NEA press room

Press kit: International nuclear third party liability

As the accident at Chernobyl illustrated, the geographical scope of damage caused by a nuclear accident is not necessarily confined to national boundaries. In the event of a nuclear accident causing damage in more than one country, it is desirable that the protection accorded to victims by a third party liability regime be distributed equitably among affected countries. Although the high safety standards of the nuclear industry mean that the risk of an accident is very low, the possible magnitude of damage from a nuclear accident is such that insurance coverage of liability requires international collaboration between national insurance pools. These considerations were recognised in the early years of the nuclear power industry and inspired States to develop the existing international regimes. Furthermore, there is a significant amount of transboundary transport of nuclear materials. Such international movement is both better regulated and facilitated by being subject to one uniform regime.

There are two basic international regimes for nuclear third party liability in force: the Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy ("the Paris Convention") was established on 29 July 1960 under the auspices of the NEA and covers most West European countries, while the Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage ("the Vienna Convention") was established on 21 May 1963 under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and is worldwide in character. The list of Contracting Parties to the Paris Convention is as follows:

Belgium Greece Slovenia
Denmark Italy Spain
Finland Netherlands Sweden
France Norway Turkey
Germany Portugal United Kingdom

Coverage under the Paris Convention is extended by the Supplementary Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy of 31 January 1963 ("the Brussels Supplementary Convention"). The list of Contracting Parties to the Brussels Supplementary Convention is as follows:

Belgium Germany Slovenia
Denmark Italy Spain
Finland Netherlands Sweden
France Norway United Kingdom

The Paris Convention and the Brussels Supplementary Convention have both been amended three times: by Additional Protocols adopted in 1964, 1982 & 2004. Furthermore, the Paris and Vienna Conventions have been linked by the Joint Protocol Relating to the Application of the Vienna Convention and the Paris Convention of 21 September 1988 ("the Joint Protocol") which entered into force on 27 April 1992. The Paris and the Vienna Conventions are supplemented, in relation to maritime transport, by the Convention Relating to Civil Liability in the Field of Maritime Carriage of Nuclear Material of 17 December 1971 ("the 1971 Brussels Convention").

NEA Nuclear Law programme

Related NEA publications and reports

Nuclear Legislation in OECD Countries Législations nucléaires des pays de l'OCDE
Regulatory and Institutional Framework for Nuclear Activities
Each country profile in this valuable reference work provides a detailed review of a full range of nuclear law topics. These include: the general regulatory regime, including mining; radioactive substances and equipment; nuclear installations; trade in nuclear materials; radiation protection; radioactive waste management; non-proliferation and physical protection; transport; and nuclear third party liability.

Revised Nuclear Third Party Liability Conventions improve victims' rights to compensation Les conventions sur la responsabilité civile nucléaire revissées améliorent les droits des victimes a indemnisation
The signing of the Protocols to amend the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy and the Brussels Convention Supplementary to the Paris Convention will take place on 12 February, at OECD headquarters. The revised Conventions will allow for a considerable increase in the amount of compensation available to victims of a nuclear accident and for the expansion of the scope of application of the Paris Convention. (10 February 2004).

Slovenia joins the Paris Convention on Nuclear Third Party Liability
Slovenia acceded to the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy on 16 October 2001. This was the first time that a non-member country of the OECD has acceded to the Paris Convention and Slovenia’s accession brings the number of Contracting Parties to the Convention to 15.

Indemnification of Damage in the Event of a Nuclear Accident: Workshop Proceedings, Paris, France, 26-28 November 2001 (pdf, 1.7 mb)

Paris Convention on Nuclear Third Party Liability

Brussels Supplementary Convention

Related links

NEA Press kit: Chernobyl

Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage
Convention maintained under the auspices of the IAEA.

Last updated: 9 December 2011