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Policy basis

The overall strategic framework of the TC programme is determined by provisions in key documents of the IAEA.

Article II of the IAEA Statute provides the mandate for the IAEA in the peaceful application of nuclear energy. It states:

“The Agency shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity.”

Document INFCIRC/267, ‘The Revised Guiding Principles and General Operating Rules to Govern the Provision of Technical Assistance by the Agency’, issued in 1979, governs the provision of all Agency technical assistance. It includes Guiding Principles related to eligibility to participate in the programme, sources of technical assistance, agreements with Member States, and issues related to human resources and equipment. INFCIRC also contains General Operating Rules. 

Revised Supplementary Agreement (RSA), The RSA is an arrangement for delivering cooperation to Member States. It describes the responsibility of the Government and the Agency. The first RSAs were signed in 1979. Key articles in the RSA deal with the application of safety standards, peaceful use and safeguards, physical protection of facilities and equipment, title to equipment and materials, and settlement of disputes. 

General Conference Resolutions on Strengthening the Agency’s Technical Cooperation Activities: The annual General Conference resolution, ‘Strengthening of the Agency’s technical cooperation activities’, provides guidance for the operation of the programme and its management, and ensures that the programme responds to the current and emerging needs and concerns of Member States.

The IAEA Medium Term Strategy serves as a strategic direction and roadmap for the Secretariat to prepare the Agency’s programme and budget during the period the Strategy covers, by identifying priorities among and within its programmes for three biennia for the achievement of the Agency’s statutory objectives in an evolving international environment. The current Medium Term Strategy covers the period 2018 – 2023. Strategic Objective D, ‘Providing effective technical cooperation’, provides strategic guidance for the technical cooperation programme.

The Technical Cooperation Strategy, drawn up in 1997, guided the IAEA’s technical cooperation activities, and introduced three new tools: Model Projects, Country Programme Frameworks and Thematic Plans. Model Projects were designed to set and maintain standards of quality in project design; Country Programme Frameworks focused on agreed priority national development needs; and Thematic Plans concentrated on identifying and promoting nuclear and isotopic techniques that offered clear cost-benefit advantages in achieving sustainable development. 

In 2002, the Strategy was reviewed, and six main fields for technical cooperation intervention were identified: human health, agricultural productivity and food security, the management of water resources, environmental protection, the physical and chemical applications of radiation and radioisotopes and sustainable energy development. Model Projects evolved into a ‘central criterion’, widely used in the prioritization and selection of projects. Over the years, the Country Programme Framework  also became well established as a programme design and planning tool.

Today, the IAEA’s TC programme provides support in 33 Fields of Activity, clustered into seven areas: health and nutrition, food and agriculture, water and the environment, industrial applications, energy planning and nuclear power, radiation protection and nuclear safety, and nuclear knowledge development and management. 

Strategic direction for the multi-annual TC programme is provided by the IAEA’s Member States and, more specifically the policy making bodies, which comprise the General Conference of all Member States and the 35-member Board of Governors. TC programme activities are guided by Country Programme Frameworks and regional/cooperative agreements, and also take into account national development plans, United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs), regional priorities and, as appropriate, relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The IAEA Gender Equality Policy  aims to further gender equality by including gender considerations in the IAEA’s programmes and activities. Efforts to mainstream gender through the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme are guided by this policy. 

The TC programme is also informed by other relevant strategies and policies, such as regional strategies set by Member States.

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