Views from the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security

Jul 08 2013
VERTIC Blog >> National Implementation Measures

Sonia Drobysz, London

During 1-5 July, VERTIC Senior Legal Officer Scott Spence and Legal Officer Sonia Drobysz attended the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security. Symposia on nuclear security had previously been convened at the Agency’s headquarters, but it was the first time that a conference on this subject was held at ministerial level. As noted by the conference President, Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister János Martonyi, in his concluding summary, this clearly shows ‘recognition of the fact that, while activities relating to nuclear security are the responsibility of individual States, there are regional and global interests in nuclear security matters which could be greatly enhanced through collective actions and international cooperation.’

As explained on the conference website, the objective of the event was ‘to review the international community’s experience and achievements to date in strengthening nuclear security, to enhance understanding of current approaches to nuclear security worldwide and identify trends, and to provide a global forum for ministers, policymakers and senior officials to formulate views on the future directions and priorities for nuclear security.’ State representatives, including government ministers, senior officials and policy makers responsible for nuclear security, as well as experts from regulatory bodies, international governmental and non-governmental organizations gathered to discuss illicit trafficking, physical protection, cyber security, nuclear forensics, nuclear security culture and capacity building.
During the ministerial sessions, main substantive sessions and technical sessions, many delegates and experts also addressed the importance of strengthening the international nuclear security legal framework. In his opening statement to the conference, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano stated that bringing the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) 2005 into force was one of the three key areas in which ‘progress could – and should – be made quickly to improve global nuclear security.’ The ministerial declaration adopted by consensus during the plenary session on 1 July also invites ‘States that have not yet done so to become party to and fully implement the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and its 2005 Amendment and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) and […] encourage[s] the IAEA and States to continue efforts to promote the entry into force of the 2005 Amendment to the CPPNM at the earliest possible date.’ The declaration further invites ‘States that have not yet done so to make a political commitment to implement the non-legally-binding Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and supplementary Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources.’
But the discussions showed that not only should international legal instruments be adopted and universalized; their effective implementation at the national level is also crucial to prevent, detect and respond to nuclear security threats. States legislation should especially include definitions of key terms, criminalization of certain malicious acts, as well as measures for national enforcement and international cooperation.
In that respect, many States described in their statements to the ministerial session their efforts to enact legislation on nuclear security. The ministerial declaration encourages ‘the IAEA, in consultation with Member States, to consider ways of further promoting the exchange, on a voluntary basis, of information on the implementation of the legal instruments relevant to nuclear security.’ One main session specifically focused on ‘Implementing and Enhancing the International Nuclear Security framework’, highlighting the important role that international governmental organisations, such as the IAEA and UNODC, but also non-governmental organizations can play in assisting States to ratify and implement relevant international legal instruments. During the main session on addressing the illicit trafficking threat, panellists further recommended the provision of assistance to States for the harmonization of international law and guidance in an integrated national legislative and regulatory system, implicitly suggesting that there may not currently be a model for doing so.
Some States raised the difficulties of having coherent and comprehensive national legislation to address all of the obligations and provisions ‘scattered in different international legal instruments on nuclear security’, as Indonesia explained in its statement. Indonesia therefore reminded the participants of its initiative announced at the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit to develop, with VERTIC’s assistance, a single ‘National Legislation Implementation Kit on nuclear security’ to ‘serve as a one-stop illustrative comprehensive legal framework’ integrating the various relevant international provisions on nuclear security. The Kit will be offered as a ‘gift’ to the next Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague next year.
In the run-up to the adoption of the 2014-2017 IAEA nuclear security plan and the Nuclear Security Summits that will take place in the Netherlands in 2014, as well as in the United States in 2016 as announced by President Obama in his Berlin speech on 19 June, coordination and collaboration between the different actors in that domain should be further discussed and promoted. In that respect, the conference President’s summary rightly notes that the IAEA, which has a central role to play, ‘should strengthen its collaboration with other international initiatives and organizations to optimize resources, prevent duplication of effort and harmonize approaches to achieving effective nuclear security.’



Last changed: Jul 08 2013 at 3:54 PM