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IAEA Workshop Promotes Adherence to Key Nuclear Safety International Conventions

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Opening of the plenary session of the Convention on Nuclear Safety 7th Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties at the Agency’s Headquarters in Vienna, Austria. 27 March 2017. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

An IAEA workshop held in December in Vienna aimed to encourage countries to join the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.

“The Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention are the major cornerstones of the international legal framework for nuclear safety,” said Wolfram Tonhauser, Head of the Nuclear and Treaty Law Section in the IAEA Office of Legal Affairs.

The conventions aim to commit participating States to maintain a high level of safety by setting international benchmarks to which States would subscribe. The IAEA Director General is the depositary for both conventions.

“Being a contracting party to these conventions contributes, through the review process, to reaching a higher level of safety worldwide and demonstrates a firm national commitment to nuclear safety and safety in the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste,” said Gerard Bruno, Head of the IAEA Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management Unit. “The conventions are based on the IAEA safety standards, which reflect an international consensus on what constitutes a high level of safety for protecting people and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation.”

The legal and technical experts that took part in the workshop represented 12 of the countries that have not yet adhered to both conventions: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Workshop participants learned about the conventions’ key requirements, peer-review processes, history and future meetings and workshops They also discussed the legal and regulatory framework for safety in their countries and shared experiences on policies and programmes for safe management of radioactive waste.

The peer review process for both conventions culminate at review meetings, held every three years. Ahead of such meetings, contracting parties submit national reports on their work under the convention for review by other countries. The workshop featured a simulated Joint Convention review meeting to strengthen participants’ understanding of the peer review process.

“We received practical information that we cannot find in any documents or guidelines,” said workshop participant Mohamed Moulay, the Director of the Algerian Atomic Energy Commission.

The two conventions are closely related and complement each other. The Convention on Nuclear Safety, with 85 contracting parties, sets international benchmarks in the area of nuclear installation siting, design, construction and operation. The Joint Convention, with 80 contracting parties, is the only legally binding international instrument to address the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management on a global scale.

Also highlighted at the workshop was the IAEA’s  legislative assistance, which is offered to Member States to enhance their understanding of the conventions and other international legal instruments, and to facilitate their implementation in national nuclear legislation.

Workshop attendees learned about the history, requirements and peer-review process of two key nuclear safety conventions. (Photo: IAEA)

Last update: 20 Dec 2018

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