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Strengthening Nuclear Law in Asia and the Pacific: IAEA Legal Workshop in Singapore

Participants at the sub-regional workshop on nuclear law for IAEA Member States of the Asia and Pacific region hosted in Singapore. (Photo: IAEA)

The importance of having an adequate national nuclear legal framework in place, as well as IAEA legislative assistance in establishing and maintaining up-to-date national legislation were among the issues that over 50 legal experts from 19 IAEA Member States discussed during a sub-regional workshop hosted in Singapore recently.

“My delegation gained a lot of knowledge in the legislation requirements, which in turn is to be incorporated in our national nuclear law,” said Chan Sodavath, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Mines and Energy of Cambodia. “It was a very good workshop and the timing was right for us to attend it.”

IAEA legislative assistance has come to play an increasingly important role in assisting Member States to develop and strengthen their national legal frameworks as they seek to benefit from the applications of nuclear technology in electricity production, medicine, industry, agriculture and in many other areas.

Safe, secure and peaceful use needs adequate legislation

The meeting addressed all aspects of nuclear law and the related international instruments in the areas of safety, security, safeguards and civil liability for nuclear damage. Legal experts had an opportunity to gain and exchange insightful information on these instruments, learn about recent developments in these areas, such as the entry into force of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and discuss challenges when incorporating international obligations into national law.

“The Republic of Palau is moving towards the goal of developing a legal framework for radiation safety to protect its people and pristine environment,” said Lydia Ngirablosch, a senior foreign affairs officer in the Ministry of State, adding that “this workshop on nuclear law has given us a legislative roadmap for moving forward that we can use immediately.” For the participants from the Philippines, “the knowledge gained and the sharing of experiences, notwithstanding the varied legislation systems, was very helpful.” 

The workshop, organized by the IAEA in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore and the Centre for International Law of the National University of Singapore, was conducted under the IAEA project “Providing Legislative Assistance on Establishing and Upgrading the Legal Framework for Safe, Secure and Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy” as well as within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Singapore-IAEA Third Country Training Programme signed by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and Singaporean Minister Ms Grace Fu during Mr Amano’s visit to Singapore in January 2015.

The workshop hosted from 13 to 17 June 2016 helped to provide a better understanding and raised awareness about the importance of joining and implementing the legal instruments adopted under IAEA auspices. It highlighted the importance of having comprehensive national legislation in place to ensure the safe, secure and peaceful conduct of activities involving the use of nuclear technology.