Comprehensive and Effective National Nuclear Legislation: IAEA Hosts Nuclear Law Institute Programme for Member States


A comprehensive and effective national legal framework is essential for the safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Assisting countries in improving their nuclear legal infrastructures was one of the goals of the 2015 Nuclear Law Institute course taking place this week and next.


“It is vital to have comprehensive nuclear laws in place that are in compliance with international legal treaties and protocols,” said Peri Lynne Johnson, Legal Adviser and Director, IAEA Office of Legal Affairs at the opening of the two-week course, held for the fifth time for senior government lawyers involved in the drafting of legislation related to the nuclear field. The aims of the programme are to clarify any doubts about legal requirements, as well as to extend support for legislative assistance and provide in-depth information about the various legal instruments to strengthen global nuclear safety standards and security guidance, Johnson explained.



Participants at the Nuclear Law Institute 2015 programme taking place in Baden, Austria. (Photo: D.Calma/IAEA)


This year 63 lawyers from 51 Member States are participating in the course, including Tin Tin Nyo, Deputy Director of the Department of Atomic Energy at Myanmar’s Ministry of Science and Technology. “We don’t have nuclear power, but it is important to understand what we have to do to at the national level as nuclear applications are also used in other sectors like health and agriculture for which we need to have necessary legal infrastructure in place and not ignore safety standards and security guidance,” Nyo said. “I hope to gain the necessary legal information that will help my country have a better understanding about nuclear law, as we are in the process of drafting a nuclear law, as well as radiation-related laws.”


Safety, security and nuclear verification


The course is focusing on the main pillars of nuclear law, which are to ensure safety and security, as well as to provide a legal framework for the implementation of the IAEA safeguards regime. Topics relating to international nuclear liability in case of a nuclear accident with cross-border implications will also be discussed.


“With a growing number of international instruments and their increasing complexity, requests for assistance by Member States in the area of nuclear law are on the rise,” said Wolfram Tonhauser, Head of the IAEA Nuclear and Treaty Law Section.



Legal experts at the opening session of the programme. (Photo: D.Calma/IAEA)


During the course, participants will discuss various multilateral treaties for which the IAEA Director General is depositary, such as the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, as well as the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the Convention on Nuclear Safety. A number of Member States are still in the process of developing or revising their national legislation to meet international legal requirements for the safe and secure use of nuclear science and technology. This training will help in providing a deeper understanding of the legal necessities, Johnson explained.


During the course, attendees will also receive training in drafting, amending and reviewing national nuclear legislation.


Participants said they were looking to use what they learn at the course in their day-to-day work. “We have new legislation coming up in Malaysia and this course will help us further understand what our legal requirements and obligations are,” said Noor Aswani Mahmood at the Legal Manager at Malaysian energy company Tenaga Nasional Berhad.


Martial Tiburce Zannou, Legal Expert at Benin’s Ministry of Health said that it was important for the stakeholders and the broader public to understand the importance of having the right legal framework in place. “They should be informed that we are working to have the obligatory legal framework in place to ensure safety and security against any possible risk from radiation.”


To countries with existing nuclear energy programmes, such as China and Pakistan, this course provides an opportunity to gain the latest information on nuclear legal treaties and safety standards and security guidance. “We are here to make full use of the opportunity to learn from leading experts in the field of nuclear law and share experiences and best practices with outstanding colleagues from various countries,” said Lili Xiao, Project Officer at the China Atomic Energy Authority.