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Remarks by Board Chair at Memorial Ceremony for Director General Yukiya Amano

Vienna, Austria
Board Chair

When the IAEA Board of Governors appointed Ambassador Yukiya Amano as the fifth Director General of the Agency in 2009, he was already a skilful and widely respected diplomat, with many years of experience in disarmament and non-proliferation.

At that time and as a candidate for the position of Director General, Mr Amano had promised to provide strong and effective management, to insist that all safeguards agreements between the Agency and its Member States should be implemented fully, and to strengthen the delivery of technical cooperation.

In nearly 10 years in office, he delivered substantial and concrete achievements in all of these areas.

Right from the start, Director General Amano showed strong leadership and demonstrated total commitment to fulfilling the objectives of the IAEA.

As Chair of the Board of Governors, I greatly valued his wisdom and advice. He respected the prerogatives of Member States, but firmly defended  the independence of Agency staff in fulfilling their mandate.

Having been Chair of the Board himself in 2005, he fully understood the challenges of the position and was generous in sharing his experience. His deep understanding of technical matters and political sensitivities was of great value to me in the fulfilment of my duties.

At the special Board meeting last month, Member States were united in paying tribute to his great diplomatic skill, his professionalism, his determination to deliver the best possible service to Member States – and his personal warmth and charm.

Mr Amano worked tirelessly to enhance the services offered by the Agency in all areas of its work.

In safeguards, the number of countries with additional protocols in force grew from 94 to 134 during his term of office.

Director General Amano made a vital contribution during the negotiations that led to the adoption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of  Action.

He firmly believed that the benefits of nuclear power should not  be limited to developed countries. He worked hard to ensure that peaceful nuclear science and technology were made available for the benefit of developing countries in human and animal health, food and agriculture, industry, water management and many other   areas.

He had a strong personal commitment to improving cancer control in developing countries, which helped to save lives. Until shortly before his death, Mr Amano was working with his staff on the upcoming Scientific Forum, which will focus on the IAEA’s contribution to cancer control during the last 10 years.

The new laboratories at Seibersdorf, which he energetically promoted,  will form a major part of his legacy.

Director General Amano changed the motto of the Agency to Atoms for Peace and Development to better reflect the contribution of the IAEA in assisting countries in the peaceful use of nuclear technology for their development. This motto will always remind us of him.

He was keen to see the Agency’s activities on the ground for himself and to fully understand the needs of Member States. He visited as many as 20 or 30 countries every year. My own country, Jordan, was one of many which he visited more than once. My authorities greatly appreciated his personal interest in helping Jordan to make more use of nuclear science and technology for the benefit of our people.

Director General Amano attached great importance to the Agency’s role in assisting Member States in improving nuclear safety and security.

After the Fukushima Daiichi accident, he led the international effort to provide assistance to Japan and actively encouraged Member States to learn the essential lessons from the accident. Mr Amano was an active proponent of the strengthening of nuclear safety standards throughout the world.

In nuclear security, his efforts contributed greatly to the entry into force of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. During his term of office, the International Conference on Nuclear Security became recognized as the leading forum for Ministers and other high- level representatives of IAEA Member States to consider this topic.

Member States appreciated Mr Amano’s skilful handling of the IAEA budget and his understanding of the financial constraints many of them faced. He worked hard to ensure that more women were appointed to senior positions in the Agency and made visible progress on improving gender balance.

Mrs Amano, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we mourn with profound sadness the untimely loss of a superb international civil servant and a kind and decent man.

I express my deepest sympathy to you, Mrs Amano. I sincerely hope you will have a chance to read or view the statements made by Member States in tribute to your husband in the Board last month. We heard over 90 beautifully written statements that show not just an appreciation for his admirable professionalism, but a genuine affection for him personally – including his lack of pomposity, the twinkle in his eye, and his cheeky sense of humour.

I also offer my condolences to Mr Amano’s extended family and to IAEA staff.

His remarkable legacy will continue to inspire IAEA Member States and Agency staff as we all work together to implement our Atoms for Peace and Development mandate in the years to  come.

Director General Yukiya Amano had a great impact in the world. We are grateful for his commitment and dedication to improving the well-being of humankind. Mr Amano was an outstanding professional and an exceptional human being. We miss him.

May his soul rest in peace. Thank you.


Last update: 25 Nov 2019

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