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Addressing Nuclear Law Challenges and Strengthening Legal Frameworks in Europe and Central Asia


The regional workshop on nuclear law was organized in cooperation with the Government of Montenegro through the Ministry of Ecology, Spatial Planning and Urbanism. (Photo: Ministry of Ecology, Spatial Planning and Urbanism)

Some 30 legal and technical experts from 17 countries across Europe and Central Asia met in Montenegro to discuss international and national nuclear legal frameworks and to share national experiences. The regional workshop on nuclear law was organized by the IAEA, in cooperation with the Government of Montenegro through the Ministry of Ecology, Spatial Planning and Urbanism, and took place in Bar earlier this month.

A key element of the five-day workshop, from 4 to 8 September, was the roundtable discussions to identify key challenges and issues in nuclear law making and adherence to and implementation of the relevant international instruments adopted under the auspices of the IAEA.

In her opening remarks, Chenchen Liang, a focal point for the IAEA’s Legislative Assistance Programme for Europe and Central Asia, highlighted that “sound and comprehensive national and international legal frameworks are essential to realizing the many benefits of the safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Yet, the process of nuclear law making can often be challenging, complicated and lengthy. As for past workshops, this event provides an opportunity for discussions on the four pillars of nuclear law and the sharing of experiences and practice in this regard.” The four pillars of nuclear law are: safety, security, safeguards and civil liability for nuclear damage.

The workshop also provided an opportunity for participants to share their national experiences, including relevant national developments. Participants presented the status of their respective national nuclear legal frameworks and their development.

All countries in the workshop have nuclear legislation in place, with almost half having comprehensive national nuclear laws, many of which were developed with IAEA legislative assistance. Almost all countries in the workshop are party to all the relevant nuclear safety and security instruments. However, only a limited number are party to the modernized instruments on civil liability for nuclear damage, namely, the Protocol to Amend the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage and the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.

“In hosting such an important regional workshop, Montenegro will continue its efforts to work on strengthening our national legal framework in this area and effectively implementing the relevant international legal instruments,” said Kemal Grbovic, General Director of Montenegro’s Directorate for Environment and Climate Change, of the Ministry of Ecology, Spatial Planning and Urbanism Directorate for Ecology.

The corresponding legislative assistance activities that can support countries in this field were also addressed during bilateral discussions. The identified activities will be reflected in informal bilateral legislative assistance work plans for the next two years, which will be shared with the participating countries. During the workshop, interest was expressed in further training sessions in nuclear law, such as at the IAEA Nuclear Law Institute, at the IAEA Office of Legal Affairs and national seminars, as well as on technical aspects of the use of nuclear technology and its applications.

Marily Jaska of the Estonian Ministry of the Environment said, “As an embarking country seeking to develop a new nuclear programme, the knowledge and discussions from this workshop is informative and valuable. I will bring the information back to the preparation team and seek further legislative assistance from the IAEA Office of Legal Affairs.”

During the workshop, the IAEA team delivered several presentations on the international legal frameworks on nuclear safety, security, safeguards and liability, as well as terminology used in nuclear law and the elements of comprehensive national nuclear legal frameworks. 

The regional workshop is one of a succession of events for the region implemented during the past two years within the framework of the IAEA Legislative Assistance Programme, under the regional Project RER0048 of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme.

“Through the IAEA’s recent review of our Law on Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety and Security, we were able to address several issues, including the role and functions of the regulatory body, among other issues,” mentioned Branko Brajic from the Serbian Radiation and Nuclear Safety and Security Directorate. He continued, “I recommend that all countries benefit from the IAEA Legislative Assistance Programme by requesting activities.”

Legislative assistance is available to all Member States, upon request, irrespective of the country’s scope of activities and facilities. From 28 to 31 March 2023, a similar workshop was held for the first time in the Russian language, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. An earlier workshop was held from 20 to 24 January 2020 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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