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Robust Legal Infrastructure Key to the Use of Nuclear Technologies — Panel Discusses how the IAEA Helps

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Acting Director General Cornel Feruta greets the panel of the 'Legislative Assistance Programme Event: Addressing Member States Needs' at the 63rd General Conference. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

The right legal framework, including the establishment of a nuclear regulator independent from industry and other government bodies, is key to the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technology. At a panel discussion held on the margins of the IAEA’s 63rd General Conference, panelists from five countries recounted how they have strengthened their legal and regulatory control systems and implemented international obligations with the support of legislative assistance from the IAEA.

“The IAEA supports Member States in developing a solid legal foundation for the implementation of nuclear technology applications,” said Acting Director General Cornel Feruta. “In the last ten years the IAEA, under its technical cooperation programme, has helped more than 80 countries to adopt or strengthen their national nuclear laws. Nuclear laws have already been enacted or enhanced in 32 of those States, while many others are in the process of doing so.”

Bolivia passed earlier this year its Law on the Peaceful Applications of Nuclear Technology, prepared with the assistance of the IAEA, said Ronald Veizaga, Director for Nuclear Energy at Bolivia’s Ministry of Energy.

“As a country engaging for the first time in a comprehensive programme for the development of peaceful nuclear applications, compliance with the highest safety standards is very important, ,” he said.

Yousuf Maudarbocus, Chairman of the newly established Radiation Safety and Nuclear Security Board of Mauritius, explained that “the Radiation Safety and Nuclear Security Act of 2018 developed with IAEA assistance allowed us to considerably improve the national regulatory infrastructure by correcting identified gaps relating to security, safeguards and the autonomy of the regulatory authority, among others”.

Serbian Ambassador Roksanda Nincic highlighted that the new Law on Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety enabled the consolidation of the Directorate for Radiation Safety and Nuclear Security as an independent regulatory body and the alignment of the national legal framework with the European Union legislation and Serbia’s international obligations. “We began accession negotiations with the European Union and the new law is a solid basis to join European and global processes for safety and security,” she added.

Niger and the Philippines are countries considering a nuclear power programme and have received corresponding IAEA assistance in revising their legal frameworks.

“Niger updated its nuclear legislation in 2018 to provide for safety, security, safeguards and civil liability for nuclear damage in a comprehensive manner,” said Zeinabou Minaoudou Souley, President of the High Atomic Energy Authority of Niger.

“In the Philippines, the Agency’s assistance has played an essential role in training officials and raising awareness of decision-makers in the country about the importance and requirements of an adequate national legal framework for the regulation of nuclear activities,” said Ambassador Maria Cleofe Rayos Natividad.

The 'Legislative Assistance Programme Event: Addressing Member States Needs' at the IAEA's 63rd General Conference. (Photo: H. Boening/IAEA)

Peri Lynne Johnson, IAEA Legal Adviser and Director of the Office of Legal Affairs, highlighted that awareness-raising among policymakers, training and drafting assistance are all important components of the Agency’s legislative assistance programme. “Activities are tailored to the specific needs of Member State, some of which may be involved in drafting nuclear legislation for the first time, while others may seek to update their framework to global safety and security developments,” she said.

Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the IAEA’s Division for Africa in the Department of Technical Cooperation, underlined the importance of capacity-building to support the development and maintenance of an adequate legal infrastructure. “Under technical cooperation projects, activities like the Nuclear Law Institute held every year in October, regional workshops, national training courses, fellowships and scientific visits help officials in Member States develop their skills in nuclear law and legislative drafting”, he said.

Wrapping up the discussion, Wolfram Tonhauser, Head of the IAEA’s Nuclear and Treaty Law Section, reiterated the IAEA’s commitment to supporting Member States in drafting and adopting nuclear legislation.

“Sharing experiences and knowledge on occasions like this are indeed important elements of the IAEA’s legislative assistance programme as we continue in our efforts to best address the evolving needs of Member States,” he said.

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