Project Description

The challenge posed by urban vulnerability is immense and is being compounded by rapid unplanned urbanisation, climate change and resource pressures. While the realisation that there is a fundamental shift in the landscape of crises to cities is no longer contested, aid actors are nonetheless grappling with the complexities of adapting their approaches to the urban context.

The PRUV project aims to inform the pressing need to reshape how humanitarian action and development aid is undertaken in urban areas in order to address the challenge posed by urban vulnerability. It seeks to combine existing best practice with innovative thinking and technology to challenge current state of the art thinking in order to arrive at a novel approach with affected urban populations at the centre. Furthermore, the opportunities to carry out the research in test-bed sites in Africa, Asia and Latin America adds to the potentially broad utility and transferability of the findings globally.

PRUV Aims and Objectives

The overall objective of the PRUV project is to develop evidence-based solutions that will inform preparedness and resilience interventions in order to make a lasting, sustainable contribution to addressing urban vulnerability. To achieve this objective the following specific objectives have been identified:

  1. To advance the state of the art by exploring the relationship between resilience and socio-economic issues across a range of societal institutions.

  2. To advance the state of the art by addressing the theoretical and practical gaps in the protection of crisis-affected communities and vulnerable groups in urban settings in order to acquire new evidence-based knowledge to foster resilience.

  3. To advance the state of the art by determining the contribution of existing legal frameworks at different levels of governance to urban resilience and how they can be improved.

  4. To advance the state of the art by positioning urban resilience within the human security paradigm.

  5. To advance the state of the art by modelling the effectiveness of public health preparedness interventions in urban settings for improving household, community, and local government resilience to humanitarian crises.

The IFHVs Lead: The Legal Dimension

Legal preparedness is essential for the timely and appropriate delivery of humanitarian assistance. However, legal frameworks concerning preparedness at the municipal level have not received the analysis they deserve, either by the NGO advocacy community or the academic community.

In the international legal context, progressive urbanisation can refer to two challenges: one challenge relates to the shift of hostilities during an armed conflict to urban areas. The other challenge concerns civilian urbanisation as a cause for vulnerabilities, violence and hostility. The latter challenge affects legal frameworks in an array of ways. Urban vulnerabilities pose a continuous challenge to securing and ensuring the implementation of public international law. Urban violence and hostilities can be conceptualised in the international human rights law framework as well as in the field of international humanitarian law.

Analogous to identified vulnerabilities stemming from rapid urbanisation, i.e. urban violence, extreme poverty and natural hazards, the chief focus of work package III lies on urban resilience and legal frameworks. Work package III distinguished between the application of the laws of peace, placing a particular focus on the state’s international human rights law obligations, the laws of armed conflict, and the humanitarian action framework, including international disaster response law. In so far as the implementation of international obligations must be considered, the work package will furthermore analyse the pertinent domestic legislation in the three test-bed sites.

Project Phases
pruv timeline
The IFHV Project Team

Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Heintze

Charlotte Lülf, LL.M., M.A.

Laura Hofmann, LL.M.

with support of the members of the IFHV Research Cluster II

Project Outreach

Project site:



Project Partners
 pruv map
Centre for Humanitarian Action, University College Dublin; Concern Worldwide; Future Analytics Consulting; Plan International; Globalisation Studies Groningen, University of Groningen; Human Rights Institute, University of Deusto; Center for Reproductive Health, Gadjah Mada University; Yayasan Cipta Cara Padu (YCCP); Jesuit Refugee Service (Latin America and the Caribbean)

PRUV Work package III research output

Review article
Ronan McDermott, Charlotte Luelf, Laura Hofmann, Pat Gibbons, (2017) "International law applicable to urban conflict and disaster", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 26 Issue: 5, pp.553-564,

Legal briefs within the framework of Cluster II
The Protection of Privacy and Family (Articles 17 and 23 ICCPR) in the Urban Vulnerability Context
The concept of Human Security in Colombia, Indonesia and Kenya
Liberty and Security of Persons – Article 9 ICCPR
Regional Mechanisms – The Inter-American Human Rights System
Regional Mechanisms in Africa
Housing, Land and Property Rights in Colombia, Indonesia and Kenya



Funding Organization

Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation, European Union