The first steps in establishing a "Chernobyl Forum" to communicate objective, scientifically sound information about the effects of the 1986 nuclear power plant accident take place next week at the IAEA in Vienna. Representatives from the IAEA, United Nations organizations, and Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine are attending a three day meeting, 3-5 February, to agree on their next steps. The main focus will be on setting the Forum's goals and work plans.
One envisaged function of the Forum is to provide authoritative advice on ways to help countries and individuals in the ongoing recovery from the accident. Examples include advising on programmes to make contaminated land usable, and advising physicians on special health care for the local population.
Other important functions include: refining current scientific assessments on the long-term impacts of the Chernobyl accident on human health and the environment; promoting consensus on issues; identify gaps in research; and informing decisions makers, the general public and mass media on the effects of the accident.
IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, who initiated calls for the establishment of the Forum, said by clarifying information, the Forum could help to build trust in the global community.
"A lack of trust still prevails among the people of the region," he said, "due in part to the contradictory data and reports - on the precise environmental and health impacts of the accident - among national authorities, as well as among the relevant international organizations. In my view, it is helpful to establish a common forum on the consequences of Chernobyl, in which the relevant United Nations organizations and the governments of the affected countries would deliver a clear and unified message to the people of the region and the public at large."
The creation of the Chernobyl Forum builds on international efforts, including the IAEA's past and ongoing efforts and other studies, such as the UN report, The Human Consequences of the Chernobyl Accident: A Strategy for Recovery.
Other organizations from the UN system that make up the Forum include: the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN Development Programme, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank.
An international conference to inform decision-makers, the general public and mass media on the work, including the findings and recommendations of the Forum, is planned for 2004.