This self-assessment guide, drafted by the OSCE Secretariat Transnational Threats Department's Borders Unit, is aimed for national agencies of, in the first place, OSCE Participating States and Partners for Co-operation who would deal with cross-border movements following a crisis.
Preparedness for cross-border implications is vital to facilitate a speedy and effective response to humanitarian emergencies and to deal with cross-border movements resulting from crises. Borders are vulnerable in times of crises as they are increasingly under pressure by a number of cross-border movements. Different types of crises - natural disasters, environmental emergencies, man-made crises, cross-border health emergencies or conflict situations- may all result in a sudden influx of relief goods and personnel, while at the same time people may decide or have to flee across the border, or emergencies may threaten to spill over to neighbouring countries. Officials at the border are the first to be confronted with these dynamics and border security can become affected.
The challenges for border-related agencies during crises are numerous. Often, procedures and legislation for cross-border aspects are drafted for non-emergency situations which results in uncertainty and ad-hoc procedures. Complicated bureaucratic procedures and a lack of co-ordination among national agencies may slow down the delivery of assistance to those in need. The capacity of border officials themselves may be affected by the crisis, whereas the situation demands unusual and speedy processing of people, goods and equipment. Furthermore, priorities for border security change which alters the co-ordination structures and working culture of border-related agencies.
As crises rarely respect international borders, cross-border co-operation is of utmost importance to adequately prepare, and effectively and efficiently respond. Some events may be of such magnitude, that a country is unable to deal with the consequences independently. Especially when it comes to health or environmental emergencies, only well-developed cross-border co-operation may be capable of halting further proliferation. Cross-border co-operation is needed to promote free and secure movement of persons, goods and services across borders as well as dignified treatment of all individuals wanting to cross borders.
The need for better preparedness at the country level - national, regional and local - and at the international level has been acknowledged by a number of recent initiatives and projects. For example, the on-going Transformative Agenda, reviewing the current approach to humanitarian response, includes continuous support to build capacities for preparedness. As such, humanitarian organisations undertake working with national governments and civil society on preparedness programmes in order to strengthen resilience and enhance response capacities.
This document contributes to overall response preparedness by promoting existing tools and pointing national authorities to international and regional assistance frameworks. The tool compiles expertise from various organizations working on different aspects of crisis response, and thus offers participating States and Partners for Co-operation a comprehensive overview of relevant aspects when preparing for cross-border implications of crises. Using this tool will allow participating States and Partners for Co-operation to identify potential gaps or ambiguities that could benefit from contingency planning on a national, regional and international level, and from better compliance with existing international frameworks.
The structure of the tool follows different cross-border movements and lists, for each, a number of issues and aspects that should be considered in order to prepare appropriately. The document is designed to be used in advance of emergency situations.