Civil protection, or emergency preparedness as it is known in the USA, has grown in response to the need to protect populations against natural and technological disasters. Over the past two decades it has partially supplanted civil defence, which is primarily concerned with civilian response to armed aggression. This article traces the evolution of both fields and analyses their often uneasy relationship. It discusses the probable long‐term effect of the US terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 on emergency management policies around the world and considers the implications of the probable changes in terms of citizen’s rights and expectations in disaster situations. With the new emphasis on anti‐terrorism measures, and a new spirit of authoritarianism, civil defense appears to be becoming resurgent at the expense of the more democratic forms of crisis management inherent in modern civil protection arrangements.
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