International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ launches Universal Access Policy
20 September 2012 - Building on a decade of success in making satellite data available to users for disaster response, the International Charter Space and Major Disasters is now opening its doors even wider. To do this, the Charter has adopted the principle of Universal Access: any national disaster management authority will be able to submit requests to the Charter for emergency disaster response. Proper procedures will have to be followed, but the affected country will not have to be a Charter member.
The Charter has arrangements with UNOSAT and with the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to provide support to UN agencies. This agreement allows UN relief agencies to submit a request in case of a humanitarian emergency caused by a major natural or technological disaster, in any part of the world.
Since 2003, the Humanitarian Rapid Mapping Service of UNITAR/UNOSAT has been using data provided by the International Charter to support humanitarian operations across the world. UNOSAT also offers direct support to the Charter by acting as Project Manager during activations of the Charter done in response to UN humanitarian agencies' needs.
There are still many national users in countries without direct access to the Charter. Universal Access will benefit national disaster management authorities in countries beyond those of the Charter members, previously unable to make direct requests to the Charter during emergency situations.
National disaster management authorities interested in participating in the Charter will be required to carry out an application and registration process. This process will validate the ability of national authorities to access and use Charter assets for disaster response, in accordance with Charter operational procedures.