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IAEA Sub-Regional Workshop on Nuclear Law for Asia and the Pacific Region


IAEA experts and participants from Member States at the sub-regional workshop on nuclear law for Asia and the Pacific region, taking place in Abu Dhabi, UAE. (Photo: FANR)

Around 40 legal and technical experts from eight countries came together in a sub-regional workshop on nuclear law for Asia and the Pacific region this month, to learn about international and national nuclear legal frameworks and to share national experiences and lessons learned within the region.

A key aspect of the workshop, which took place from 5 to 8 December in Abu Dhabi, was the inclusion of bilateral discussions with participating country representatives, held with the aim of identifying key challenges and issues in nuclear law-making and the corresponding legislative assistance activities that can support countries in this field. The identified activities will be reflected in informal bilateral Legislative Assistance work-plans for the next two years, which will be shared with participating countries.

“National nuclear law making typically involves many people who play critical roles, ranging from policy makers to legislative drafters and lawyers, to regulators and officials, as well as legislators. The law-making process is not always an easy task to complete. Getting all the parts to work as a whole takes a degree of ‘legal engineering’ with the entire law-making process typically taking many years,” said Mr Wolfram Tonhauser, Head of the Nuclear and Treaty Law Section at the IAEA’s Office of Legal Affairs. “At the IAEA we understand not only the main challenges, but also the specificities of nuclear law and law-making, and through the IAEA Legislative Assistance Programme we make nuclear law-making easier.”

During the four-day workshop, IAEA representatives and participants discussed the international legal frameworks on nuclear safety, nuclear security, safeguards and civil liability for nuclear damage. The terminology used in nuclear law and the elements of comprehensive nuclear laws, were also addressed. The workshop also provided an opportunity for the participants to share their national experiences in this field, including developments since the previous workshop in 2019, in Vienna. Finally, roundtable discussions enabled fruitful exchanges to take place on issues, challenges and opportunities in the area of national legal frameworks and the international legal instruments, from both a national and regional perspective.

Some of the countries represented at the workshop are parties to the relevant international legal instruments for nuclear safety, security and safeguards. Others are continuing their consideration of becoming party to the instruments. “More efforts are needed to improve status of adherence to the nuclear liability instruments adopted under IAEA auspices. With regard to national nuclear law, only a few represented countries have enacted a comprehensive nuclear law, whereas several others have developed draft laws but have not yet enacted them, some having faced challenges in this regard. The workshop raised awareness among the participants in the region” said Anthony Wetherall, Legal Officer, IAEA Legislative Assistance Lead.

Dr Nader Al-Awadhi, Executive Commissioner for International Cooperation at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, highlighted the importance of IAEA support to countries through regional technical cooperation projects. “Kuwait has benefitted greatly from recent legislative assistance leading to the development of a final draft nuclear law which is to be submitted through the formal law-making processes,” he said.

During the workshop, interest was expressed for advanced training sessions in nuclear law and for training for lawyers on technical aspects. Interest was also expressed for a new pilot workshop on nuclear law to be developed, first addressing legislative and regulatory elements and then the safety, security and safeguards elements of nuclear law more comprehensively – known as the “3Ss”. A sub-regional workshop on civil liability for nuclear damage was proposed to be held next year. Finally, the need for a renewed focus on the development of simplified and tailored messages for decision-makers and parliamentarians was highlighted as of particular importance in supporting the development and enactment of legislation.

Khalid Saleh Said Al-Rubkhi, Legal Researcher at the Foreign Ministry in Oman, highlighted that the country now has its first draft of a nuclear law following a few years of development. “We look forward to sharing the draft with the IAEA for comments and discussing them in the near future,” he said.

Zahera Abdel Razzaq Bdeiwi Tbeishat, Director of the Legal Directorate at Jordan’s Energy and Minerals Regulatory Commission (EMRC), informed that Jordan was assessing the viability of several nuclear technologies and long-term sustainability and feasibility of deployment. “This workshop provided a useful opportunity to share our experience in developing legislation for the safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear technology and to learn from our neighbours,” she said.

The workshop was organized by the IAEA in cooperation with the Government of the United Arab Emirates through the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation. The workshop is one of a succession of events for the region within the framework of the IAEA Legislative Assistance Programme, under the regional Project RAS0090 of the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programme. Assistance under the IAEA Legislative Assistance Programme is available to all States, upon request, irrespective of the scope of activities and facilities in each country.

“Despite the specific challenges from this region, this workshop successfully raised a certain level of awareness and transferred knowledge,” said Gashaw Wolde, Head of the Division for Asia and the Pacific at the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation. “We will continue to support Member States in the region, upon request, through a regional TC project on legislative assistance and nuclear law.”

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