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Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage

The Vienna Convention on Civil Liability aims at harmonizing the national law of the Contracting Parties by establishing some minimum standards to provide financial protection against damage resulting from certain peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The Convention is designed to ensure that all Contracting Parties have laws and regulations in place conforming to the legal regime for civil liability for nuclear damage provided for in the Convention. The legal regime provided for in the Convention is based on the following general principles:

  • exclusive liability of the operator of the nuclear installation concerned;
  • "absolute" or "strict" liability, so that the injured party is not required to prove fault or negligence on the part of the operator;
  • minimum amount of liability;
  • obligation for the operator to cover liability through insurance or other financial security;
  • limitation of liability in time;
  • equal treatment of victims, irrespective of nationality, domicile or residence, provided that damage is suffered within the geographical scope of the Convention;
  • exclusive jurisdictional competence of the courts of the Contracting Party in whose territory the incident occurs or, in case of an incident outside the territories of Contracting Parties (in the course of transport of nuclear material), of the Contracting Party in whose territory the liable operator’s installation is situated);
  • recognition and enforcement of final judgements rendered by the competent court in all Contracting Parties.

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Latest statusDeclarations/Reservations

Date of adoption: 21 May 1963
Place of adoption: Vienna, Austria
Date of entry into force: 12 November 1977
Authentic Languages: English, French, Russian and Spanish
Depositary: Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Protocol to Amend the Vienna Convention

The Protocol aims at amending the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage in order to provide for broader scope, increased amount of liability of the operator of a nuclear installation and enhanced means for securing adequate and equitable compensation. As between the Parties to the Protocol, the Vienna Convention and the Protocol are to be read and applied together as a single text and may be referred to as the "1997 Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage". As requested by the Protocol, the IAEA Secretariat has established the consolidated text of the Vienna Convention as amended by the Protocol.

All States, irrespective of whether or not they are Contracting Parties to the Vienna Convention, can consent to be bound by the Protocol. A State which is a Party to the Protocol but not a Party to the Vienna Convention shall be bound by the provisions of that Convention as amended by the Protocol in relation to other Contracting Parties to the Protocol. In addition, failing an expression of a different opinion at the time of deposit of an instrument expressing its consent to be bound, a State which is a Party to the Protocol but not a Party to the Vienna Convention shall also be bound by the provisions of the 1963 Vienna Convention in relation to States which are only Parties thereto.

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Latest statusDeclarations/Reservations

Date of adoption: 12 September 1997
Place of adoption: Vienna, Austria
Date of entry into force: 4 October 2003
Authentic Languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish
Depositary: Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Optional Protocol Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes to the Vienna Convention

Alongside the Vienna Convention, the 1963 International Conference also adopted an Optional Protocol concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes. The Optional Protocol provides for the compulsory resolution of disputes arising out of the interpretation or application of the Vienna Convention by the International Court of Justice or, if the parties to the dispute agree, by arbitration or conciliation. The Optional Protocol is open to all States which may become Parties to the Vienna Convention.

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Latest status

Date of adoption: 21 May 1963
Place of adoption: Vienna, Austria
Date of entry into force: 13 May 1999
Authentic Languages: English, French, Russian, Spanish
Depositary: Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

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