Civil Protection in Austria

Civil Defense, Civil Protection, and Disaster Management in Austria

The Federal Ministry of the Interior is responsible for the coordination of National Crisis Management and National Disaster Management, Crisis Response, International Disaster Relief and Civil Protection.

Thus, in Austria one single authority at Federal level is responsible for the coordination of trans-regional and international disasters. This enables a quicker and better response in crisis situations.

Department II/13 – Crisis and Disaster Management within the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for

The terms "Zivilschutz", "Katastrophenschutz", and "Bevölkerungsschutz" are often used in different ways. "Disaster Management" comprises prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Civil Protection – then and now

Civil Protection then
Civil Protection then © BMI

Up to the mid-1980s, Civil Protection was meant to be the protection of the civilian population from war. As the core of "civilian national defense", Civil Protection was integrated into the concept of "comprehensive national defense", which was based on East-West confrontation.

Through the initiative of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, in 1985 a new approach was introduced to Civil Protection in Austria. Civil Protection was increasingly used in terms of protection from disasters, and less from acts of war.

From this time, self-protection and public education on protective measures were given greater attention.

With the end of the Cold War, the framework for security policy significantly changed. Challenges within security policy such as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism, organized crime, environmental problems, technological risks, epidemics and similar phenomena replaced former military threats.

Civil Protection now
Civil Protection now © BMI


On 12 December 2001 the National Assembly of Austria adopted a new security and defense doctrine which in 2011 was further developed into a comprehensive Austrian Security Strategy.  Natural and man-made disasters were identified as threats and challenges of our time.

Today "Zivilschutz" in Austria is defined as the "entirety of all measures taken to protect the population against hazards that result from natural and technological disasters as well as acts of terrorism or war." "Katastrophenschutz" is defined as the "entirety of all measures taken prior to a disaster in the field of Disaster Prevention and Disaster Preparedness". Following its use in Germany and Switzerland, the term "Bevölkerungsschutz" has been established as an umbrella term for "Zivilschutz" and "Katastrophenschutz". The term "Zivilschutz" in this context is understood in its original meaning and supplemented by the term "Katastrophenschutz" for natural and technological disasters.

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Department II/13 of the MOI – Crisis and Disaster Management, Civil Contingency Coordination

Department II/13 of the Federal Ministry of the Interior is responsible for crisis and disaster management. The department is divided into four units: "National Crisis and Disaster Management and Civil Protection", "International Crisis and Disaster Affairs", "Operation an Coordination Centre" and the "Civil Protection Training".

Structure and Responsibilities in Department II/13

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