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Nuclear Law in Africa: Issues and Challenges Discussed at IAEA Virtual Workshop

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The virutal regional workshop on nuclear law hosted for Member States from the African region was part of a series of events held within the context of the IAEA Legislative Assistance Programme (Photo: IAEA)

About 100 legal advisors, officials and experts from 39 IAEA Member States from the African region participated in a virtual regional workshop on nuclear law. The workshop, which served as a platform to exchange views and share experiences and lessons learned related to the international and national legal frameworks for the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technology, was held in two parts: the first for English-speakers on 24-27 May and the second for French-speakers on 7-10 June.

Participants were informed about the international legal instruments adopted by and under the auspices of the IAEA in the areas of nuclear safety, security, safeguards and civil liability for nuclear damage. The workshop also provided an opportunity to cover the elements of a comprehensive national nuclear legal framework. “This virtual workshop enabled us to raise important questions and talk about very complex nuclear law issues, especially as the discussions were conducted in French,” said Ahmed Bezeid Deida from the National Authority for Radiation Protection, Safety and Nuclear Security in Mauritania.

An important outcome of the workshop was identifying specific activities to be implemented by the IAEA Office of Legal Affairs during the next two years to address the needs of participating countries, particularly to enhance their respective national nuclear legal frameworks. Many participants agreed that the continued training of lawyers to support national capacity building in assessing, revising and maintaining an up-to-date comprehensive national legal framework was high on the agenda. “Our country and many others in the region could benefit from sub-regional advanced training to cover all areas of nuclear law in greater detail. It would contribute to the training of local lawyers and legislative drafters, as well as enable the sharing of experiences between countries,” said Chigoziri Nwakanma from the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission.

Wolfram Tonhauser, IAEA Head of the Nuclear Treaty Law Section, said, “There is an increasing need for the IAEA, upon request, to create awareness among parliamentarians and decision makers about the benefits of the instruments and the elements of comprehensive national nuclear legislation. In recent years, more than 25 African Member States have benefitted from IAEA bilateral assistance and have either adopted nuclear legislation or continue the legislative process. Discussions during the workshop also highlighted the need for further IAEA assistance to help Member States in assessing existing nuclear legislation.”

The regional workshop was one in a series of events held within the context of the IAEA Legislative Assistance Programme, which includes the Agency’s technical cooperation project, “Establishing and Enhancing National Legal Frameworks (AFRA)”. The programme covers all areas of nuclear law and includes regional, sub-regional and national activities, which help countries to assess, review and develop nuclear legislation and support adherence to and effective implementation of the relevant international legal instruments.

39 IAEA Member States participated in the virtual regional workshop on nuclear law. (Photo: IAEA)

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