The NEA Legal Affairs section supports the Nuclear Law Committee's work to minimise legal impediments to the safe use of nuclear energy, encourage equitable compensation of nuclear damage resulting from an accident and facilitate international trade in nuclear materials and equipment. To this end, it assists NEA member countries and selected non-members to develop, strengthen and harmonise their nuclear legislation on the basis of internationally agreed principles for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and in particular, assists members to implement nuclear safety assistance programmes in non-member countries.
The NEA Nuclear Law Committee (NLC) is currently focusing on resolving problems arising from nuclear operators' inability to obtain adequate financial security for its increased/extended liability exposure arising from damage caused by terrorist acts or other privately uninsurable risks such as environmental impairment. It is also studying the impact on nuclear energy projects of the Aarhus Convention and similar legislative requirements in the field of public involvement in environmental matters.
Modernisation of the international nuclear liability regime
The NEA Legal Affairs section supports the NLC's efforts to improve the international nuclear liability conventions and to encourage broader adherence to those instruments. Those efforts culminated in the adoption, in 2004, of Protocols to amend the 1960 Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy (the "Paris Convention") and the 1963 Convention Supplementary to the Paris Convention (the 'Brussels Supplementary Convention'). The revised Conventions provide for considerably more compensation to be paid to more victims for more types of damage than ever before. Work is underway to implement those Protocols into national legislation, to revise the existing Exposé des Motifs of the Paris Convention and to draft a new Exposé des Motifs for the Brussels Convention.
The NLC is also attempting to find solutions to potential conflicts between international or European Community legislation that might conflict with the international nuclear liability conventions.
The NEA Legal Affairs section organised a second workshop on the indemnification of nuclear damage in Bratislava in May 2005, to assess the adequacy of nuclear damage indemnification measures that would be implemented if a nuclear accident occurred in a Vienna Convention State causing damage to victims in both OECD and non-OECD countries with varying international nuclear liability convention status. Ongoing collaboration with other NEA Committees and Working Groups concerned with nuclear emergency preparedness and response is expected to result in new initiatives in the future.
Nuclear law information and education programme
The NEA Legal Affairs section carries on a continuing programme of collection and analysis of nuclear law information from around the world. That information is then disseminated through its comprehensive publications programme that is available to readers and subscribers in all countries.
The International School of Nuclear Law (ISNL) was established in 2001 by the University of Montpellier 1 and the NEA and benefits from support by the International Nuclear Law Association (INLA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Its objective is to provide a high quality, intensive course of education in international nuclear law to law students at doctoral or masters level and to young professionals in the nuclear sector who wish to develop their knowledge.
Participants study all essential aspects of nuclear law: radiological protection, nuclear safety, radioactive waste management, transport of nuclear materials, physical protection, non-proliferation, regulation of trade and nuclear third party liability and insurance. Further information is available online.
The NEA Legal Affairs section actively participates in the "nuclear law" component of the World Nuclear University Summer Institute (link) as well as in national/regional educational sessions organised by the WNU which focus on key issues in the nuclear energy sector.
Legal support to NEA programmes and projects
The NEA Legal Affairs section provides advisory, negotiating and drafting services to NEA Management and to officials responsible for carrying out NEA programmes and projects, including international joint projects in nuclear safety, radioactive waste and radiological protection.
Last revised: 20 November 2007