IAEA bolsters support for nuclear law education

05 May 2022

Six countries have entered into a partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to increase education and professional development opportunities for students and aspiring professionals in international and national nuclear law. IAEA-supported programmes on nuclear law will be held at universities in Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Jamaica, South Africa and the UAE.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi speaking at the agency's First International Conference on Nuclear Law (Image: Dean Calma / IAEA)

The partnerships will help build awareness on nuclear law as a prerequisite for the safe, secure and peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology among operators, regulators, lawyers, engineers and policy makers; and to build teaching capacity in the field.

Within this pilot cooperative framework, the IAEA will work with each institution to develop a series of courses and smaller modules focused on the four traditional branches of nuclear law - safety, security, safeguards and liability - to complement existing national or regional training activities in this field.

The courses will be open to students from diverse academic backgrounds, including law, engineering, policy and communications; smaller modules will be integrated into existing courses such as law, nuclear science and engineering. Upon successful completion of the academic requirements and an internship at a national regulatory body, operator or relevant organisations, the students will receive a postgraduate certificate in nuclear law.

The initiative will be implemented within the framework of the IAEA Legislative Assistance Programme, which is supported by the Technical Cooperation Programme. Through the Legislative Assistance Programme, the IAEA supports governments in adhering to and implementing international legal instruments in the nuclear field and in developing corresponding national legal frameworks.

"When it comes to nuclear law there are too few opportunities for lawyers or engineering students to get exposed to something so essential for the nuclear field: the legal framework that is underlying all the activities," said Imraan Valodia, Pro Vice-Chancellor of South Africa's University of Witwatersrand. "We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the IAEA to help our students and our faculty acquire additional resources in nuclear law education."

"In nuclear law, the way people are introduced to the subject - whether they are introduced at all - will determine its future shape," said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi at the signing ceremony, which took place last week during the IAEA's First International Conference on Nuclear Law: The Global Debate. "And in consequence, it will influence how the atom benefits future generations."

Held on 25-29 April in Vienna, the conference provided a unique forum for leading global experts from governments, international and non-governmental organisations, industry, academia and civil society to share experiences and discuss topical issues with a view to developing further the various areas of nuclear law and promoting international expertise in this field.

Speaking at the opening of the event, Grossi noted: "In many areas of law and international law, we have an underlying system which is, if not static, more permanent ... what is unique about nuclear law and nuclear activities is that this is not only about behaviour and abiding by very important concepts and principles of law, but also driven by technological development."

He said this makes nuclear energy a "force for greater good" but at the same time presents problems and challenges that must be addressed. "We have to see how better to make sure this tremendous force for good will never be misused."

Grossi said the IAEA is launching a nuclear law fellowship, which will be embedded in its Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme and in parallel with it "so we have more nuclear lawyers, nuclear specialists, joining in this activity."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News