International Judicial Monitor
Published by the International judicial Academy of the International Law Institute, Washington, D.C.
with circulation assistance from the American Society of International Law

Spring 2017 Issue

International Tribunal Spotlight


European Nuclear Energy Tribunal 

Central American Court of Justice 

In the roughly 60 years since nuclear power plants have been planned and developed world wide, there have been seven accidents at such plants, beginning in 1957. In the fall of that year there was a fire and meltdown at a power plant in the U.K., in the county of Cumbria (Windscale Number 1). Other “disasters” at nuclear power plants include:

Sodium Reactor Experiment, Los Angeles, California, U.S., 1959

SL-1  Boiling Water Reactor, Idaho Falls, Idaho, U.S., 1959

Enrico Fermi Unit 1, Frenchtown Charter Township, Michigan, U.S., 1966

Three Mile Island Reactor, Middletown, Pennsylvania, U.S., 1978

Chernobyl, Ukraine, 1986

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Fukushima, Japan 2011

The first nuclear disaster in the U.K. was apparently a call to action among the nations of Europe, as a convention and protocol for the establishment of a tribunal to deal with claims arising from such disasters were adopted in December, 1957 by a group of European nations. The Convention on the Establishment of a Security Control in the Field of Nuclear Energy, and the Protocol on the Tribunal established by the Convention were adopted in December, 1957 and came into force in July, 1959. One reason for the creation of the tribunal was to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons (“hearing cases involving the violation of the European regional nuclear safeguards”). This original reason was suspended in


1970 in deference to the jurisdiction of other international nuclear agencies.

The Tribunal now is devoted to hearing cases “concerning liability over nuclear accidents.” If a case is presented where the country concerned is not represented on the panel, the government of that country may appoint an additional judge to sit in that case. To date there have been no case filings for the Tribunal to consider.

According to the Legal Affairs Office of the Tribunal, it has its own rules of procedure. The applicable law is the provisions of the Security Control Convention  and a subsequent convention, the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy adopted in July, 1960.

The nations that subscribed to the Security Control Convention are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Austria is a party to the Security Control Convention but not the Paris Convention. Slovenia is a part to the latter Convention but not the former one.

Seven judges are appointed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to the tribunal for terms of five years according to a system of rotation among the member states. The current panel of judges, appointed for terms beginning January 1, 2015, are from Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland. The current President of the Tribunal is Dr. Peter Baumann of Austria.

There is a Registrar for the Tribunal (currently Head of the Office of Legal Counsel of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency). Tribunal offices are located in Paris, France at the OECD headquarters.

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© 2017 – The International Judicial Academy
with assistance from the American Society of International Law.

Editor: James G. Apple.
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