New Delhi [India], September 23 (ANI): As part of a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, Quad foreign ministers on Thursday signed guidelines on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) in the region which will augment the synergy to undertake humanitarian operations, especially in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami.

The Foreign Ministers of Australia, India and Japan and United States met in New York on Thursday on the sidelines of UN General Assembly and signed into operation the Guidelines for the 'Quad Partnership on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) in the Indo-Pacific'.

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This partnership was announced by Quad Leaders in Tokyo on 24 May 2022, as part of a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and resilient.

The signing of these Guidelines marks a significant moment in Quad cooperation, which traces its origin from the 2004 ad hoc Tsunami Core Group which catalyzed international response efforts in the aftermath of the tsunami that devastated many countries in the region, said a Quad joint statement.

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The Partnership has been designed to respond to the vulnerabilities of the Indo-Pacific region and will serve as a dedicated framework for Quad partners to coordinate their disaster response operations in the region. The mechanism will augment their capacity and capability, interoperability and operational synergy to undertake HADR operations.

Response operations will be guided by the core principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality as outlined in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/182 on the provisions of humanitarian assistance.

A request for international assistance is needed before Quad partners may act in coordination under the Partnership. Quad partners may provide joint or coordinated individual assistance in crisis preparation or alert, crisis-response or post crisis review phases of disaster response. Any humanitarian action will be carried out with respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of the affected state.

Under the partnership, Quad partners will promote inclusion by advancing gender equality and women's and girl's empowerment, ensuring persons with disabilities are agents and beneficiaries of humanitarian action, and by ensuring indigenous people, minority groups and persons in vulnerable situations are not left behind. The guidelines call for zero tolerance for inaction on tackling Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (SEAH).

Quad partners will meet twice a year to share lessons and operational updates and will conduct at least one scenario-based table-top exercise to improve preparedness, coordination and interoperability.

The Partnership will coordinate HADR operations with the UN and other international agencies and donors, regional and local governments, public and private organisations, and non-government organizations where appropriate and in the best interest of humanity.

The guidelines have been signed by Quad Foreign Ministers and have come into effect on September 23, 2022. (ANI)

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