The NEA recently concluded the 2023 edition of the International School of Nuclear Law (ISNL), held from 21 August to 1 September 2023 at the University of Montpellier, in the south of France. The 22nd edition of the programme gathered 60 graduate students and professionals from across the world who came together to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the legal framework and major topics related to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
The ISNL, which was established in 2001 by the NEA in co-operation with the University of Montpellier, is a unique educational programme offering participants from the academic, private and governmental sectors an in-depth look at international nuclear law. This year’s session was attended by participants from 37 countries, including many from beyond the NEA membership. To date, the ISNL has provided a unique educational opportunity to more than 1200 graduate students and professionals from more than 100 different countries.
During his opening remarks, NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV emphasised the importance of specialised training for lawyers working in the nuclear field, especially at a time when many countries are extending, advancing or introducing nuclear power programmes. “Very few lawyers currently working in nuclear law came out of the university knowing they were going to work in the nuclear field,” said Director-General Magwood. “They went into an organisation where they had to apply their legal skills to nuclear activities. I think many would have liked to get formal training in advance. The reality, however, is that there aren’t many trainings like this. And that is why the International School of Nuclear Law so important.”
During the two weeks spent in Montpellier, the ISNL delivered a rigorous educational programme consisting of lectures, group assignments and panel discussions touching on all aspects of international nuclear law, including nuclear safety, management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, environmental protection, transport, nuclear security, non-proliferation, safeguards, nuclear liability, and international trade. The programme was delivered by nearly 30 different lecturers who are renowned specialists in nuclear law from international organisations, governments, academia and private industry. Included among this year’s group of lecturers were Stephen G. Burns, former Chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Łukasz Młynarkiewicz, former President of the National Atomic Energy Agency of Poland; Lisa Thiele, Vice-President, Legal and Commission Affairs & Senior General Counsel of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC); Obaid Almutawah, General Counsel of Nawah Energy Company (United Arab Emirates); Peri Lynne Johnson, Legal Adviser and Director of the Office of Legal Affairs at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); and Verity Robson, Chief of Legal Services at the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).
In addition to the social programme, this year’s ISNL included a trip to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) site, supported by Fusion for Energy, where participants and lecturers had the opportunity to visit the construction site of the world’s largest fusion research facility as well as learn about fusion technology concepts and possible legal frameworks for fusion technologies.
While the programme itself has concluded, many participants are continuing their studies by completing a multiple choice test and writing dissertations on a topic relevant to international nuclear law in order to apply for the University Diploma (Diplôme d'université – D.U.) in International Nuclear Law from the University of Montpellier.
The applications for the 2024 ISNL session, which will take place from 26 August – 6 September, will open in January 2024.
The NEA awards grants to a select number of students from its member countries qualified to participate in this programme. A limited number of professionals can also receive financial support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).