In which the WHO is precluded from publishing any research on radiation effects without consultation with the IAEA.
The IAEA, set up through the UN in 1957 “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy,” and its 1959 agreement with WHO.
The IAEA-WHO pact has muzzled the WHO, providing for the “hiding” from the “public of any information “unwanted” by the nuclear industry
Interpretation of WHO’s agreement with the international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been questioned by several journalists and others on its relationship with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). There was concern that WHO cannot act independently on matters related to exposure to radioactive substances and human health because it is bound by the 1959 Agreement between the two agencies. Such concern is unfounded.
The 1959 Agreement between WHO and IAEA does not affect the impartial and independent exercise by WHO of its statutory responsibilities, nor does it place WHO in a situation of subordination to IAEA. This has been amply demonstrated in the past, with one such example being the WHO recommendations on iodine prophylaxis in the case of nuclear accidents, which were published recently in hard copy and which may be consulted on the WHO web site.
The Agreement between WHO and IAEA follows the model of agreements concluded between WHO and the United Nations or other international organizations. Such agreements establish a general framework to enable the organizations concerned to shape and develop their cooperation according to their programmes and priorities, and do not contain detailed obligations. It is customary, for example, for organizations to agree to consult on matters of joint interest or on which either party may have a substantial interest. However, as Article 1 of the WHO-IAEA Agreement makes clear, such commitment does not in any way imply a submission of one organization to the authority of the other so as to affect their independence and responsibilities under their respective constitutional mandates.
The confidentiality clause appearing in Article III is contained in agreements concluded by WHO with other international organizations. It represents a normal safeguard against disclosure of information that the organizations concerned, WHO included, are legally obliged to protect in the course of their operations. In the case of information held by WHO, such a clause is relevant, for example, for the protection of clinical and other similar data on individuals.
WHO is in the process of developing a comprehensive Global Programme on Radiation with a clear strategy and priorities to safeguard public health concerns in the use of nuclear techniques. As in the past, WHO environmental health experts will continue the scientific collaboration with radiation and health experts at IAEA. This entails not only nuclear safety issues and assistance in radiation emergencies, but also the application of radiological techniques in medical practice.
As regards depleted uranium, WHO is currently finalizing a generic assessment of any possible health risks posed by exposure to depleted uranium. As requested by the January 2001 session of the WHO Executive Board, the WHO Secretariat will report its findings and recommendations related to depleted uranium to all its Member States at the next World Health Assembly which takes place in mid-May. In addition, WHO has undertaken field missions to Kosovo and Iraq to investigate the health situation and to provide the needed professional advice to the respective health authorities. These activities of the Organization are in no way hampered by the WHO/IAEA agreement.
Radiation has always been a natural part of our environment. Natural radioactive sources in the soil, water and air contribute to our exposure to ionizing radiation, as well as man-made sources resulting from mining and use of naturally radioactive materials in power generation, nuclear medicine, consumer products, military and industrial applications.
Where does radiation exposure come from?