International organizations and bodies
International cooperation on nuclear safety takes place via various multilateral organisations and bodies.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was founded in 1957 as an autonomous international organisation. It reports regularly to the United Nations General Assembly and is obliged to contact the United Nations Security Council directly if a threat to international safety has been ascertained.
Germany has been a member of the IAEA since 1957, the year in which it was established, and is permanently represented on its monitoring and governing body, the IAEA Board of Governors.
The IAEA’s focal issues are nuclear energy and nuclear applications, nuclear safety and security, and the monitoring of fissile radioactive material (verification).
The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), based in Paris, is a semi-autonomous organisation within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). At present, 31 countries in Europe, America, Asia and Australia are members of the NEA. The Federal Republic of Germany is a founding member of the OECD and joined the NEA in 1958.
In 1975, the then leading Western industrialised countries established the Group of Seven (G7) to discuss global economic issues. The G7 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Within the G7 framework, the Nuclear Safety and Security Group (NSSG) is a permanent body dealing with nuclear safety issues. The NSSG evolved from the Nuclear Safety Working Group, established in 1992, which mainly dealt with the safety of Eastern European nuclear reactors of Russian design. In addition to the G7 countries, the European Commission, the OECD/NEA, the IAEA and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have observer status. Due to the current political situation in Ukraine, Russia's participation has been suspended.
The International Nuclear Regulators Association (INRA) was established in 1997 and comprises the heads of the national regulatory authorities of countries with the most advanced nuclear technologies (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US). The chair rotates every year. INRA addresses issues of mutual interest and discusses recommendations to strengthen the capacities of nuclear safety authorities worldwide.
Due to the rising levels of ionising radiation in the atmosphere from nuclear weapons testing, the UN General Assembly established the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) in December 1955. Over time, UNSCEAR became the official international authority on the levels and effects of exposure to ionising radiation. Among other things, UNSCEAR investigated the impacts of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011. At present, representatives of 27 countries are involved in UNSCEAR’s work.
Since 1928, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has established a system of protection against ionising radiation that is recognised worldwide. To that end, ICRP drafts recommendations which form the scientific basis for legislation in this area. ICRP is an independent organisation comprising around 200 leading scientists from 30 countries.