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Legal basis

The Convention on Assistance in Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency and the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident (Emergency Conventions) are the prime legal instruments that establish an international framework to facilitate the exchange of information and the prompt provision of assistance in the event of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency. They place specific obligations on the Parties and the IAEA, with the aim of minimizing consequences for health, property and the environment. more

Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident

This Convention aims to strengthen international co-operation in order to provide relevant information about nuclear accidents as early as necessary in order that transboundary radiological consequences can be minimized. States Party commit that, in the event of a nuclear accident that may have transboundary radiological consequences, they will notify countries that may be affected and the IAEA, and provide relevant information on the development of the accident The IAEA in turn forthwith informs States Parties, Member States, other States that may be physically affected and relevant international organizations of a notification received and promptly provides other information on request. Each State Party and the Agency have identified 24-hour warning points to which a notification can be directed, as well as competent authorities who are authorized to send notifications and verify information provided. The Agency maintains an up-to-date list of such authorities and warning points and provides it to States Parties, Member States and relevant international organizations. latest status

Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency

This Convention requires that States Parties cooperate between themselves and with the IAEA to facilitate prompt assistance in the event of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency to minimize its consequences and to protect life, property and the environment from the effects of radioactive releases. The IAEA is charged with using its best endeavours to promote, facilitate and support the cooperation between the States Parties. In the event of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency, the IAEA’s functions are to: make available to a State Party or a Member State requesting assistance appropriate resources for the purpose of conducting an initial assessment of the accident; transmit requests for assistance and relevant information to States Parties that may possess the necessary resources; offer its good offices to the States Parties or Member States; liaise with relevant international organizations to obtain and exchange relevant information; and, on request, co-ordinate the assistance at the international level that becomes available. Each State Party and the Agency have identified 24-hour warning points to which a request for assistance can be directed, as well as Competent Authorities who are authorized to send requests and to arrange for the provision of assistance. The Agency maintains an up-to-date list of such authorities and warning points and provides it to States Parties, Member States and relevant international organizations. latest status

Requirements No. GS-R-2

Under the terms of Article III of its Statute, the IAEA is authorized to establish standards of safety for protection of health, life and property against ionizing radiation. The IAEA’s safety standards are not legally binding on Member States but may be adopted by them, at their own discretion, for use in national regulations. They are binding on the IAEA in relation to its own operations and on States in relation to operations assisted by the IAEA. In 2002 the IAEA Board of Governors approved the document “Preparedness and Response for a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency” to be published as Requirements in the IAEA Safety Standards series (No. GS-R-2). This publication is co-sponsored by FAO, IAEA, ILO, OECD/NEA, PAHO, OCHA and the WHO. Compliance with these requirements will make for greater consistency between the emergency response criteria and arrangements of different States and thereby facilitate the emergency response at the regional and international level. The IAEA General Conference in resolution GC(46)/RES/9 has encouraged Member States to implement the Safety Requirements.

With respect to the international response system, GS-R-2 establishes requirements for international notification and information exchange in the case of a ‘transnational emergency’, i.e. a nuclear or radiological emergency of actual, potential or perceived radiological significance for more than one State. This includes:

  • A significant transboundary release of radioactive material
  • A ‘general emergency’ at a facility or other events that could result in a transboundary release of radioactive material
  • Discovery of the loss or illicit removal of a dangerous source that has been transported across or is suspected of having been transported across a national border
  • An emergency resulting in significant disruption to international trade or travel
  • An emergency warranting the taking of protective actions for foreign nationals or embassies in the State in which it occurs
  • An emergency resulting in or potentially resulting in severe deterministic effects and involving a fault and/or problem (such as in equipment or software) that could have serious implications for safety internationally
  • An emergency resulting in or potentially resulting in great concern among the population of more than one State owing to the actual or perceived radiological hazard

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| Last update: Thursday, June 20, 2013.