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IAEA's Nuclear Law Institute Opens This Week in Baden, Austria

(Photo: IAEA)

Lawyers and regulators from 53 Member States in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Latin America have gathered this week in Baden, Austria for the start of the Nuclear Law Institute (NLI), a two-week training event on nuclear law conducted annually by the IAEA since 2011.

The NLI was established to support all Members States in their efforts to improve legislation drafting skills to support the development and maintenance of a sound legal framework for the control of the peaceful applications of nuclear energy. This includes translating into national laws and regulations the international legal instruments adopted under IAEA auspices.

“I am attending the NLI training with the aim of learning how best to consolidate legal norms into comprehensive legislation. In general, regulation of the nuclear industry is highly specialized and often complicated because there are multiple aspects that need to be addressed in national nuclear laws”, said Fulufhelo Ndou from the National Nuclear Regulator of South Africa.

The event gathers legal experts and officials involved in the drafting of nuclear legislation, or having a stake in the legislative process, coming mostly from regulatory authorities and ministries of energy, mines and justice.

For Ms Ina Grigalashvili, a legal officer of the newly established Agency of Nuclear and Radiation Safety in Georgia, “this training is very timely for me to learn about recent developments in nuclear law, and about approaches and ways to deal with the complex legal issues related to nuclear and radiation safety and security, through the discussions and sharing of experiences with participants”.

During the course, participants will learn about the elements of comprehensive nuclear legislation and the related international legal framework for safety, security, safeguards and nuclear liability. They will also participate in exercises where they will develop their skills in drafting nuclear legislation. Special sessions will focus on the legal aspects of current topics of interest, such as the financial aspects of decommissioning or small- and medium-sized reactors.

In his opening remarks Mr Wolfram Tonhauser, Head of the Nuclear and Treaty Law Section of the Office of Legal Affairs, noted that, “Member States seek more and more to benefit from the applications involving ionizing radiation in medicine, industry and agriculture and some are also considering or working towards the first-time introduction of nuclear power, so the IAEA legislative assistance programme has an increasingly important role in assisting them to develop their national legal frameworks – and the NLI has become a key component in this regard.”

A key note speaker for the event, Mr Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the Division of Technical Cooperation for Africa, emphasized the importance of having a robust legal and radiation safety infrastructure to enable Member States to benefit fully from the peaceful use of nuclear technology in areas such as medicine, agriculture, energy and industry and for ensuring that this technology is used in a safe and secure manner.

Albert Edwards, Deputy Solicitor General of Belize referred to this contribution when explaining that “my participation in this 7th session of the NLI is a further continuation of the IAEA’s various capacity-building engagements with Belize during its 60th Anniversary year, which included a highly successful IAEA meeting on legal frameworks for nuclear applications for Caribbean States hosted by Belize last April. The NLI, with its well-structured and interactive programme, is an appreciated step on the journey for Belize’s safe and peaceful utilization of nuclear applications for development.”

The IAEA helps Member States to gain capacity not only in nuclear science and technology, but also in the establishment of suitable legal and regulatory frameworks for the safe, secure and peaceful use of this technology through training activities such as the Nuclear Law Institute.