
forecasts  and  reports ongoing  assessments  to Governments,  international
organizations, scientific  and private institutions  and others world  wide.
Special country alerts are issued in cases of  the rapid deterioration of  a
country's food security situation.

72.  FAO also supports regional  initiatives that monitor additional threats
to  food supplies.   The  FAO  Desert  Locust Information  Service monitors,
analyses  and  disseminates  information  about  the  locust  situation   in
affected countries,  in conjunction with  associated weather and  vegetation
conditions.  Use  is made of  satellite remote  sensing, GIS and  analytical
models  of   locust  behaviour  to   provide  forecasts  and   early-warning
information.   The FAO Emergency Prevention Systems for Transboundary Animal
and  Plant  Diseases  for   Desert  Locust  Component  is  another  regional
programme which alerts and supports response  activities for this particular
hazard.   By focusing on  capacity-building, it acts  to reduce  the risk of
locust  plagues through long-term  management and research activities in the
affected countries.

73.   A comprehensive environmental monitoring programme  has been initiated
by the  United Nations  Environment Programme  (UNEP).   The United  Nations
System-wide Earthwatch Programme is proceeding to coordinate, harmonize  and
integrate the  observation, assessment and  reporting activities related  to
environmental  and socio-economic information throughout  the United Nations
system.   The  objective is  to provide a  consolidated basis  for decision-
making   about  sustainable  development  and  to  warn  countries  and  the
development assistance community  of emergency problems  requiring concerted
and timely international action.

74.  Regional  or intergovernmental authorities provide additional  emphasis
for  specific warning  requirements.   The  Intergovernmental  Authority  on
Drought  and Development,  composed of  countries in  north-eastern  Africa,
manages  a  regional  Early  Warning  and  Food  Information  System.    The
programme  monitors crop  and  livestock production  and  marketing  through
systematic  data  collection and  analysis.    Efforts  are  focused on  the
development  and  application  of  earlywarning  methodologies  and improved
communications suited to  the area, in addition  to local staff training and
the distribution of information.

75.   Other similar programmes  are the Regional and  National Early Warning
System  conducted  by  the  countries  of  the  Southern Africa  Development
Community and  the  AGHRYMET  Programme  of  the  Inter-State  Committee  on
Drought  Control  in  the  Sahel.  Support  is  provided  by  United Nations
specialized  agencies  to  each  of these  programmes,  in  which  satellite
observation and  electronic communications systems  are employed along  with
conventional  national  and  regional  telecommunications  systems  for  the
interpretation  and   dissemination   of   early-warning   information   for
participating countries.

D.  Early warning for technological hazards

76.     In  addition  to  providing   emergency  warnings   of  an  imminent
technological  threat  to the  environment,  as  in  a  chemical or  nuclear
release,  the  systematic   analysis  of  information,  often  involving   a
multidisciplinary  range of specialists, is an important  component of early
warning for technological hazards.  In  contrast with known natural  hazards
with  evident   effects  and  likely  seasons  or  location  of  occurrence,
technological  or  chemical  hazards   having  an  adverse   effect  on  the
environment may exist in  the midst of communities which are unaware of  the
threat which they represent.

77.   There is a special need for early warnings of technological hazards to
be able to alert,  but also to identify,  evaluate and inform  about sources

of potential risks.   As there can  be causal relationships between  natural
and  technological  disasters,  there  is a  growing  concern  that multiple
hazard  risks  are  emerging  more  rapidly   than  the  knowledge  base  to
anticipate appropriate means of prevention or response.

78.  In the area of nuclear and  radiation hazards, the International Atomic
Energy  Agency  (IAEA) oversees  an  international  framework  organized  to
minimize the environmental,  health and economic  consequences of  a nuclear
accident.   The  1986 IAEA  Convention on  Early Notification  of  a Nuclear
Accident  is  the primary  instrument  to  ensure  the  timely and  adequate
notification  to  authorities of  countries  that  might  be  affected by  a
nuclear accident.  It is a matter of some  interest that the Convention, now
ratified by 75 countries with 68  additional signatory countries which  have
not yet ratified it, was negotiated  immediately after the Chernobyl reactor

79.   IAEA requires that accident  notifications refer  to standardized data
to create a common information  structure.  Requirements were  outlined in a
1992 guidance document and IAEA provides a  standard basis of reference with
the International Nuclear  Event Scale, which  allows a common understanding
of nuclear events among the technical community involved, the media and  the
public.  As it is  used to describe  the magnitude of  an event  and also to
inform the  public promptly and consistently  of various aspects  pertaining
to  safety,  it  could serve  as  a  model  for  the  development of  global
nomenclature  and  advisory  standards   for  other  types  of  hazards  and
comprehensive warning systems.

80.    IAEA  collaborates  with  other  international  organizations  in  an
exemplary model  of  coordination which  is  based  on the  reliability  and
technical abilities  of its  partners.   The coordinating  mechanism is  the
Inter-agency  Committee for  the  Response to  Nuclear  Accidents,  which is
chaired by  IAEA.  WMO plays  an important supporting  role, as it  provides
IAEA  with  24-hour  backup support  to prepare  projections  of atmospheric
conditions essential  for accurate warnings. WMO's Global Telecommunications
System is  also utilized  by IAEA for  the dissemination of  warnings.   WHO
participates with a concern for medical  and health-related issues, as  well
as  maintaining special  arrangements to  provide public-health  support  in
response to a request from a national ministry of  health.  FAO is concerned
with  food distribution  and consumption  issues  following an  event, while
UNEP  contributes  environmental  and  natural   resources  information  and
support.    IMO  provides  technical  information  in  relation  to  nuclear
pollution at  sea.  The  Department of  Humanitarian Affairs  of the  United
Nations  Secretariat assists in  the dissemination  of information about the
event internationally.

81.   In a  broader context,  WMO  has an  environmental Emergency  Response
Activities programme to  facilitate the  international exchange of data  and
information  following  the  dispersion  of   nuclear  or  other   forms  of
environmental pollution.    As a  component  of  WMO's World  Weather  Watch
system, the ERA  programme has global objectives  to develop and improve the
capabilities of  member countries  to respond  effectively to  human-induced
environmental  emergencies.  WMO  coordinates its  ERA involvement with that
of  other  international  agencies  and  regional  organizations  to  ensure
programme effectiveness in responding to early warnings.

82.   The UNEP  programme dedicated  to the  Awareness and Preparedness  for
Emergencies at the Local Level (APELL)  has been instrumental in translating
the broad  need for  warnings into  a process  for  developing awareness  of
potential   technological   hazards  and   providing   effective   community
collaboration for  responding to  industrial accidents.  The  involvement of
industry  and  government  officials  in  addressing  warning  and  disaster
preparedness  interests  of  local  communities  has  been  influential   in
translating  the  awareness  of  a  threat  into  practical,   collaborative
accomplishments.   The Cameo hazardous materials directory promoted by APELL
provides a useful example for local  application of decision support systems

83.   The  United  Nations  Economic Commission  for Europe  (ECE)  has been
instrumental in promoting early-warning capacities for industrial  accidents
through  the   Convention  on  the   Transboundary  Effects  of   Industrial
Accidents. The 1992 Convention  aims to strengthen  national capacities  and
international cooperation  in the prevention,  preparedness and response  to
industrial accidents  capable of causing  transboundary effects through  the
promotion  of mutual assistance,  research and  development, the exchange of
information and  the  development of  safety  management  technologies.   An
industrial  accident notification  system has  been devised,  including  the
designation of emergency  notification contacts in the signatory  countries.
Two  industrial  accident coordinating  centres  have  been  established  to
enhance national  capacitybuilding, with special  emphasis on  the needs and
priorities of countries in transition.

84.    A  joint UNEP/Department  of  Humanitarian  Affairs (United  Nations)
Environment Unit  was established  and  located in  the Department's  Relief
Coordination Branch in 1994 to enhance  international capacities to  respond
to environmental  aspects of disasters for  countries whose  ability to cope
has  been  overwhelmed.   The Unit  provides  international notification  of
specific emergencies,  brokerage of required  services between affected  and
donor  countries,  an   information  clearing-house,  impact  and   response
assessments, and facilitates the provision of emergency assistance.

 85.  The Environment Unit is  developing interface procedures with relevant
United Nations agencies and  other organizations to  strengthen regional and
international   procedures  relating   to  notification   and   response  to
environmental  emergencies.     The  joint  involvement  of  UNEP  and   the
Department of Humanitarian  Affairs in this  area was expanded in  1995 with
the  creation   of  an   international  Advisory   Group  on   Environmental
Emergencies, composed of experts and national  focal points from around  the
world.  The Group  meets annually to  review the work of the joint  Unit and
to  act  as  a  forum  for  sharing  international  experience  relating  to
technological aspects of environmental emergencies.

E.  Review of telecommunication activities

86.   The  International  Telecommunication Union  (ITU) is  the  world-wide
organization through  which Governments  and the  private commercial  sector
coordinate  the establishment and operations  of telecommunications networks
and  services.   It  is  responsible for  the  regulation,  standardization,
coordination and development  of international telecommunications and  works
for  the harmonization  of  national policies.    As the  custodian  of  the
international  radio  frequency  spectrum,  ITU  has   a  critical  role  in
fostering collaboration and operational standards among all bodies  involved
in early-warning systems.

87.  The opportunities for improved  early warnings provided by  traditional
telecommunications   services   and   emerging   modern   technologies   are
considerable. The  increasing flexibility  demonstrated by  systems in  both
private and  public domains provide various  types of  interface with early-
warning requirements at the international, country or local level.

88.   ITU has  been instrumental, working  together with  the Department  of
Humanitarian  Affairs and specialized agencies of the United Nations engaged
in emergency operations  to obtain  an international convention on  disaster
communications.    While  most  of   these  efforts  have   concentrated  on
facilitating the use  of telecommunications resources for disaster  response
activities in acute  emergencies, ITU has also  noted the important role  of
telecommunications in  disaster mitigation.   Resolution  No. 7  of the  ITU
First World Telecommunication  Development Conference in 1994 extended  that
awareness specifically to include early warnings.

F.  Review of supporting activities and capacity-building

89.  Virtually all  of the early-warning  systems described and the  related
activities  of United  Nations  organizations contribute  to  the  capacity-
building  of  national  or  sectoral  technical  abilities.    Early-warning
practices can only exist to the extent that  they are based on the developed
skills and  abilities of  people related  through structured  organizational
relationships.   The programmes described  and the respective United Nations
agencies associated with them  have each contributed  training, the transfer
of  technology,  research  abilities  or  technical  expertise  to  national
counterpart  and technical  organizations.   In  addition, there  are  other
organizations  or individual  programme  activities in  the  United  Nations
system  which play  additional supporting  roles  for  the early  warning of
natural and similar disasters.
  90.  WHO has a long-established  commitment to preventive strategies based
on  the  early  detection of  potential  hazards  and  community  awareness,
incorporated in  the ongoing public-health  programmes of member  countries.
The organization  has initiated an  Epidemiological Information System  that
regularly   issues   bulletins   and    alerts   relating   to   significant
epidemiological problems.  WHO's International Programme on Chemical  Safety
is  conducted in close  association with  UNEP's APELL  programme to provide
technical advice  to affected communities  and also maintains  comprehensive
toxicological information and databases essential for early warning  through
a global network of collaborating centres.

91.    The  translation  of  early-warning information  on  slowly  evolving
disasters such  as drought into effective  response depends  on the accurate
assessment of  the relative  and changing  vulnerability  of the  population
within  the  affected area.    For  this  purpose,  computer programmes  and
equipment   are  becoming   more  accessible   to  quantify  and   map  this
vulnerability.    WFP  has  taken advantage  of  advances  in geo-referenced
database  management and  in 1994  established  a Vulnerability  and Mapping
Unit within its overall organizational Disaster Mitigation  Strategy.  WFP's
disaster-mitigation activities are  carried out in close collaboration  with
programmes  of  other  cooperating partners,  non-governmental organizations
(NGOs)  and Governments.   In this  respect, WFP's activities  have placed a
special emphasis on building sustainable vulnerabilitymapping systems  which
encourage full government ownership.  This  has resulted in the  development
by  several  African countries  of  national  vulnerability  assessment  and
mapping  committees or  similar analysis  systems integrated  into  national
planning and development efforts.

92.   UNEP's  Global  Resources Information  Database  (UNEP/GRID),  located
within UNEP's Environment Assessment Division, provides geo-referenced  data
to support environmental assessment  within UNEP, among other United Nations
agencies, and  for  national  partners  and  clients.    UNEP/GRID's  Global
Information  System  on  Natural  Hazards  is  a  specific  activity   being
implemented  in conjunction with  the Department of Humanitarian Affairs and
the secretariat of  the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.
This interpretive and display  technology based on global data sets and  GIS
technology  provides reference  documentation  to specialists  and  decision
makers involved in hazard and risk assessment.

93.   Other programmes within the  United Nations  system contribute, either
directly  or  indirectly, to  early-warning  capacity  development.    These
activities  include,  by  way  of  example,  GIS  training  and   networking
conducted  by  the  United  Nations  Institute  for  Training  and  Research
(UNITAR) in  the  drought-prone areas  of  Africa.   Similarly,  the  United
Nations Programme on Space Applications is  active in promoting an increased
understanding  and use  of space  technology  for  the improvement  of early
warning for natural disasters, particularly in developing countries.

94.  Under its  mandate to coordinate international humanitarian assistance,
the Department of Humanitarian Affairs of  the United Nations Secretariat is
an  important user  and  disseminator  of information  regarding  the  early
identification  and warning  of  possible disasters  for  the  international
response community.   The Relief Coordination Branch maintains an Operations
Centre which  screens incoming information  from technical institutions  and

national services  for the early indication  of potential  emergencies.  The
branch   reports  and   facilitates   the  exchange   of   information   for
international   response,    including   the   implementation   of   standby
arrangements for  immediate technical  or material  assistance.   Similarly,
the   Department's   Complex   Emergencies   Division   has   the   mandated
responsibility of facilitating the exchange of information and  coordinating
the international response pertaining to drought conditions.

95.   The development of  the ReliefWeb global information  system under the
Department's  auspices is a  major initiative  to identify  and then provide
access to consolidated  information pertinent to  early warning.  HazardNet,
the  Emergency  Preparedness   Information  Exchange   (EPIX)  and   similar
electronic   information  networks   under   development   represent  future
possibilities of  specialized information to  support coordinated access  to
background information.

96.    The Disaster  Mitigation  Branch,  working  in  association with  the
secretariat of the  International Decade in the Disaster Reduction  Division
of  the  Department  of  Humanitarian Affairs,  is  particularly  suited  to
facilitate the  broader international collaboration  and programme attention
necessary to strengthen regional and  national capacities related  to early-
warning  effectiveness.     The  Disaster  Management   Training  Programme,
supported jointly by UNDP and the  Department of Humanitarian Affairs,  also
has  demonstrated  a   capacity  to  initiate  official  and   institutional
strategies designed to  improve hazard awareness, preparedness and  response
capabilities in more than 50 countries.


97.   A review of early-warning programmes within the  United Nations system
shows that there are  gaps and insufficiencies in covering the hazards  that
have been cited in the present report.   Coordinated efforts are required to
harmonize  existing  programmes at  international  and  regional  levels  to
support  the development and  strengthening of  national capabilities.   The
challenge  before the  United Nations,  and  the  present opportunity  to be
decisively  exploited, is to  provide the  leadership and  the commitment to
proceed  with measures which  can create  an agreed  international basis for
the coordination  and collective benefit  of improved, comprehensive  early-
warning systems.

A.  Role of the United Nations

98.  The General Assembly,  in its resolution 46/182 of 19 December 1991, on
strengthening of  the coordination of  humanitarian emergency assistance  of
the  United Nations,  provides an  explicit  basis  for the  Organization to
intensify   its  efforts   for   the  systematic   pooling,   analysis   and
dissemination  of early-warning  information  on natural  and  technological
hazards.    The  Assembly specifies  that  the  capacity  of  disaster-prone
countries to  receive, use and  disseminate earlywarning information  should
be strengthened  and  urges  the  international community  to  assist  those
countries  in the  establishment or  enhancement of  national  early-warning
systems.   To do this, the United  Nations must draw upon the  full range of
its  existing   early-warning  knowledge,   organizational  experience   and
resources in a methodical way.

 99.   Policies and procedures  are needed to  link these  requirements with
the abilities  of Governments,  specialized institutions,  intergovernmental
and non-governmental  organizations through a collective approach to forge a
coherent and global framework for early warning.

100.    The aim  is  functional  coherence  among  the different  specialist
abilities which contribute to  early warning.  Equally,  there is a need for
systematic  procedures  to  be  agreed  for  related communications  at  all
levels.  The experiences of both WMO and  IAEA demonstrate that a  sustained

and broadly based effort, drawing on  the distributed technical abilities of
various  institutions  and  national  collaborators,  is  critical  for  the
successful coordination of international warning systems.

101.   To  pursue  this process  there is,  first  of all,  the  need  for a
collective United Nations approach to define  a doctrine which reflects  the
true   cross-sectoral,  multidisciplinary,   and   inter-agency   nature  of
comprehensive   global  early-warning   activities.     The  experience  and
requirements  of countries  affected by  natural  and similar  hazards,  and
particularly  those of  developing countries, need to  guide the development
or integration of  services provided by technical agencies and international

102.   This  process  can  be  furthered  by  designating  an  authority  or
mechanism to  provide comprehensive  oversight to early warning  for natural
and  similar disasters within  the United Nations system.   Above all, there
is  a  need to  encourage  more  interaction  between  headquarters for  the
agreement  of  common early-warning  objectives  and  the  consideration  of
synergies among their respective programmes.  The  same process needs to  be
encouraged  between bilateral  or  multilateral aid  organizations  so  that
technical-assistance   planning   and   implementation  can   contribute  to
collaboration between agencies and with national counterpart organizations.

103.   Possible mechanisms are already  in place.   The International Decade
for Natural  Disaster  Reduction  provides  the basis  of  an  international
framework  for concerted collaboration,  guided by  an explicit  strategy in
the  Yokohama Strategy and  Plan of Action.   The Department of Humanitarian
Affairs is able to  guide and relate national policy initiatives and to link
warnings with  coordinated response  capacities.   Scientific and  technical
specialists are  accessible through  UNESCO, the  United Nations  Children's
Fund  (UNICEF),   FAO,  WHO,   WMO,  UNEP,   IAEA  and   ITU,  among   other
organizations.     Support  for  national  developmental  planning  efforts,
management capacity-building and operational abilities  is available through
UNDP, the  Department of  Humanitarian Affairs,  UNITAR, the  United Nations
Department  for Development  Support  and Management  Services  and  others.
Practical  steps are needed to consolidate these capacities  on the basis of
common  agreement  to focus  the resources  of individual  organizations for
collective purposes,  while retaining the  benefit of specialist  experience
in the implementation of responsibilities.

104.   At  the country  level, the  resident  coordinator system  provides a
coordinating mechanism  to  encourage a  policy emphasis  for early  warning
when  this is  in  the  national interest.    In this  respect, the  Country
Strategy  Note (CSN) is  a useful  instrument for  disaster-prone developing
countries to  identify early-warning  requirements in  a national  disaster-
reduction strategy.  Coordinated by UNDP,  but representing the interests of
government and specialized agencies  alike, the CSN can serve as a frame  of
reference  for  the joint  preparation  and  coordinated proposal  of early-
warning requirements  that are fully  integrated into  a country's  national
development priorities.

105.    The United  Nations  Disaster  Management  Team  (UNDMT) concept  is
another instrument  that can  be utilized  within countries  to improve  the
coordination  among   the  organizations  of   the  United  Nations   system
represented  within   a  country,   in  association   with  key   government
counterpart  departments.   Motivated by  the Disaster  Management  Training
Programme,  UNDMT  provides a  structure  for  the coordinated  planning and
local  assignment of  functional  responsibilities related  to  preparedness
measures and ongoing capacity-building.  It is also a mechanism which  could
be used  after a  disaster to  work with  national authorities  to focus  on
early-warning   aspects  to   define   lessons  learned   and   to   prepare
corresponding technical assistance proposals.

106.   UNDP  has a  major role  to play  at  the  country level  through its
multisectoral advisory and  funding role  for development activities.   UNDP
can provide a sustained development programme environment for  early-warning

policy  motivation  and  can  support capacity-building  in  areas  such  as
improved  information  management,  training  activities  and   preparedness
operations  planning.   The  UNDP  resident  representative is  normally the
United Nations resident coordinator.  As  such, he/she leads the coordinated
approach of the United Nations  system at the field level in all aspects  of
disaster management,  including early warning.  These functions are executed
through the Disaster Management Team (UNDMT),  in close cooperation with the
Department of Humanitarian Affairs, and under  the guidance of the Emergency
Relief Coordinator/Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

B.  International agents for development

107.    International  coordination  in  early  warning  can  be  initiated,
facilitated and supported by the United Nations system, but it requires  the
active support  and  involvement  of  other elements  of  the  international
development community.

108.    Additional  opportunities  need  to   be  found  to  encourage   the
contributions  of the  scientific and  technical community  to the decision-
making  process  of   technical  and  development  assistance.     Technical
institutions  and  other  forms  of  professional  interest  groups  have  a
valuable role to play, particularly at  the regional level, in  articulating
commonly held  concerns or  requirements of  countries that  are exposed  to
similar  types  of  hazards   or  share  common   geographical  or  cultural

109.  Decisions  taken by individual donors in support of specific preferred
programme sectors or  single-country emphasis can  result in a fragmentation
of  early-warning  interests and  initiatives.    Urgent  bilateral  actions
related  to developing emergencies  or inspired  by a  recent singular event
can introduce  inappropriate or unsustainable  technologies.  These  actions
can also  contribute to a  misrepresentation of an agency's  ability or role
within a larger national context of responsibilities.

 110.  Countries which depend on the use  of international or regional early
warnings have  an obligation themselves to  contribute the  benefit of their
experiences candidly  to the international community.   Their  ability to do
so  depends partially  on the  rigorous  application  of their  own critical
assessments  and   evaluations  about   their  capabilities,   as  well   as
requirements for improvements.  Ex post  facto assessments of early  warning
should be conducted following any emergency  event and the observations used
to  revise  existing   procedures  or  operational  relationships.     These
assessments,  when  made   jointly  with  the  participation  of   technical
agencies,  international  organizations  or  donor  representatives,  should
contribute to a collective process of  evaluation leading to improvements in
early warning.

111.   The cumulative  value of  these efforts  for improving  international
coordination of early warning can be  realized through concerted efforts  to
modify existing  policy.   Member countries articulating common  concerns in
governing  councils of  United  Nations  agencies or  regional economic  and
development associations can  develop a consensus  in guiding  joint efforts
for early-warning commitments.

112.    Other forms  of  regional  or  political  organization also  provide
opportunities to  enhance  coordination.   One  example  is the  Council  of
Europe's Open  Partial Agreement on  the Prevention  of, Protection  against
and Organization  of Relief  in Major Natural  and Technological  Disasters.
This  Agreement, signed  in 1987  and  currently  being updated,  groups the
interests   of  20  States,   4  international   organizations  and  1  non-
governmental organization in activities of common  interest.  These  include
compulsory contributions  by member  States for a  European Warning  System,
composed  of a network  of 12  specialized European  technical centres which
implement training, information and research programmes that enhance  early-
warning capacities in the countries concerned.

113.    Collaborative  agreements,  resolutions  or  other  forms  of  joint
acceptance  of  common interests,  principles  of  operation,  standards  or
shared  resources  are  basic  to   encouraging  a  broader  involvement  of
organizations in coordinating  early-warning practices.  The most  effective
early-warning systems  pertaining to specific types  of hazards are  founded
upon some type of basic agreement among participants.


114.  A review of early-warning  activities of United Nations  organizations
reveals gaps and requirements for  future improvements in  effectiveness and
coordination of  early warning.   Priority  issues relate  to improving  the
coordination  of  early  warning  within  the  United  Nations  system   and
supporting  activities   for   national   capacity-building  in   a   larger
developmental framework, as summarized below.

115.   As both of  the above subjects  are crucial for  the mobilization  of
concerted  efforts  within the  International Framework  of  Action for  the
International Decade for  Natural Disaster Reduction  and the achievement of
strategic Decade  targets, a technical  information paper  has been prepared
by the  Decade secretariat to provide  more elaboration.  The paper provides
direction  for  a process  in  which  coordinated  early-warning  activities
during the next four  years can contribute to  the concluding event  for the
Decade.   In this  way, the  process can  contribute to  the possibility  of
achieving an international  consensus leading to established procedures  for
comprehensive and coordinated early warning as  a basis for future  disaster
reduction in the twenty-first century.

A.  Perceptions of early-warning problems

116.  There is a lack of understanding  about the social and  organizational
nature of  early warnings.   The process can  be made more effective  by the
sustained application of tools and techniques  appropriate for the  required
functions.   The  primary  criterion  for  improvement  has  to  be  one  of
increased  comprehension  by  the  intended receivers  of  information.    A
critical   priority  for   improved  early   warning  relates   to   working
relationships, leading to planned actions in  an increasing number of  local

117.   The access to  and exchange of  technical experience  and abilities -
commonly  referred  to  as   the  transfer  of   technology  -are  important
contributions  to improving  early-warning  systems.   Their  usefulness  is
dependent upon the extent  that the operators and  users of the  systems can
sustain the technical abilities  and costs of operation.  It is necessary to
scale  technology  to  the  specific  levels  of  individual   early-warning
functions, recognizing the  need to  relate different  technologies to  each
other, if their potential is to be fully achieved.

118.   Warning  systems need  to  be  established and  supported  throughout
normal times.  Early warnings are  associated with emergency conditions, but
their usefulness is  determined by the  extent to which  they are  installed
and active beforehand.   Effective warning systems need to be involved  with
ongoing   activities  to  maintain  procedures  and  to  develop  a  routine
competence  with effective  inter-organizational relationships.   They  need
continuous  material  and  political  support.     Means  are  necessary  to
incorporate early-warning abilities  into other activities which  contribute
to national development efforts.

119.    Organizations  associated  with  early  warning  need  to  encourage
collaborators  to focus on the  fundamental objective of  their efforts:  to
enable timely, coherent and effective response  by officials and the  public
to  a warning.  There is often the need for political will to respond to the
evidence of early warning,  especially the very early signs, when there  may
be more  immediate priorities facing a  Government.  For this reason, early-

warning functions  need to  be linked  to risk  assessment and  preparedness
programmes within a  coherent disaster-management strategy.  To further this
relationship, there is a need for continued research  and development of the
technical  aspects  of early-warning  systems  for explicit  user-determined
needs and applications.

B.  Translating hazard identification into effective response

120.   Early-warning  activities span  a range of  professional disciplines,
and each of them  can have a very different perception about early  warning.
The interdisciplinary and multisectoral implications of early warnings  have
been thus far inadequately  addressed.  There is  a critical need to develop
a broader common understanding among all the people  involved in the warning
process.   This  includes bridging  gaps between  scientists,  communication
technicians,  media  professionals, political  decision  makers,  and  other
departmental or community officials  responsible for implementing  disaster-
management functions.

121.   There is  an essential  need to  translate technical  matters into  a
common understanding for the public.  There is  equally the need to  improve
the  channels by  which technical  and scientific  knowledge  about disaster
reduction can influence the political decision-making process.  Whether  the
critical information  conveyed by  a warning is technical  or administrative
in nature, there is  a need for increased dialogue between the producers and
intended users of the  information, in a language understandable by all,  if
it is to have any impact.

122.   Efforts made  towards formulating  warnings need  to be distinguished
from those  made towards their utilization.   The  collection and monitoring
of  hazard data differs from its subsequent  interpretation, forecasting and
presentation.  The  former  activities  may  be  enhanced  by  sophisticated
techniques.    The  other  functions  may  benefit  from  a  more simplified
approach to implementation.   The tools and  technologies suited to each  of
the tasks must be scaled to  meet the needs and the  abilities of the people

123.   Technological  innovations for early  warning need to  be assessed to
ensure  that they  provide added  value,  rather  than additional  costs, to
early warning.  Advanced technologies can  have significant recurrent  costs
attributable to maintenance and their rapid evolution.  There is a need  for
continuous  training,  and  there are  costs  associated  with ensuring  the
continued engagement of experienced  technical staff.  Both requirements are
critical for the sustainability of a warning system.

C.  International abilities and national experience

124.  Effective warning systems require  freely available data and  reliable
access  for all  collaborators.   Exemplary warning  systems encourage  data
exchange  and  seek  to  facilitate  its utility  by  establishing  commonly
accepted standards,  procedures, assessment  criteria,  etc.   International
agreement on operational  standards and nomenclature  for early  warning can
contribute  to improved understanding  and common  benefit at  all levels of

125.  There is a need to draw more attention to the differing  international
and  national   perspectives  regarding   what  warning   systems  can   do,
technically,  and   what  they  need  to   do,  practically.     The  better
understanding  of purpose,  and a  clear  determination  of users  and their
needs, can  contribute  to the  design  of  more effective  and  sustainable
warning systems.    Advanced  technology  can  create  the  opportunity  for
countries  to identify and  tailor systems to  their own  requirements or to
devise related low-cost applications which can provide added value.

126.   Export of  these modified  technologies can  similarly benefit  other

developing    countries.        Through    increased    opportunities    for
multidisciplinary dialogue among  national partners and technical  agencies,
there  is additional  scope  for  international  best practices  to  address
countries'  primary needs.  There  is an  equal  opportunity  for individual
countries  to contribute  their  experience  to the  body  of  international
understanding for improved early-warning capacities.

127.   Early-warning systems require  continuous human resources development
and the  documentation of experience.   In addition  to technical education,
systems  management training is essential for the improved effectiveness and
better coordination of  early-warning processes.   Education is also  needed
to  develop  a  broader  understanding  of  the  relationship  between early
warning and other aspects  of disaster management.   Efforts must be made to
encourage  the  sharing  of knowledge  among  developing  countries  and  to
document  the  experience of  disaster-affected  countries.    More  applied
research regarding the effectiveness  of early-warning measures  needs to be
conducted in primary disaster-affected developing countries by nationals  of
the country concerned.

D.  Disseminating the message; communicating early warnings

128.  International communication standards, best practices and  coordinated
efforts can  contribute significant uniformity  for common benefits to early
warning.  As in  the case of communications  related to emergency  response,
those  used  in  the  context  of  early  warning  can  benefit  from  prior
international agreement  on privileged  access, revised tariffs,  designated
responsibilities and coordinated functions.

129.   The important  function of communicating  at the  different levels of
earlywarning  activity  needs  to be  scaled  appropriately  to  address the
resources and skills  available, and the requirements to  be met.  Both  the
needs  and  the  limitations  of  users  have  to  be  translated  into  the
application of the  most suitable combination of traditional  communications
systems and modern technologies.

130.    The different  user  tariffs  applicable to  various  communications
systems and  the attributes  of official,  publicly owned  and operated,  as
well as private  commercial systems need to  be evaluated more thoroughly in
response  to  the  particular  needs  of  specific  warning  systems.    The
economics  and  feasibility  of  technical  sustainability  in  the  rapidly
developing sector  of communications  needs to be matched  against practical
requirements evident in the  different functions of  information exchange in
early-warning programmes.

131.  There is  a need to  evaluate the opportunities provided by  upgrading
or including  existing  forms of  familiar  means  of communication  in  the
warning process as  an extension  of preparedness  measures associated  with
early warning.  Media relations, public  radio and television  broadcasting,
telephone  systems, amateur  radio  operators, which  are  often  identified
primarily with  emergency response activities, can be effective in expanding
the coverage of early warning.

 E.  Coordination of international and national capabilities

132.   Improved  global  early-warning  coordination  is  dependent  on  two
strategies.  Early-warning  practices  and  systems  need  to  become   more
effectively  linked to  the  organizations and  activities  responsible  for
responding to  the  warning  at the  national and  local  levels.   Improved
early-warning coordination will be determined by  a sustained commitment  to
capacity-building  and   the  explicit   involvement  of   the  subject   in
development endeavour.   A short-term, primarily relief-based perception  of
early warning could  lead to fragmented efforts  and emphasis on one  sector
or aspect at the expense of another.

133.  The United  Nations system offers  the institutional base for  guiding
international efforts to formulate an early-warning  doctrine.  Such a frame
of  reference  and  body  of   thought,  with  clearly  defined  objectives,
operating principles, and priority actions, is  needed if the development of
common practices,  standards and collective efforts  of parties involved  is
to be encouraged.

134.     Equally,  an   operational  agreement   would  be   required  among
Governments,  agencies, programme  sectors  and the  development  assistance
community for such a  commitment to be  sustained.  The process of  building
improved coordination needs to  be based firmly on a systematic basis of  ex
post  facto  assessments   of  earlywarning  effectiveness  of  all   future
disasters, grounded in affected countries' experiences and  based on lessons
which have been learned by them.

135.   Successful mobilization of resources  at the  international level and
the resulting  funding opportunities  for programme  activities relating  to
early  warning would  also  create  an incentive  for  better  early-warning
coordination.  Commitments need to  be sustained and consolidated to advance
the  development  of  capacities  over  time.    Greater  efficiency  can be
achieved by an understanding  of the purpose of early warning, its  mutually
supporting functions and the resources required for its accomplishment.


136.     The  following   conclusions  and  proposals   are  submitted   for
consideration   with   respect   to   the   improvement   of   early-warning
capabilities,  better  international coordination  in  their  use  and  more
effective and beneficial exchange of knowledge and technology:

  (a)    Within the  existing  International  Framework  of  Action for  the
International Decade  for Natural Disaster Reduction, there is a need for an
informal  mechanism   to  develop  international  doctrine  and  operational
standards  for   improved  and  better   coordinated  global   early-warning
analysis, forecasting and  dissemination.  Such a mechanism should  comprise
representation from Governments, United Nations agencies and  organizations,
scientific  and technical  communities  and  other professional  disciplines
engaged  in  the  early-warning  process.    The  mechanism,  an  open-ended
interdisciplinary   and  inter-agency  working  process,   would  provide  a
collective  operating   framework  to  direct   a  credible  and   effective
application of  early warning within disaster  management at  all levels, in
particular in support of local communities at risk from natural and  similar

  (b)  National Governments of all  countries are encouraged to  undertake a
systematic  assessment  of  the  extent  to  which  current   international,
regional  and  national   warning  systems  adequately  address  their   own
requirements  to provide  ready access  to  warnings  for all  citizens, and
particularly  those living  in local  communities most  exposed to  hazards.
The  assessment   should  be  conducted  with   the  full   support  of  the
organizations of the United  Nations system, technical  institutions and the
international  development community.    The results  of  these  assessments
should contribute field-based experience to the international working  group
on early warning;

  (c)  Countries are encouraged to  designate a national body or responsible
agency as the focus for  the coordination of early warnings based on an all-
hazards  approach.   An acknowledged  national authority  can contribute  to
ensuring linkages  with international efforts  to streamline and  coordinate
priority activities  and capacity-building.  There  is a  need to strengthen
links  between  local  communities  and  centralized  systems  at  national,
regional and  international levels to capitalize  better on local  variables
and perceptions.  At the same time a coherent national  approach to disaster
awareness, preparedness, management, response and reduction can beadvanced;

  (d)   It is  proposed that  the mechanism referred to  in subparagraph (a)
above  submit its  recommendations to  the  General  Assembly at  its fifty-
second  session,  outlining  a  comprehensive  and  streamlined  operational
framework  for  improved  and better  coordinated  early-warning  capacities
world  wide as  well as  propose  international principles  and  operational
modalities   for   United   Nations  organizations,   national  Governments,
technical institutions and  all professional interests concerned with  early

  (e)   The implementation  of these proposals  for the  improvement of  the
early-warning  capacities  of  the  United  Nations  system with  regard  to
natural disasters  and  similar disasters  with  an  adverse impact  on  the
environment should  be duly  considered in  the preparatory  process of  the
closing event  for the International Decade  for Natural Disaster  Reduction
foreseen  for 1999.   This  will provide  an  opportunity  to take  stock of
concerted  international efforts  to  improve  early warning  and to  ensure
their  full  integration in  the  strategy  for  natural disaster  reduction
beyond the year 2000.


  1/   Tampere Declaration,  adopted by  the Tampere  Conference on Disaster
Communications, Tampere, Finland, May 1991, paras. 13-14.

  2/  See the  report of the World Conference on Natural Disaster  Reduction
(Yokohama, 23-27 May 1994) (A/CONF.172/9), chap. V.

  3/  Ibid., chap. I, resolution 1, annex I.

  4/  Ibid., annex II.
    5/  Ibid., chaps. IV and V.

  6/    Report  of  the  United   Nations  Conference  on  Environment   and
Development,  Rio de Janeiro,  3-14 June  1992 (A/CONF.151/26/Rev.1  (Vol. I
and  Vol. I/Corr.1, Vol. II, Vol. III and  Vol. III/Corr.1)) (United Nations
publication,  Sales  No. E.93.I.8  and  corrigenda),  vol. I:    Resolutions
Adopted by the Conference, resolution 1, annex II.



This document has been posted online by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Reproduction and dissemination of the document - in electronic and/or printed format - is encouraged, provided acknowledgement is made of the role of the United Nations in making it available.

Date last posted: 18 December 1999 16:30:10
Comments and suggestions: esa@un.org