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Developments and Challenges in Nuclear Law: IAEA Sub-Regional Workshop for Member States in Asia and the Pacific

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About 20 legal advisors, officials and experts from nine countries in the Middle East participated in a workshop on nuclear law at the IAEA in Vienna. (Photo: IAEA Office of Legal Affairs)

About 20 legal advisors, officials and experts from nine countries in the Middle East participated in a workshop on nuclear law at the IAEA in Vienna. Organised under the IAEA legislative assistance programme, the sub-regional workshop, which was held from 9 to 12 December, provided an opportunity for representatives to share experiences and lessons learned related to international and national legal frameworks for the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technology and its applications.

“As Member States seek to benefit from nuclear technology and its application in electricity production, medicine, industry, agriculture and many other areas, the IAEA legislative assistance programme has come to play an increasingly important role in assisting them to develop their legal frameworks accordingly,” said Peri L. Johnson, IAEA Legal Adviser and Director of the Office of Legal Affairs.

The IAEA nuclear liability instruments, to which one of the nine participating countries adheres, were highlighted for nuclear power plants in operation and in the planning phase, as well as for nuclear materials traveling through the sub-region. Since the previous workshop in 2016, two Member States have joined one or more legal instruments under IAEA auspices, and another Member State has adopted nuclear legislation into their national legal system. Other Member States are in the process of either drafting or adopting nuclear legislations.

Representatives highlighted challenges in developing national nuclear legislation, including the need to establish a regulatory body that is independent in its safety and security related decision making. They also discussed proposals to establish other regulatory bodies with responsibilities unrelated to nuclear activities and facilities that could potentially dilute the competence and compromise the discharge of the nuclear regulator’s responsibilities.

Many representatives stressed the importance of strengthening efforts to build capacity in nuclear law and to continue promoting the benefits of international legal instruments and comprehensive national nuclear legislation. Participants recognized the support of the Agency provided through the IAEA Nuclear Law Institute (NLI), an annual two-week intensive training course in nuclear law, as well as a sub-regional training course focused on drafting national nuclear legislation.

Under the new regional Technical Cooperation project, RAS0085, legislative activities focused on facilitating adherence to legal instruments, drafting nuclear legislation and training in nuclear law, were identified in draft bilateral workplans between each Member State and the Office of Legal Affairs.

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