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The IAEA’s Nuclear Law Institute: a Decade of Capacity Building and Development in Nuclear Law


Around 35 pieces of legislation drafted by officials trained by the IAEA’s Nuclear Law Institute (NLI) have been adopted in the past decade in countries around the world, contributing to the safe and secure use of nuclear technology.

The IAEA established NLI in 2011 as the first global training programme on nuclear law focused on supporting countries in drafting their legislation regulating the peaceful use of nuclear technology. By providing the framework for conducting these activities in a manner that adequately protects people and the environment, nuclear laws enable countries to fully benefit from nuclear applications and to implement their international obligations for the safe, secure and peaceful use of this technology. Since its inception, around 600 officials from 125 countries have been trained in the development of national nuclear legislation.

“In helping officials develop the skills needed to draft nuclear legislation, the NLI has made a major contribution to making nuclear technology available to improve living standards, thus contributing to the achievement of national development goals,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi at a virtual event held today to mark the NLI anniversary.

NLI alumni from various regions appreciated the impact that the programme has had in their countries. “Thanks to our participation in the NLI, we could gain the knowledge needed for drafting Jamaica’s Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act, for the benefit of priority development projects involving nuclear applications,” said Erica Boswell Munroe, former Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel, who participated in the first session of the programme.

For H.L. Anil Ranjith, Director General of Sri Lanka’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Council, “the NLI was particularly relevant for our regulatory officers and other stakeholders towards adopting the 2014 atomic energy act,” while Fulufhelo Ndou, Legal Counsel of South Africa’s National Nuclear Regulator considers that “the training has helped to improve the capabilities of our legal officers to provide high-quality legal support to the regulatory body.”

Using new teaching methods based on interaction and practice, the NLI, which offers two-week intensive training, provides participants with a solid understanding of all aspects of nuclear law, including nuclear safety, security, safeguards and civil liability for nuclear damage.

“The NLI is a unique platform where lawyers from all over the world learn about the specificities of nuclear law and how to face the challenges associated with legislative drafting in a highly technical field,” said Peri Lynne Johnson, Legal Adviser and Director of the IAEA Office of Legal Affairs.

Human resource development and capacity building through courses like the NLI are at the core of IAEA’s technical cooperation programme. “The implementation of nuclear applications requires a sound safety infrastructure and national governments need qualified human resources and expertise to elaborate the necessary laws and regulations,” said IAEA Deputy Director General Dazhu Yang, Head of the Technical Cooperation Department, at the event.

The programme has also contributed to increasing awareness on the importance of adequate national nuclear legal frameworks and the related international instruments among decision makers. “During the last ten years, the NLI has played an important role in promoting awareness on the special features and legal requirements for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” said Ambassador Hamad Alkaabi, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates and a regular lecturer at the NLI.

Created to address the increasing demand of legislative assistance from IAEA Member States, the NLI has in the meantime also become a global reference for training programmes in nuclear law, Johnson said.

The next session of the NLI is scheduled to take place in October 2021.

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