The IAEA Office of Legal Affairs concluded the first Webinar Series on Nuclear Law. Launched in October 2020, nine webinars comprised the series that was divided into three parts. The series covered the four main branches of international and national nuclear law: nuclear safety, security, safeguards and civil liability for nuclear damage. Devised as an online alternative to some of the Office of Legal Affairs’ training activities, the interactive Webinar Series amassed over 2500 streams, with participation from officials with policy, legal, regulatory and technical backgrounds from over 100 countries.
“As Director General Grossi has previously stated, despite the challenges in 2020, the IAEA did not stop for one minute. In the Office of Legal Affairs, we are committed to finding ways to continue supporting our Member States in the area of legislative assistance, during the current period when physical events are not possible to organize. This successful Webinar Series provided a valuable opportunity to engage with and address the ongoing needs of our Member States in nuclear law,” said Peri Lynne Johnson, IAEA Legal Adviser and Director of the IAEA Office of Legal Affairs.
The Webinar Series was particularly beneficial to officials from countries in the process of strengthening their existing national nuclear legislative framework in identifying the definition and objective, as well as the main branches of national and international nuclear law. “Many officials from Myanmar participated in this Webinar Series,” said Tin Tin Nyo of Myanmar’s Department of Atomic Energy, Ministry of Science and Technology. “Since we had to postpone the planned legislative meeting with the IAEA, the series provided a forum for several stakeholders to raise their awareness on the subject of nuclear law. We hope to continue to engage with the IAEA Office of Legal Affairs, either in person or virtually, in our efforts to develop a revised draft nuclear law.”
The series was implemented within the IAEA legislative assistance programme. It targeted countries that are not party to some or all of the relevant international legal instruments adopted by or under the auspices of the Agency and/or are in the process of strengthening their existing national nuclear legislative framework. Countries participating in the IAEA technical cooperation programme had the opportunity to understand the principles, objectives and scope of application of treaties, as well as recognize the benefits of becoming party to the relevant treaties.
While the US has a well-established legislative and regulatory framework, several officials also participated in the series. “I chose to participate in the series to further my understanding of how the IAEA approaches assisting recipient countries on nuclear law. I was particularly interested to hear the IAEA’s view on the role of the 1997 Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, said Jody Martin of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The Office of Legal Affairs organizes an annual two-week intensive training course on nuclear law, the Nuclear Law Institute (NLI), open to 60 candidates, primarily lawyers from IAEA Member States. The NLI is usually held in Austria but was postponed to 2021. The Webinar Series provided an alternative training opportunity. “I was looking forward to participating in the Nuclear Law Institute as I am helping to draft the national nuclear law,” said Sâabèsèlè Jean Augustin Somda from the Ministry of the Environment of Burkina Faso. “Although the webinars on comprehensive national law were useful, I am looking forward to being able to participate in the NLI in 2021.”
Given the success of this Webinar Series and in response to expressed interest from industry, law firms, NGOs, civil society and academia, the IAEA Office of Legal Affairs hosted a webinar for the general public, Nuclear Law in Practice: the IAEA Perspective, on 15 December 2020.