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IAEA Nuclear Law Institute: Supporting Global Development of National Nuclear Legislation


The IAEA's Nuclear Law Institute is taking place from 10 to 21 October in Vienna. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA) 

Sixty lawyers and regulators from 54 of the IAEA’s Member States are taking part in lectures and practical exercises covering all areas of nuclear law at a two-week intensive training course, known as the Nuclear Law Institute (NLI), currently underway in Vienna.

The participants are being trained on nuclear law in general as well as more specialized topics in the field, such as the legal aspects related to small and medium size reactors, nuclear safety and developments in nuclear fusion; the relationship between environmental law and nuclear law, and legal aspects regarding financing of nuclear decommissioning and waste management.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi highlighted the impact of global challenges, such as global warming, in elevating interest in nuclear energy and its applications. He also emphasized the importance of appropriate legislation for the applications of nuclear technologies, including those aimed to mitigate the effects of climate change. “You are participants of this course at a very crucial time in terms of nuclear activities,” he told attendees in his lecture on the future prospects of nuclear law.

The NLI was established 12 years ago, initiated by the IAEA as a response to the increasing demand for capacity-building in the field of nuclear law. Since then, the annual event, postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has served as an arena to educate and support countries in the development of national nuclear legislation, covering all areas of nuclear safety, security, safeguards and civil liability for nuclear damage. This is the tenth session of its kind.

Highlighting that since 2011 around 600 officials have been trained through the Institute, IAEA Legal Advisor and Director of the Office of Legal Affairs Peri Lynne Johnson, said: “The NLI has made a major contribution to the establishment and enhancement of adequate national nuclear legal frameworks in Member States.”

The training course adopts a modern practice-based methodology, with lectures followed by facilitated group sessions in which participants partake in legislative drafting exercises with a senior legal or regulatory professional as ‘facilitator’, guiding them through in-depth discussions. In total, around 30 well-known experts in various aspects of nuclear law are presenting topics during the intensive two-week course.

“The purpose is to provide participants with an understanding of all relevant aspects of nuclear law as well as the practical experience of drafting, amending and reviewing national nuclear legislation,” said Johnson.

This week is the final week of the Institute, with sessions covering nuclear liability and insurance, safeguards and non-proliferation as well as special sessions on nuclear trade, legal framework for the management of transboundary nuclear risk, the relationship between environmental law and nuclear law, decommissioning and small modular reactors (SMRs).

At the end of the week, participant groups will present a draft national nuclear law under a hypothetical country profile, explaining each article in the legislation, followed by a plenary session of questions from the participants to the experts in the panel. “I am really looking forward to the remaining sessions and participating more in the FIG Group, which is the drafting group, and to presenting in the plenary forum about the draft law on Friday,” saidAlamgir Khan, Director of Legal Affairs of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. “This two-week Nuclear Law Institute session is very informative and comprehensive, and has provided fundamental knowledge on nuclear law. It is an important project to facilitate Member States to prepare and develop national nuclear legislation.”

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