As we mark Human Rights Day with a hopeful look in the direction of the top of the COVID-19 pandemic, it strikes me as time to focus on the often-underappreciated methods the atom helps the attainment of our elementary human rights.
The function of the IAEA because the world’s “nuclear watchdog” is important to international peace and safety and wishes no preamble. By guarding towards nuclear proliferation, the Company helps peace and freedom from oppression. However the IAEA additionally contributes considerably to social and financial rights around the globe. By working to make sure that everybody can profit from nuclear science, the IAEA underpins rights enshrined within the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1976. These embrace the appropriate to learn from scientific progress; the appropriate to an enough way of life and the appropriate to the highest-attainable customary of well being.
The Company does this through the use of nuclear science to fight zoonotic ailments; bolster meals security; defend fruits from pests; strengthen water administration; deal with most cancers; and naturally, to assist international locations mitigate local weather change.
Supporting these elementary human growth areas is on the core of the IAEA’s technical cooperation help. Greater than 140 international locations – together with many least developed nations, 26 in Africa – come to the IAEA looking for science-based options to handle assets, deal with a rising incidence of continual and infectious ailments and to spice up productiveness via clear and dependable industrial processes.
Simply final yr, the IAEA supported 2081 fellows and skilled greater than 3,400 scientists and specialists. These discovered, amongst others, to make use of isotopic methods to test the origin and high quality of contemporary water, learn how to develop heat-resistant kinds of tomatoes, and to guard sufferers in order that they obtain simply the appropriate dose of radiation to beat a tumour.
Supporting international locations to prosper has been on the coronary heart of our work because the IAEA was created in 1957 with the statutory mission to “speed up and enlarge the contribution of atomic power to peace, well being and prosperity all through the world.”
This mandate couldn’t be extra well timed.
Nuclear science and expertise contribute on to a number of Sustainable Development Goals – from zero starvation to life on land. And their contribution will proceed to develop as international locations search to deal with the massive challenges of our time.
Let’s take zoonotic ailments, like COVID-19. Many international locations turned to the IAEA for assist throughout the pandemic, as nuclear-derived PCR exams are essentially the most correct and dependable method to detect viruses. The Company shipped greater than 1,873 consignments of virus detection tools to 126 international locations and territories. And seeking to the long run, we launched the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) initiative to construct the human, infrastructure and scientific capability in international locations to boost international preparedness towards zoonotic illness outbreaks and stop future well being disaster introduced upon by ailments that transition from animals to people.
Climate change is one other main present risk to humanity the place nuclear expertise is a part of the answer. Efforts to avert the devastating results of burning fossil fuels require instant reductions in greenhouse gasoline emissions, significantly within the power sector. As a dependable supply of low-carbon electrical energy, nuclear energy can considerably contribute to this. The IAEA helps international locations within the environment friendly, protected and safe use of this sustainable power. It helps present and new nuclear programmes around the globe, serving as a catalyst for innovation and constructing capability from power planning and evaluation to design, development, operation, and information administration.
As we emerge from the pandemic dealing with financial uncertainty, sustainable growth is excessive on the world agenda. This requires that we offer all obtainable instruments to assist international locations safeguard their folks’s fundamental rights, akin to entry to protected meals, water, enough well being care, power and the advantages of scientific progress. Nuclear science and expertise are highly effective instruments that will likely be indispensable to drive this progress.