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          In all the countries in the world, civil protection is an organised response of the society to the risks which endanger people, property and environment. It is the integral system and the broadest form of organising, preparing and participating in protection and rescuing in the case of natural catastrophies, technical-technological accidents, war destructions and other dangers in peace. Civil protection as an actitivity which is performed today in peace and in war time: before, in the course and after the tasks from the sphere of defence and armed combat are being performed. This humanitarian activity is regulated by the international law, the Geneva convention from 1949 and the Additional protocols from 1977.

          Civil protection, in its modern meaning, has been established on the teritorry of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia since 1955, while its conception and organisation were set as a system 20 years ago. By the adopting of the FRY Defence Act in 1994, civil protection had had organisational solutions at the world level, completely in accord with the laws on protection and rescuing regulating these matters in most European countries. Today, it is within the administration of the federal Defence Ministry and regulated by the Yugoslav Defence Act (Official Gazette of the FRY, No. 43/94) and the Decree on organisation and training of the civil protection units and on the measures of protection and rescuing civilians and property (Official Gazette of the FRY, No. 54/94).

          Although the existing legal regulations stipulates certain elements of civil protection (measures, units, running), it can be seen that the creators of the Defence Act ignored the organisational, functional, practical and expert experiences in civil protection. Starting from the notion determined as "Civil defence and protection", which had not been familiar in our (or in the international) theory or practice by then, and ending with the content of the articles in this law, the Defence Act treats the sphere of civil protection in a very superficial manner, not regulating it in harmony with the nature of its tasks, with the international experience and with the postulates of the international law. Contemporary position of civil protection within the management of Defence Ministry is not, we may say, unknown in the international practice but still this question certainly needs to be solved in a different way. It would, first of all, mean acknoledging the specific aspects of civil protection as an activity winthin the competence of different ministries, due to its functions in peace and the need to regulate this issue by one system law. There are several solutions which could - whether in the state union of Serbia and Montenegro or at a republic level - fulfil the prerequisits needed for better functioning of this system and organising according to our needs and possibilities, as well as to the international standards.

          First of the solutions possible would, certainly, be to form a special organisation for civil protection. Separating the classic activities of "military defence" from the issues of civil protection gives, in a great deal, a free space for independent regulation of these matters. This, rational solution and an adequate administrative position would eliminate the causes of numerous problems. Special organisations for civil protection operate today in many countries and most often they are directly connected with the executives - from the local self-management up to the top level of the state. The proposed optimal model of the organisation for civil protection is given in the final declaration of the 11th World Conference on Civil Protection, held in Beijing in 1998.

          The second possibility is to form the administrative office for civil protection in the Interior Ministry, which makes a good temporary/transitory option until a special organisation has been formed. Even as a permanent solution, this model would meet functional needs, at first place. The style of organising civil protection is flexible enough to enable a relatively simple introducing of this sub-system into the police structure. On the other hand, the functional compatibility of civil protection is not to be specially discussed. Simple integration - in organisational and functional aspects - of these activities in the same administrative environment is possible. Let us remind of the fact that the professional service of fire combat, as a key part of the system for protection and rescuing, is in charge of the Interior Ministry.

          The third solution would be to form the joint ministry for environmental and civil protection, making one administrative unit for the most important elements of the system for protection and rescuing. These activities are significantly compatible so it is possible to re-organise the existing Environmental Protection Ministry and to transfer the total of activities: civil protection and the observation and information service would be completely united in a new administrative frame.

          Clear administrative and organisational place of civil protection, as well as its adequate legal regulating, would make the first step toward more complete definition and determinitation of the strategy for this system in our country. This goal is set not only because of the need to regulate the system of protection and rescuing and make it functionally useful, but also due to the standards of the international community. No matter what administrative position is given to civil protection, it needs to be defined as an activity within the competence of different ministries, not limited by the frame of any other social sub-system. All local and international experiences, especially those from the NATO aggression, show that the system of protection and rescuing as a whole must be capable of performing tasks in peace - the response to catastrophie (natural catastrophies and technical-technological catastrophies) in order to take part in defence of the country as a complete and developed system, in the case of war, and to adapt to war conditions more easily. In connection to that, each of the solutions accepted should fulfil following conditions:

          - civil protection is to be established as an intrinsic state function, through the functioning of the civil organisation for civil protection;
          - running civil protection is to be direct and released from any unnecessary intermediaries, particularly artificial ones - those which have no other function in the running process but to justify their own existance;
          - organisation for civil protection is to be rationally organised, with particularly better harmonising of all participants’ activities, providing help on time and adequate prevention and actions;
          - equipment supplied for civil protection should be appropriate to real needs, not to any arbitrary decision;
          - released from the old fashioned rules, civil protection is to be directed more quickly to the usage of modern methods and means of prediction and surveillance of possible risks for people, property and environment;
          - modern information system is to be built, to meet complete needs in protection and rescuing;
          - planning process is to be released from old fashioned forms and more based on the capacities of top experts;
          - prerequisites for international cooperation are to be created, on the bases of mutual benefits and respect for the established principles of international communication;
          - civil protection is to be more present, particularly in the media and in creating apropriate cultural prerequisites for further education and upbringing whole population in the spirit of responsibility and solidarity of life in a contemporary state; the basis is to be activism and taking responsibility for the affairs of common interest and chanelling new energies to social integration;
          - personell and material capacities are to be used optimally in an integrated system of protection and rescuing;
          - all systems operating in peace and dealing with protection and rescuing are to be united.

          Priority activities, directed to creating a long-term strategy of civil protection development are as follows:
          - creation of a single law on civil protection, in order to give normative prerequisits for uniting all systems of protection and bridge over legal and normative unclear and confusing points;
          - linking civil protection and territorial organisation of the state, particularly in matter of actions of protection and rescuing and coordination of prevention, from the level of the state union to republics, districts and municipalities;
          - planned supplying of civil protection units with the equipment;
          - activation of the centre for training civil protection personell and establishing expert cadre;
          - employing experts at the empty posts in the system of civil protection;
          - technical control and taking over all public shelters from the State Company for Shelters, and making possible changes in the system of their categories;
          - re-establishing the position of civil protection commisioners as a basic function in running civil protection, in the sphere of personal and mutual protection;
          - regulating the rights and obligations of companies, organisations and services dealing with protection and rescuing as a regular activity;
          - defining the position and the role of local self-management in the system of civil protection;
          - intensifying international cooperation in the sphere of civil protection.

          One of the jobs that cannot wait for changing the law is the issue of running protection and rescuing. The existing headquarters of the units are aimed only to run the operative actions of civil protection units, therefore there is a vacuum at all levels of running protection and rescuing as a whole. The other problems should also be solved as quickly as possible, having in mind the importance of civil protection as a component part of a defence system in state union of Serbia and Montenegro, as in any other country. This integrative and primarily humanitarian activity is not only the obligation of the whole society but also a daily need, developed through recognition of authentic public interes in protection people and property. 

        • Tags: civil protection, Serbia, Law, enviroment
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