On 4 April 2011, the 72 countries that are "Contracting Parties" to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), which meet every three years to consider the CNS' implementation, gathered at the IAEA's headquarters in Vienna for their fifth Review Meeting.
The ten-day Conference, convening from 4 to 14 April 2011, discusses the country reports on nuclear safety that every Contracting Party is obliged to submit. All countries with operating nuclear power plants are among the CNS' Contracting Parties.
Both IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and Review Meeting President Li Ganjie of the Chinese National Nuclear Safety Administration addressed the opening session of the meeting.
In his opening remarks, Director General Amano noted that the Conference will discuss issues relating to safety management and safety culture, international cooperation and networking on emergency management, as well as considering additional topics arising from the Fukushima accident.
While the immediate priority is to overcome the crisis and stabilize the reactors, Director General Amano called upon the Review Meeting and the IAEA to begin the process of reflection and evaluation, since "the worries of millions of people throughout the world about whether nuclear energy is safe must be taken seriously." He stated that "Rigorous adherence to the most robust international safety standards and full transparency, in good times and bad, are vital for restoring and maintaining public confidence in nuclear power."
The Convention, which entered into force on 24 October 1996, was designed to enhance nuclear safety. Its objectives are to achieve and maintain a high level of nuclear safety worldwide, to establish and maintain effective defenses in nuclear installations against potential radiological hazards, and to prevent accidents having radiological consequences.
The Convention on Nuclear Safety is an incentive instrument. It does not compel Parties to adhere to certain safety standards, but is, instead, based on their common interest to achieve higher levels of safety.
The IAEA is the depository for the Convention and its role is to provide the secretariat for the Review Meetings by convening, preparing and servicing these meetings, as well as transmitting relevant information to the Contracting Parties.