The methodology of INSARAG is described at its Guidelines. The INSARAG Guidelines address international USAR response in a cycle that includes the following phases: Preparedness, Mobilization, Operations, Demobilization and Post-Mission. For each of these phases the INSARAG methodology as defined by the INSARAG Guidelines and the INSARAG Technical Guidance Notes describe what is expected of international USAR teams as they respond to an earthquake affected country. It also describes how coordination between USAR teams should take place and what is expected of the affected country.

INSARAG Secretariat
Emergency Response Section – Response Support Branch
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Palais des Nations – CH 112 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Duty officer mobile (emergencies only): +41 22 917 16 00

Secretary of INSARAG
Mr. Sebastian Rhodes Stampa
Office : +41 22 917 59 65
Mobile : +41 79 691 11 80

Mr. Winston Chang (INSARAG Secretariat Worldwide)
Office: +41 22 917 11 73
Mobile: +41 79 469 85 88

Ms. Haruka Ezaki (INSARAG Secretariat Asia-Pacific)
Office : +66 2 288 24 23
Mobile : +66 62 592 03 09

Ms. Cecile Thibaud (support Asia-Pacific)
Office : +41 22 917 1394
Mobile : +41 76 691 14 24

Ms. Ana Maria Rebaza (INSARAG Secretariat Americas)
Mobile: +51-9 89581862

Mr. Martin Perez (support Americas)
Office: + 41 22 917 32 18
Mobile: +41 79 469 85 90

Mr. Lucien Jaggi (INSARAG Secretariat Middle East and North Africa)
Mobile : +41 76 691 02 26

Ms. Marie Mure (support Europe- Central Asia – INSARAG Global)
Office : +41 22 917 3484
Mobile : +41 79 477 08 80

Ms. Stefania Trassari (INSARAG Secretariat Europe and CIS)
Mobile : +41 76 691 02 30

Mr. Clement Kalonga (INSARAG Secretariat Africa )
Office : +254 20 762 2166
Mobile : +254 780 460 582

Ms. Johanna Medina Contreras (support Africa)
Office : +41 22 917 1693
Mobile : +41 79 477 08 84

The INSARAG has managed to achieve many goals over the years. In all cases, these achievements have helped either directly or indirectly the goal of saving more lives following incidents of structural collapse. These achievements include but are not limited to:

• The successful creation of a UN General Assembly (GA) Resolution 57/150 of 2002 on “Strengthening the Effectiveness and Coordination of International USAR Assistance”. This resolution is widely considered to have underpinned much of the progress achieved by the group in recent history.

• The development of INSARAG Guidelines and methodology for USAR operations to ensure standardised training and structures of international USAR teams.

• The development of INSARAG External Classification (IEC) system and IEC Guidelines.

• The development of internationally accepted markings for use on buildings in USAR operations to improve communication of USAR teams on site.

• The development of the methodology for the establishment of a Reception/Departure Centre at the entry points into the affected country to better coordinate team assignment and logistics support on-site.

• The development of a concept for rapid disaster assessment and coordination (the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) concept).

• The development of the concept of On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) in sudden-onset disasters in general, not only for earthquakes.

• The establishment of a ‘Virtual OSOCC’ on the Internet for real-time information exchange during ongoing emergencies among involved disaster managers.

Membership with INSARAG is open to all countries and /or organisations involved in Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) activities. Countries that are interested in joining the INSARAG network are requested to identify an INSARAG national focal point that acts as interface with the INSARAG Regional Group and the INSARAG Secretariat. Organizations wishing to apply for INSARAG membership can do so by addressing an official request to the INSARAG Secretariat through their respective INSARAG National Focal Points with the USAR team profile form. Organisations from countries that already have a national INSARAG focal point are encouraged to express interest through this focal point. In cases where a national focal point is not designated, organisations may make contact with the INSARAG Secretariat directly. 

INSARAG members are part of a worldwide knowledge-sharing network on collapsed structure rescue and operational field coordination. They are invited to annual meetings of the relevant INSARAG Regional Group, USAR Team Leaders and to participate in INSARAG working groups.  Furthermore, members have access to INSARAG’s information and knowledge-sharing tools, through the “Virtual OSOCC” (Virtual On-Site Operations Coordination Centre) and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) on the internet, which provide alert notification in the event of a sudden-onset disaster and real-time information updates and coordination during ongoing disasters. Responsibilities attached to the INSARAG membership can be found in the INSARAG Guidelines.

While USAR teams deploying internationally are strongly recommended to undergo the INSARAG External Classification (IEC), this is not a requirement for membership to the INSARAG as IEC is a voluntary process (Please refer to the IEC page for further information). Countries with no USAR capacity who expect to receive USAR assistance if required or who build up local USAR capacity are as welcome to become INSARAG members.

The INSARAG is composed of a series of fora and geographical regions that all report upward with and through the overarching global elements of the Steering Group. This structure ensures all aspects of the INSARAG’s aim can be achieved at a regional level while still ensuring they are in line with best practise as defined and agreed by the global group.


INSARAG Steering Group

The INSARAG is directed by a Steering Group. This group meets annually and consists of INSARAG Chairman, INSARAG Regional Group’s Chairs and Vice-Chairs, the national focal points of INSARAG External Classification (IEC) classified countries, Chairs of any relevant INSARAG ad-hoc Working Groups and the INSARAG Secretariat. The INSARAG Steering Group governs the process of approving INSARAG advice and as such is the final check ensuring actions and advice published by the group are agreed by the group as a whole.

INSARAG Secretariat

Through structured reporting the INSARAG Secretariat facilitates coordinated communications between the different elements of INSARAG including channelling through the INSARAG Steering Group as required. On the practical side, the Secretariat ensures all events are arranged in cooperation with identified hosts. The Secretariat also administers the INSARAG website and the INSARAG USAR Directory.The Secretariat is hosted in the Emergency Response Section (ERS) of the Response Support Branch (RSB) (which was called in the past “Field Coordination Support Section of the Emergency Services Branch”of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva.

INSARAG Regional Groups

The INSARAG is organised into the three regional groups:  Africa/Europe/Middle East, Americas, and Asia/Pacific. In addition to regional events such as exercises, these Regional Groups also meet annually to agree on actions required to strengthen regional USAR response and ensure the strategic direction and policies from the INSARAG Steering Group are implemented. This meeting also serves as a channel for the collection of relevant information from participating countries for submission to the INSARAG Steering Group. Each Regional Group has at least one Regional Chair and Regional Vice-Chair. (For more information about Regional Groups, please refer to the Regional Groups pages).

As required, the INSARAG Steering Group may decide to create an INSARAG Regional Antenna. An INSARAG Regional Antenna is established and hosted by an INSARAG member country with the aim of enhancing the capacity of the INSARAG network in that region. Currently, there is only one INSARAG Regional Antenna for the INSARAG Africa/Europe/Middle East Regional Group (For more information regarding the INSARAG Regional Antenna, please refer to the INSARAG Africa/Europe/Middle East Regional Group pages).

INSARAG Working Groups

Task-specific Ad-hoc Working Groups are established at the request of the INSARAG Steering Group. The purpose of these working groups is to develop solutions to specific issues identified by the INSARAG. On completion of the task, the group disbands.

International USAR Team Leaders

This cross-regional network of experienced international USAR practitioners meets annually. These meetings provide a forum to discuss technical issues relating to training and best practice based on lessons learned from previous USAR operations and exercises. The collective input, advice and experience of this group serve to improve the operational capabilities of international USAR response.

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/150 of 16 December 2002 on ‘Strengthening the effectiveness and coordination of international urban search and rescue assistance’ is a product of the work of the INSARAG, who pursued its creation. This United Nations General Assembly Resolution makes many pertinent points central to the work of the INSARAG. It also endorses the INSARAG Guidelines and Methodology.

General Assembly Resolution 57/150 importantly highlights that each state has the responsibility first and foremost, to take care of the victims of natural disasters occurring within its borders and that this affected state has primacy, ‘in the initiation, organisation, coordination and implementation of humanitarian assistance’. The resolution is clear that international USAR should supplement existing in- country capacity such as local rescuers, also reinforcing the importance of timely coordination of these resources.

In considering incidents that have become too large for one country to handle, the resolution highlights the need for technically sound international assistance particularly in the field of USAR following earthquakes and other events resulting in structural collapse.

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/150 of 2002 (ArabicEnglishFrenchRussianSpanish)

Below are the list of sponsor countries of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/150 of 2002: 

Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America.