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General conference on IAEA activities: An overview

By Shahzadi Tooba Hussain Syed

The General Conference consists of all Member States and holds regular sessions annually usually within the month of September, set by the General Conference at its previous regular annual session. The resolutions and decisions adopted by the General Conference guide the implementation of IAEA activities by its Member States and the Secretariat for the coming year.

The provisional agenda for all regular sessions of the General Conference draw up by the Director General in consultation with the Board of Governors and sent to all Members of the Agency and to all organizations to which notification of the session has to be sent, not later than ninety days in advance of the session. The contents of each regular session include:

(a) All items the inclusion of which has been decided by the General Conference at a previous session;

(b) All items proposed by the Board of Governors;

(c) All items proposed by any Member of the Agency;

(d) All resolutions and all agenda items which the United Nations has referred or proposed to the Agency and which the Board of Governors submits to the General Conference, in accordance with the agreement establishing the relationship between the Agency and the United Nations;

(e) Any item proposed by a specialized agency in accordance with the agreement establishing the relationship between the Agency and that specialized agency;

(f) Election of Members to membership of the Board of Governors;

(g) The annual report of the Board of Governors and such other reports as the Board of Governors may submit to the General Conference;

(h)The budget of the Agency for the ensuing financial year and all items pertaining to this budget;

(i) A report by the Board of Governors on the audited accounts of the Agency for the preceding financial year;

(j) Any report to be submitted to the United Nations requiring approval by the General Conference;

(k) The opening date of the next regular session of the General Conference;

(l) All items which the Director General, in agreement with the Board of Governors, deems necessary to put before the General Conference; and

(m) Other items required by the Statute of the Agency.

In its 59th General Conference, last year, the IAEA General Conference adopted resolutions further strengthening the IAEA’s work in the areas of nuclear science and technology, safety, security, safeguards and technical cooperation. Delegates also approved the IAEA’s budget for 2016-2017.

They additionally adopted a resolution on nuclear security which, among others, calls on the IAEA to continue to implement the Nuclear Security Plan 2014-2017.

Delegates also adopted a resolution on strengthening the Agency’s activities related to nuclear science, technology and applications covering both power and non-power applications.  Under the same umbrella, delegates adopted another resolution inviting States to make financial commitments and contributions so as to complete the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories (ReNuAL) by 2017.

A resolution on strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of IAEA safeguards calls on all Member States to give their full and continuing support to the Agency in order to ensure that it is able to meet its safeguards responsibilities.

The General Conference approved the applications of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Turkmenistan for membership in the IAEA. Membership will take effect once the appropriate legal instruments are deposited with the Agency.

For Pakistan, the most notably thing was being elected among the other new IAEA Board members on 17 September, 2015 to serve for two years. Others are: Belarus, Ghana, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Namibia, Paraguay, Philippines, Spain, Turkey and Uruguay. The Board of Governors generally meets five times per year: in March and June, twice in September (before and after the General Conference) and in December.

At its meetings, the Board examines and makes recommendations to the General Conference on the IAEA’s accounts, program and budget, and considers applications for membership. It also approves safeguards agreements and the publication of the IAEA’s safety standards and has the responsibility of appointing the Director General of the IAEA with the approval of the General Conference.

The 60th IAEA General Conference is due to be held from 26-30 September 2016 at the Agency’s headquarters in Vienna. Let’s see what it brings for Pakistan.

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Shahzadi Tooba Hussain Syed

Shahzadi Tooba Hussain Syed works at Strategic Vision Institute in Islamabad. He can be reached at Shahzadisvi@gmail.com

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