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International conventions

The international community has adopted various multilateral conventions (multiparty treaties) in the field of nuclear safety in order to strengthen cooperation and set minimum standards. These conventions regulate areas such as nuclear safety, safety standards in spent fuel and radioactive waste management, safe international transport of nuclear material, early notification and mutual assistance in the event of nuclear accidents, and transboundary nuclear liability.

The role of the international organisations

International organisations act as depositaries for these conventions. The depositary’s task is generally to ensure that all the legal formalities relating to a convention, such as the acceptance and safekeeping of the instruments of ratification and/or accession declarations, are properly and impartially executed.

How international conventions enter into force

International conventions generally enter into force once the requisite number of parties specified in the convention have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession declarations. In international law, ratification is defined as the act whereby a state, through the exchange and deposit of instruments, indicates its consent to be bound by a treaty (Articles 11 and 14 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, signed on 23 May 1969: Federal Law Gazette [Bundesgesetzblatt] 1985 II, 926). Ratification, as distinct from the signing of a treaty, is performed by the institution responsible for the state’s external representation; in Germany’s case, this is the Federal President.

Relevant conventions transposed into German law

Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy 1960/1982 (in force since 1 April 1968/7 October 1988); Joint Protocol 1988 (in force for Germany since 27 April 1992); Brussels Supplementary Convention 1963/1982 (in force for Germany since 4 December 1974/1 August 1991), sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Agency, an intergovernmental agency within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to Paris Convention