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The UN GA Resolution 57/150 of 16 December 2002 on “Strengthening the Effectiveness and Coordination of International USAR Assistance” stresses the need to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) assistance. A key factor in achieving this objective is the ongoing development of USAR capacity, especially within countries with a high risk of structural collapse from either natural or technical disasters.

Countries may look to develop USAR capacity for domestic purposes only, or they may look to develop capacity with the view to becoming an international donor of USAR response assistance. Either way however, countries are encouraged to develop USAR capacity in accordance with the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Guidelines. The INSARAG Guidelines, developed and practiced by emergency responders from around the world, serve to guide international USAR teams and disaster-affected countries during international USAR response operations as well as providing guidance on how to develop USAR capacity.

A USAR Capacity Assessment Mission aims to identify existing capacities and determine the required capacities according to the country’s USAR objectives. This provides an indication of the gaps between the current capacity and the required capacity which in turn assists in defining the USAR capacity development strategy.

The INSARAG network provides unique access to a pool of experienced, qualified USAR experts that are able to conduct an assessment of existing capacity, mapped against needs and who are then able to assist with the design and subsequent implementation of USAR Capacity Development initiatives.