International organizations in the field of nuclear energy


December 2013

The announcement of the "Atoms for Peace" programme by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the United Nations General Assembly on 8 December 1953 and the First Atomic Energy Conference in Geneva in 1955 aroused great expectations worldwide for this new form of energy, but were also accompanied by an awareness of the extraordinary dangers associated with nuclear fission. In the same decade, three international institutions were founded to promote the widespread use of nuclear energy, but also to prevent its misuse and avoid damage caused by radioactivity: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the OECD, are concerned with the overall use of nuclear energy.

There are also a number of specialist organisations that focus on reactor and plant safety or radiation protection.

While each country decides autonomously on the use or non-use of nuclear energy, the aim of international cooperation has always been to share knowledge and experience and to achieve the greatest possible harmonisation of applicable standards and safety requirements. The awareness that radioactivity does not stop at national borders and that public opinion is also influenced by incidents in distant countries, as the reactor accidents in Harrisburg (USA), Chernobyl (former Soviet Union) and Fukushima (Japan) have shown, has further increased the intensity of international cooperation.

  • Autonomous technical and scientific organisation with special status within the United Nations system with its own membership
  • founded on 29 July 1957 with headquarters in Vienna
  • 159 states are members of the IAEA (as of 12/2013), including Germany since 1957
  • Bodies: Secretary General, Board of Governors, General Assembly
  • Objective: "Atoms for Peace", i.e. promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy, preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons
  • The IAEA reports to the annual UN General Assembly and, in the event of violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to the UN Security Council
  • An independent international organisation alongside the EU, but shares all of its bodies, in particular the Commission, the Council, the European Parliament and the Court of Justice. Euratom's executive activities are integrated into the European Commission's Directorates-General. The Council decides on legislation in the areas assigned to Euratom. The European Parliament has only an advisory role within Euratom and no codecision. In the Council, Euratom matters are dealt with in the "Atomic Question Group" working group and pre-structured for the Council decision.
  • Established on 25 March 1957 by the Treaty of Rome between France, Italy, the Benelux countries and the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Members: All EU member states
  • In contrast to the IAEA and OECD, Euratom is an association of states with original competences laid down in the founding treaty of 1957 and has the competence to issue regulations and directives in certain areas, to address binding decisions to member states and, if necessary, to take enforcement and sanction measures.
  • Relations between Germany and Euratom are coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Economics.
  • Objective: "The task of the Atomic Energy Community shall be to contribute to raising the standard of living in the Member States and to developing relations with other countries by creating the conditions necessary for the rapid establishment and development of nuclear industries." (Euratom Treaty, Article 1)
  • Special agency within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international organisation of industrialised countries
  • Founded in February 1958 as the "European Nuclear Energy Agency (ENEA)", based in Paris. Renamed OECD Nuclear Energy Agency in 1972.
  • Its members are 31 industrialised countries in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region, and recently also Russia. These countries account for around 90 % of the world's installed nuclear power plant capacity.
  • The Federal Republic of Germany is a founding member. Relations with the NEA are coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Economics.
  • Bodies: Director General, Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy
  • Objective: To support the member countries in maintaining and further developing the scientific, technological and legal basis for the safe, environmentally friendly and economic utilisation of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Development of a common understanding of key issues as input for government decisions.
  • The bodies of the NEA report to the Council of the OECD.
  • European Commission Advisory Group on the Safety of Nuclear Installations and the Safe Management of Spent Fuel
  • Established in 2007 by decision of the Council of the EU
  • The ENSREG secretariat is provided by the European Commission.
  • Members are high-ranking representatives of the supervisory authorities of the Member States and the Commission
  • The German representatives are appointed by the BMU.
  • Objective: ENSREG "advises and assists the Commission ... in the progressive development of a common understanding and eventually of complementary European regulations in the fields of a) safety of nuclear installations and b) safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste" (from the decision of 27 July 2007).
  • Advisory body of the regulatory authorities of the nuclear energy operating EU member states and Switzerland
  • founded in 1999
  • Members are the heads of the licensing and supervisory authorities of 16 EU states and Switzerland; representatives of nine other states (which do not operate nuclear energy) have observer status
  • Germany is represented by the Head of the Reactor Safety Department at the Federal Ministry for the Environment. The Gesellschaft für Anlagen- und Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) provides technical input for WENRA.
  • The aim is to promote and further develop the safety of nuclear facilities in the EU. One focus here is the harmonisation of national nuclear regulations in order to ensure a consistently high level of European safety.
  • Independent association of nuclear power plant operators worldwide as a result of the Chernobyl accident
  • Founded in May 1989; regional centres in Atlanta, Moscow, Paris and Tokyo, coordination centre in London
  • Its members are all the world's nuclear power plant operators.
  • The governing bodies are the Chairman, the Managing Director, the Biennial General Meeting
  • The aim is to ensure and continuously improve the responsible, safe operation of nuclear power plants worldwide.
  • Scientific Committee established by the UN General Assembly and funded by the UN
  • Founded in 1955; headquarters originally in New York, since 1974 in Vienna
  • Members are experts appointed by initially 15 and now 27 states selected by the UN General Assembly.
  • Germany has been involved since 1973. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection appoints the German delegation.
  • UNSCEAR meets once a year. The Secretary appointed by the UN Secretary-General, who is supported by a scientific secretariat, coordinates the ongoing work. Administratively, UNSCEAR is closely linked to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • UNSCEAR reports to the UN General Assembly, which also decides on its work programmes. In terms of content, UNSCEAR is independent.
  • Objective: UNSCEAR records the global levels of ionising radiation and their effects. UNSCEAR provides the scientific basis for radiation protection. Its reports are an important input for other international organisations (IAEA; ICRP; World Health Organisation WHO).
  • Independent international non-profit, non-governmental organisation of scientific and political experts in the field of radiation protection, funded by ongoing grants from organisations with an interest in radiation protection
  • Founded in 1928; head office in Ottawa, Canada
  • over 200 personal members from 31 nations
  • German contacts are the Federal Office for Radiation Protection and the Helmholtz Centre Munich.
  • The bodies are the Main Commission, the Commissions for Radiation Effects, for Dosimetry of Radiation Exposures, for Radiation Protection in Medicine, for the Implementation of ICRP Recommendations and for Environmental Protection as well as the Scientific Secretariat.
  • The work of the ICRP aims to implement scientific findings in radiation protection for the benefit of public health and the environment through reports and recommendations.
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