Minimize Activating the Charter

There are several mechanisms to activate the Charter. It is based on a pre-defined list of appointed users, known as 'Authorized Users' (AUs). Until now AUs are typically disaster management authorities, from countries of Charter member agencies, able to request Charter support for emergencies in their own country, or in a country with which they cooperate for disaster relief.

Since its inception, the Charter has demonstrated a strong commitment to expanding its number of users. Initiatives include collaboration with UNITAR/UNOSAT and UN OOSA, active in many countries and who can submit requests to support in-country UN relief agencies, and Sentinel Asia, a regional network for Earth observation-based Emergency Response in 32 countries.

Universal Access

Building on a decade of success in making satellite data available for disaster response, the International Charter is now opening its doors even wider. The Charter Members have adopted the principle of Universal Access to further strengthen the Charter's contribution to disaster management worldwide. Any national disaster management authority will be able to submit requests to the Charter for emergency response. Proper procedures will have to be followed, but the affected country will not have to be a Charter member.

Universal Access benefits national disaster management authorities in countries beyond those of the Charter members, previously unable to make direct requests to the Charter.

A registration process is in place for national authorities interested in participating in the Charter as an "Authorized User". This process will validate the ability of national authorities to access and use Charter assets for disaster response, in accordance with Charter operational procedures. Steps and applicable conditions are explained in the Charter's Universal Access Information Brochure available together with its Registration form.


charter access

Map showing countries (in dark blue) with direct access to the Charter in November 2017: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, India, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Malawi, Myanmar, New Caledonia, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela and the countries of the European Union. Today, Universal Access allows national users from 60 countries to directly submit emergency requests as Authorized Users. In addition, the Charter collaborates with Sentinel Asia, a regional network for Earth observation-based Emergency response in 28 countries (91 national organisations) and 15 International Organizations, and with UNITAR/UNOSAT and UNOOSA, active in many countries and who can submit requests to support in-country relief agencies of the United Nations. All countries of the world can benefit from the Charter by any of the ways described above. Since 2000, there have been 573 disasters covered in 124 countries worldwide.

Sequence of Events

The following illustration depicts the sequence of events that occur once the Charter is activated. Beginning with the authorized user (bottom left), follow the sequence with your mouse for a brief description of each step, and click on any of the steps for more in-depth information.

An Authorized User can call a single number to request the mobilization of the space and associated ground resources associated with Charter members in order to obtain data and information on a disaster occurrence.

A 24-hour on-duty operator receives the call, checks the identity of the requestor and verifies that the User Request form, sent by the Authorized User, is correctly completed.

The operator passes the information to an Emergency On-Call Officer who analyzes the request and the scope of the disaster with the Authorized User, and prepares an archive and acquisition plan using available satellite resources.

Data acquisition and delivery takes place on an emergency basis, and a Project Manager, who is qualified in data ordering, handling and application, assists the user throughout the process.

Charter Operational Loop

charter loop


Authorized Users (AU)

Authorized User (AU)
  • They are the bodies authorized to request the services of the Charter
  • Typically they are national civil protection, rescue, defense and security bodies
  • They are recognized to be the Charter Associated Bodies
  • They receive the single (ODO) phone number
Exceptionally, the Board may allow certain organizations with which the Charter Parties and Partner Agencies have an interest to cooperate, or 'Cooperating Bodies', to request the Charter data.

On-Duty Operator (ODO)

On-Duty Operator (ODO)
  • Available 24h/day, 7 days/week
  • Receives calls requesting space data images and information
  • Identifies the caller as being an AU
  • Obtains and confirms with the AU the information required
  • Transmits the information to the ECO (AU coordinates)
  • Contacts the ECO within an hour

Emergency On-Call Officer (ECO)

Emergency On-Call Officer (ECO)


  • Available 24h/day, 7 days/week
  • Processes the information received from the ODO
  • Verifies the validity of the disaster relief data request
  • Identifies the most timely and appropriate satellite resource and prepares a draft plan
  • Gets the Space Agency user's approval
  • AAP (Archives / Acquisition plan)
  • Tasks the appropriate Space Agency
  • Submits request for new images or archives
  • Gathers all relevant information in the dossier
  • Transfers dossier to the Project Manager
  • Informs Space Agencies of the status of their space resources

Members (Space Agencies)

Members (Space Agencies)
  • Plan acquisitions according to request submitted by ECO
  • Resolve any conflicts and suggest alternate acquisitions if necessary
  • Program their respective space resources (satellites) to acquire the requested data over the area affected by the disaster
  • Not all of the space resources can provide relevant data for all types of disasters.
  • Hence, not all of the space resources are necessarily tasked for each Charter request

Value Added Reseller

Space Resources (Satellites)
  • Once the data is acquired, it is processed into images
  • VA further processes and interprets the data acquired over the area affected by the disaster and delivers the images to the End User

Project Manager (PM)

Project Manager (PM)
  • Identified by Executive Secretariat when Charter is activated
  • Available during normal working hours
  • Ensures data is sent to the end user
  • Confirms accuracy of data sent to user
  • Ability to interpret data
  • Coordinates, when required, the delivery of value-added products and information
  • Completes dossier with a report submitted to the International Charter Executive Secretariat

Mechanisms to activate the Charter

There are several mechanisms for a user organisation to submit a request to activate the Charter:

Direct activation

A pre-defined list of appointed users, known as 'Authorized Users' (AUs), can submit a request for a disaster occurring in their country. The only bodies authorised to directly request the Charter to be activated are the AUs (typically civil protection agencies, governmental relief organisations, or other authorities with a mandate related to disaster management).

Activation via an Authorised User on behalf of a user from a non-member country ('sponsor Authorised User')

Authorised Users can access the Charter to request support for a disaster in a country with which they cooperate for relief purposes.

Activation via the UN for UN users

The Charter has an agreement with UN OOSA (Vienna) and UNITAR/UNOSAT (Geneva) to provide support to UN agencies. UN OOSA and UNITAR/UNOSAT may submit requests on behalf of users from the United Nations.

Activation for Asia Pacific users via Sentinel Asia's partner, the Asian Disaster Reduction Centre

Sentinel Asia is a regional collaboration for Earth observation based emergency response in 31 Asia Pacific countries.

Since 2009 the Charter has granted the Asian Disaster Reduction Centre the right to submit activation requests on behalf of national users of Sentinel Asia.

Further actions to improve Charter access with GEO

In response to a request from the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) to improve access to the Charter during emergencies, collaboration has started with primary focus on users from African countries that do not have a direct access to the Charter. In 2009, the Charter initiated a formal user consultation to address the improvement of Charter access in African countries.

Universal Access Information Brochure & User Registration Form

Emergency related enquiries

New users without direct access to the Charter should address emergency related enquiries to:

General information enquiries

General enquiries concerning the Charter operations and provisions should be addressed to:

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