Fourth Committee Delegates Urge More Funding for Scientific Committee to Enable It to Assess Emerging Risks of Atomic Radiation on Human Health, Environment

16 October 2009
GA/SPD/431

Fourth Committee Delegates Urge More Funding for Scientific Committee to Enable It to Assess Emerging Risks of Atomic Radiation on Human Health, Environment

16 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/SPD/431
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

11th Meeting (AM)

Fourth Committee Delegates Urge More Funding for Scientific Committee to Enable It

to Assess Emerging Risks of Atomic Radiation on Human Health, Environment

Science Should Not Be “Moving Target” For Policy Decisions, Marshall Islands

Speaker Says, Distressed Over Country’s Long-Term Exposure to Atomic Radiation

Considering the consequences of exposure to atomic radiation on human health and the environment, delegates in the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) today called for increased funding and resources for the Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation so that it could properly fulfil its mandate of assessing the levels, effects and emerging risks of ionizing radiation.

As the Fourth Committee began its annual consideration of the issue, Norman Gentner, the Scientific Committee’s Chair, emphasized that the publication of his Committee’s 2008 report had been hindered by a personal crisis suffered by the sole professional in the Committee’s secretariat.  The delay was “not very good”, he stressed, as timeliness was of the essence, particularly when it related to the blossoming issue of radiation exposure.

He highlighted the dangers of understaffing the Scientific Committee, which had resulted in a postponement of the Committee’s fifty-seventh session for almost a year, from 25-29 May 2009 to 19-23 April 2010.  Steps had been taken to mitigate the consequences, but continued reliance on a single professional hampered the Committee’s work.  He reiterated the need for a new position in the secretariat, as well as a membership policy and budget that allowed the Committee to function well.

Calling the information provided by the Scientific Committee a “vital tool”, Canada’s representative -– chair of the Committee’s fifty-sixth and fifty-seventh sessions –- said that, despite its crucial work, there had long been a mismatch between the challenges the Committee faced and the resources it was provided to undertake its work.  The Committee had undertaken many important scientific analyses of the levels and effects of ionizing radiation since its creation by the General Assembly in 1955, but unfortunately, it had gradually lost financial and secretariat resources.

Echoing the call for increased resources, Sweden’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the Scientific Committee’s was “hugely important”.  The Committee had been instrumental in improving international scientific understanding of the levels of exposure to ionizing radiation and its effects on health and environment, but further knowledge was needed of the effects and risks of chronic low-level exposures.  There was also an identified need for streamlining the worldwide collection of data on radiation exposure.

The representative of the Marshall Islands emphasized the urgent need for comprehensive, unbiased and objective understanding of the effects of atomic radiation.  Resolutions passed on the subject of exposure to atomic radiation were an opportunity for the international community to show far stronger endorsement for sustaining the Scientific Committee through strengthened support for advancing comprehensive and objective scientific understanding of exposure. 

Science should not be a “moving target” for policy and political decisions, she said, stressing that the issue was not just historical, but one which had continued for generations in the Marshall Islands.  Science confirmed what people and communities had long known -– that the United Nations itself could do much more to facilitate public dissemination and scientific understanding of exposure to atomic radiation, particularly in the context of her country.

The representative of Pakistan stressed, however, that while studying the effects of atomic radiation was a noble and important task, those efforts required the expertise of current and future Member States.  In that context, Pakistan ascribed special importance to the issue of the Committee’s membership, and looked forward to becoming a member and contributing positively.  Moreover, ideas to restrict the Committee’s membership were not consistent with the principled decisions of the General Assembly on the subject, he said, expressing hope that a draft resolution to that effect would be approved by consensus in the Fourth Committee, when it takes up the text next week. 

Similarly, Belarus was willing to contribute constructively to improve the Committee’s work, that country’s delegate said, adding that an increase in the Committee’s membership would improve its efficacy.  Accepting Belarus as a member would make the most efficient use of its practical experience regarding the impact of Chernobyl, the greatest environmental disaster of atomic times, he noted.

Also speaking during the general debate on the issue were the representatives of Uruguay (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), Cuba, Myanmar, Syria, Finland, Australia and Ukraine.

The representative of Australia also participated in a brief discussion, following Mr. Gentner’s address to the Committee.

The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 20 October, to begin consideration of its agenda item on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

Background

The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met today to begin its consideration of the effects of atomic radiation.  It had before it a letter dated 10 July 2009 from the Chairman of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, addressed to the President of the General Assembly (document A/64/223), which informs of the recent activities of that Committee.

The document is in lieu of the usual report of the Scientific Committee, owing to unavoidable postponement of the fifty-seventh session.  As stated in the letter, work was significantly hindered on arranging documents for delivery at the fifty-seventh session of the Committee, originally scheduled from 25 to 29 May, because of an unforeseen serious personal crisis for the Committee’s Secretary.  That issue necessitated extended periods of leave between October 2008 and April 2009.  As a result, it was concluded that the fifty-seventh session should be rescheduled for the period from 19 to 23 April 2010.

Informing the General Assembly of the present status and future plans regarding matters raised in the relevant paragraphs of Assembly resolution (document A/63/89), the letter states that, to help recover lost time in preparing documents for the rescheduled fifty-seventh session, the officers of the Committee have requested the secretariat to take action in line with the longer-term strategic plan and programme of work agreed by the Committee at its fifty-sixth session and endorsed by the Assembly at its sixty-third session.

Accordingly, the letter says, the secretariat has been making arrangements to convene specialized expert group meetings to review relevant material and has been engaging consultants for the development of manuscripts.

Also according to the letter, the secretariat is reviewing lessons identified from recent Committee assessments and from other data collection, initiatives and mechanisms, with a view to streamlining the collection of data on radiation exposure and avoiding duplication of efforts.  It is also convening expert group meetings in the second half of 2009 to address the future collection of data relating to public, occupational and medical patient exposures.  Such meetings will involve the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the European Union.

The letter also states that a paper will be circulated among the representatives of the 21 Member States of the Scientific Committee, so that discussions can be facilitated and concluded at the fifty-seventh session.  The paper will be finalized by the representatives in joint and open debate, with the outcome submitted to the Assembly.

Statement by the Chair of the Scientific Committee

NORMAN GENTNER, Chairperson of the Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) said that as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, the Scientific Committee reported directly to the Assembly.  It reviewed the levels, effects and risks of ionizing radiation, identifying emerging issues, evaluating levels and effects, and improving knowledge for the Assembly, the scientific community and the public.

In lieu of a report on the effects of atomic radiation, he had written a letter explaining that the development of that document had been hindered by the personal crisis of the sole professional of the Committee’s secretary, who had taken more than 60 days of leave.  As a result, the fifth-seven session had been rescheduled to 19-23 April 2010.  Highlighting the dangers of having such a position in the Committee so understaffed, he said that steps had been taken to mitigate the consequences of that and to recover.

The first volume of UNSCEAR’s 2006 report, published in July 2008, included information on epidemiological studies of radiation and cancer, and an epidemiological evaluation of cardiovascular disease and other non-cancer diseases following radiation exposure, he said.  Volume II, published in July 2009, discussed the non-targeted and delayed effects of exposure to ionizing radiation, the effects of ionizing radiation on the immune system, and sources-to-effects assessment for radon in workplaces and homes.

The Committee’s 2008 report, approved at the fifty-sixth session, held from 10-18 July 2008, had not yet been published.  Its publication was a priority, as timeliness was of the essence.  To have something come out late was not very good, particularly when it related to radiation exposure, which was a blossoming issue.  For that reason, the Committee believed that the continued reliance on a single professional was hampering its work.  A new P-4 position was required to assist in the Committee’s work, he said.

Topics for the new document cycle included the uncertainty in radiation risk estimation; attribution of health effects due to radiation exposure; assessments of levels of radiation from energy production, and the effects on human health and the environment; updating the methodology for estimating exposures due to discharges from nuclear installations; summary of radiation effects; and improving data collection, analysis and dissemination.

Regarding new members of the Committee, he said that the Committee was developing evaluation criteria reflecting significant elements, the availability of expert scientists in the fields of its work, and attendance and participation at Committee sessions, as well as contributions to the work of the secretariat and contributions-in-kind.  Such criteria would be applicable, as far as possible, to both existing and potential future members.

Welcoming the interest of Member States, he said that the Committee would suggest that the maximum number of members should remain at about the present number, in order that the scientific quality, effectiveness and efficiency of the Committee were not compromised.  Solutions could be found, therefore, without necessarily increasing the size of the Committee.

In concluding remarks, he said that the unique work performed by the Committee was invaluable to Member States.  The work had to be apolitical and unbiased science, which was essential to making informed decisions about nuclear technology, including nuclear power.  UNSCEAR was the only scientific group that did that, and Member States should support a membership policy and budget that allowed the Committee to function well.

Discussion

The representative of Australia asked what sort of institutional support the Committee could provide to advance the work and how the review process could be accelerated.  With the new biological information and the rapid expansion of technologies, that would be an increasingly important source of information.

Addressing Australia’s questions, Mr. Gentner said that institutional support remained strong at the levels of review and data input, but that the Committee was losing institutional support with regard to the contribution by radiation science centres in various countries, in terms of “consultants to write the data”.  Those consultants were experts, but they spent a lot of time working for a “pittance” -– remuneration that covered just a few days out of the months of work provided.  The Committee, therefore, had increasingly relied on consultants from academia, who did not adhere as strictly to deadlines.

With regard to speeding up reviews, he said one thing to do was, instead of publishing “weighty tomes” every four to five years, the Committee could publish shorter documents more often, perhaps with a statement put out in one year.  That could be done by more inter-sessional work.  The ideal thing would be to meet two to four times a year, but that would be enormously expensive.  A “sort of magic happens” at UNSCEAR meetings, when top scientists got together and started debating an issue.  Increasing the frequency of those sessions would help, but were not likely to come about without a major shift in support for UNSCEAR.

STAFFAN HEMRÅ ( Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the work of the Scientific Committee was “hugely important”.  It had been instrumental in improving international scientific understanding of the levels of exposure to ionizing radiation and its effects on health and environment.  However, further knowledge was needed of the effects and risks of chronic low level exposures.  There was an identified need for streamlining the worldwide collection of data on radiation exposure, in order to produce high quality assessments and improve collection, analysis and dissemination of data.  A positive step in that direction was the planned expert group meetings, which connected organizations and agencies involved in the use and surveillance of radiation.

However, he continued, owing to unfortunate events and limited flexibility, the Committee had been forced to postpone its fifty-seventh session.  That illustrated the insufficient budgetary and personnel resources under which the Committee had to perform.  The delay in publication of Committee reports was “regrettable”.  The European Union fully supported the planned expert group meetings, intended to help keep the process in motion, and noted the need for increased funding.  The Union looked forward to an informed early decision on the Scientific Committee’s membership and on its re-vitalization through the development of criteria that would ensure its efficiency and effectiveness.

MARTÍN VIDAL (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said he lamented that the lack of administrative and budgetary resources had led to the postponement of the fifty-seventh session.  He also lamented that things had had to reach that point before the decision had been made to solve the problem of the shortfall of personnel in the Scientific Committee.  MERCOSUR welcomed that a solution might be found, with additional charges.

He said that MERCOSUR was committed to supporting the General Assembly in its efforts to assist the Committee, and in particular, it supported the steps being taken in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) along those lines.  Keeping in mind that a new date had been set for the Scientific Committee’s fifty-seventh session, MERCOSUR was certain that the Committee would be able to make up its work and that it would continue to provide valuable information, working with scientific skill and independent criteria.

REBECA HERNANDEZ TOLEDANO ( Cuba) said there was no justification for the continued existence of 26,000 nuclear weapons in the world, 12,000 of which were ready for immediate deployment.  She said it was not difficult to imagine the terrible consequences, and reiterated Cuba’s call for the total banning of nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear energy for arms purposes.

She said it was important to maintain and strengthen the links between the Scientific Committee, Member States and different United Nations bodies and institutions, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the IAEA, and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).  Cuba had provided significant assistance to its “sister nation” of Ukraine, despite limited resources, in order to mitigate the consequences of the Chernobyl accident.  A rehabilitation programme had been in place for 17 years to treat victims of the nuclear accident. Apart from the programme’s humanitarian aspects, scientific data had also been collected and disseminated in the main scientific forums to assess the disaster’s aftereffects.  The data had been used by international bodies of the United Nations system.  Cuba welcomed the expansion of the membership for the Scientific Committee and requested that an additional six Member States be included.

LYDIA KAMINAGA (Marshall Islands) said that for more than 50 years, the people of the Marshall Islands had travelled to the halls of the United Nations to raise a single issue -– the one that was at the central focus of the resolution before the Committee today, namely the urgent need for comprehensive, unbiased and objective understanding of the effects of atomic radiation.  For her country, the issue of exposure to the effects of atomic radiation was not an abstract scientific principle, but an active experience.  In the context of support for and consideration of UNSCEAR’s work researching the effects of background radiation, her delegation wanted to draw attention to the need to consider the appropriate responsibility of the United Nations, through its Member States and agencies, and of the former United Nations administering authority, the United States, in fully addressing the effects of atomic radiation in the Marshall Islands.

She said that during its status as a United Nations Trust Territory, Marshall Islands had been the test site of 67 large-scale atmospheric nuclear weapons, by the United Nations administering authority, from 1948 to 1958.  That had taken place with the explicit approval of the United Nations Trusteeship Council.  The people of the Marshall Islands, for decades, had spent considerable effort detailing the specific and devastating effects of the exposure to atomic materials, including declassified documents detailing deliberate exposure.

The true impact of those United Nations-mandated actions upon the people, culture and environment of the Marshall Islands was beyond description, she continued.  It was not just a historical issue, but one which, because of a variety of actions undertaken with inadequate understanding of safe scientific levels of exposure, had continued for generations.  Acknowledging the important efforts that had since been taken to remediate the environment and address the health and losses of the people, she said that the Marshall Islands were still awaiting a complete response, and were still in exile.  Science confirmed what people and communities had long known -– that the United Nations itself could do much more to facilitate public dissemination and scientific understanding of exposure to atomic radiation, particularly in the context of the Marshall Islands.

The resolutions passed on the subject did not regard any one nation or people impacted by the effects of exposure to atomic radiation, she said.  Rather, those were an opportunity for the international community to show far stronger endorsement for sustaining UNSCEAR through strengthened support for advancing comprehensive and objective scientific understanding of exposure.  Science should not be a “moving target” for policy and political decisions, she emphasized.

AHMED FAROOQ ( Pakistan) said the work of the Scientific Committee was independent and highly professional.  Pakistan was pleased to co-sponsor the draft resolution, and said that the scope of the Committee would only increase as diverse scientific frontiers were explored every day.  Studying the effect of atomic radiation on human beings and the environment was a noble and important task.  Those efforts required the expertise of current and future Member States, and in that context, he ascribed special importance to the issue of the Committee’s membership.  Pakistan looked forward to becoming a member, and was committed to contributing positively, as a valuable addition to its activities.

He said that the Committee had an important mandate, and adequate resources must be provided for it.  The problem of staffing at the professional secretariat had been resolved, and he hoped that neither the Committee’s mandate nor expansion of its membership would be affected by financial issues, especially when the remedial actions did not constrain the overall budget of the Organization.  Ideas to restrict the Committee’s membership were not consistent with the principled decisions of the General Assembly on the subject, and he hoped the draft resolution to that effect would be approved by consensus.

U KO KO SHEIN (Myanmar) said that his delegation was disappointed that the Scientific Committee had not been able to produce its report on time, and that its fifty-seventh session had been rescheduled due to the unforeseen personal crisis for Committee Secretary.  Those occurrences confirmed the assessment that reliance on a single professional-level official was not only insufficient, but also adversely affected the longer-term strategic plan and work programme.

He said that the need to strengthen human resources for the professional, scientific secretariat, in order to support the Committee in a more predictable and sustainable manner with a longer-term perspective, was indeed a must.  In that regard, his delegation reiterated its request to the Secretary-General to consider all options, including the possibility of international reallocation to fulfil the Committee’s mandate.

Welcoming the convening of expert group meetings in the second half of 2009 to address the future collection of data relating to public, occupational and medical patient exposures, he said his delegation also believed that the Scientific Committee should hold regular sessions on an annual basis, so that its reports could reflect the latest developments and findings in the field of ionizing radiation, and thereby provide updated information for dissemination among all States.  Funding for the Committee should be augmented, and a solution should be found to the financial and resources issues before any discussion took place in the Assembly in relation to the possibility of expanding its membership.

MANAR TALEB ( Syria) said that his delegation had studied the Scientific Committee’s document, and he underscored the need for the Committee to continue to complete its functions and play its role in the future.  He welcomed the fixing of a new date for UNSCEAR’s upcoming session, and said all necessary measures should be taken to support the Committee’s strategy, and raise awareness and understanding among relevant circles regarding atomic radiation and its consequences on health and the environment.

He said that it was Syria’s policy that countries should be able to pursue programmes of peaceful uses of nuclear energy for the purpose of development, without a double standard.  His delegation was very concerned about hampering developing countries, which sought to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  Obstacles were often justified as non-proliferation measures.  Syria had always recalled the need to free the world from nuclear arsenals and to protect it from atomic radiation, and had been among the world’s pioneers in calling for a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East and a world free from nuclear warheads.

Among initiatives aimed at attaining those objectives, the most recent had been the draft resolution presented by Syria on behalf of the Arab Group in the Security Council in October 2003, which was aimed at establishing a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East, including first and foremost, nuclear weapons, under international supervision.  That would bolster the international and multilateral instruments that regulated disarmament.  The fact that Israel had “all the nuclear weapons in the region” and refused to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or accept IAEA safeguards undermined peace and security in the region and throughout the world, and could lead to an arms race.  Israel’s actions served to weaken the credibility of international efforts to put end to nuclear proliferation.

Continuing, he stressed that a Chernobyl-like catastrophe could be reproduced in any nuclear reactor around the world.  Thus, the world had the right to know what was happening in those reactors and whether they were under secure conditions or not.  The absence of international oversight and a safeguards system represented a flagrant danger, and it was incumbent on the international community to compel Israel to submit all of its nuclear reactors –- eight in total -- to oversight and move towards nuclear disarmament.  That would be in step with paragraph 5 of Security Council resolution 487 (1981).

Syria also drew attention to the grave matter of the risks of atomic radiation caused by radioactive waste in certain developed countries and in the oceans.  That had terrible consequences in neighbouring territories and their populations, as well as on the environment.  Continuing along these lines, he said that Israel proceeded to dump nuclear waste along the Occupied Syrian Golan, “with the silence of the international community”.  That undermined trust in the discussion on nuclear disarmament.  Israel must respect the international instruments in the field of nuclear disarmament. “Humanity must be protected from this mortal danger”, he concluded.

ALAN BOWMAN ( Canada) said that Canada, as chair of the fifty-sixth and fifty-seventh sessions of UNSCEAR, had had the honour to coordinate the preparation of this year’s resolution on the effects of atomic radiation.  The text would support the Scientific Committee by continuing to endorse its long-standing mandate and encouraging it to pursue its important work.  UNSCEAR’s activities, and particularly its work related to the use of nuclear energy, continued to demonstrate its important function in providing authoritative scientific assessments of the sources and effects of atomic radiation.  That had renewed importance, given the current “renaissance” of nuclear energy.

He said that the information provided by UNSCEAR was a vital tool, which allowed non-governmental organizations, the IAEA, Member States and users of nuclear energy to evaluate radiation risk and establish appropriate safety and radiation protection standards.  Despite its crucial work, UNSCEAR had long faced a mismatch between the challenges facing the Scientific Committee and the resources it required to undertake its work.  Since its creation by the General Assembly in 1955, UNSCEAR had undertaken many important scientific analyses of the levels and effects of ionizing radiation.  Unfortunately, over time, the Scientific Committee had gradually lost financial and secretariat resources.

Canada hoped the situation in the Committee’s secretariat would soon be remedied, and he was pleased that last year’s resolution had helped set the stage for a potential increase in resources in 2010.  UNSCEAR needed adequate staff to provide much-needed back-up in the case of illness or absence, and to enhance the ability of the secretariat to manage the Committee’s significant workload, particularly considering how much more information, data and publications now needed to be taken into account in the Committee’s work, given the impact of the Internet on scientific research in the past decade.

He said his country supported the views of the Committee scientists that criteria should be developed to evaluate the ability of Member States to contribute to a strengthened Committee.  Canada also believed that it was worthwhile to consult with the Committee members on the application of criteria, and hoped that those criteria would be developed in time to allow for a decision on renewed membership before UNSCEAR’s fifty-eighth session.

JARMO VIINANEN ( Finland) said the Scientific Committee’s work was essential as the basis for establishing protective measures against radiation risks.  Raising the issues of staffing, he said his delegation was optimistic that the issue would be solved in the current General Assembly session, and looked forward to the revitalization of the Committee, in order to maintain its dynamism, scientific quality, effectiveness and efficiency in the future.  It was important, therefore, to develop, with the participation of observer members, objective criteria and relevant indicators to be applied to current and future members of the Committee.  Once the resource issue had been solved, he looked forward to the positive decision on Finland’s full membership in the Committee.  The strengthened membership was conducive to the Committee’s revitalization, as new members would bring important contributions to the Committee’s inherently scientific work.

DAVID WINDSOR ( Australia), expressing support for the work of the Scientific Committee, said the Committee was a long-running institution, going now for more than half a century.  Compared to 50 years ago, there was now a considerably better understanding of the effects of ionizing radiation on humans and other species; how to quantify radiation exposures; and how to assess the impacts from various exposure pathways.  UNSCEAR’s work had contributed significantly to that understanding.  Thanks to its work, more was known about the effects of ionizing radiation than about many other pollutants.

He said that when the Scientific Committee started its work, the context was the great concern over the testing of nuclear weapons.  Thankfully, the world had moved on from that time.  The Committee’s work had contributed to the Partial Test Ban Treaty (Treaty banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, In Outer Space and Under Water).  Today, its work was most vital in understanding the risks involved in new technologies.  Currently, UNSCEAR was reviewing the uncertainties around chronic, but low-level, exposures, and the radiological impact of nuclear energy production.  It was important to keep that in perspective as well:  worldwide, radiological exposures from the nuclear fuel cycle were less than one-thousandth that from diagnostic practice.

The Scientific Committee only operated effectively due to the large in-kind contribution from Member States, who provided collectively more than 100 scientific experts to participate in the annual meetings –- at no cost to the wider United Nations membership, he explained.  The results of their work, of course, were available to all.  Australia wanted to put on record that it would welcome an additional professional post in its Secretariat.  A consideration of membership in UNSCEAR should be based on sustainable knowledge on a broad range of issues in the field of radiation levels and effects.  The Committee required the capability to compile, prepare and evaluate scientific reports; to assess draft scientific documents; and to summarize and synthesize the material for the General Assembly, the scientific community and the public.

DENIS ZDOROV ( Belarus) expressed support for increasing UNSCEAR’s membership, as that would increase the Committee’s efficacy.  The drafting of evaluation criteria would reinforce its standing as one of the main scientific committees of the Organization for the evaluation of the impact of atomic radiation on peoples and the environment.  He supported the draft United Nations budget regarding granting additional resources to increase the Committee’s membership, and added that Belarus was ready to contribute constructively.  That would include “enough human and financial resource to improve the Committee’s work.”

Regarding Belarus’s candidacy for the Scientific Committee, he said his delegation had participated actively in the Committee’s work, providing it with scientists and necessary materials.  Accepting Belarus would make the most efficient use of that country’s practical experience with the impact of Chernobyl, the greatest environmental disaster of atomic times.

ANDRIY KHARYTYNSKYI ( Ukraine) said that for the past 50 years, UNSCEAR had been the trusted world authority, recognized for its achievements and reputation, for ITS independence and scientific credibility.  Taking note of the three new annexes of UNSCEAR’s report on the effects of ionizing radiation, he said that all of them showed that occupational exposure, exposure from naturally-occurring radioactive materials and new medical procedures were receiving even more attention.  Adopted documents enabled the renovation of scientific understanding of radiation effects on a living cell, as well as the improvement of methods in radiation protection and the effectiveness of research work.

Expressing satisfaction with the fact that a range of Ukrainian proposals and data had been included in the annexes, he said that such data represented the real state of research in Ukraine.  It was worthwhile to mention that, from the very beginning, the Committee had been involved in the evaluation of radiation exposures and health efforts related to the Chernobyl accident, because of its impact on the health of several generations.  For its part, Ukraine showed its readiness to continue its active cooperation with the Committee and all parties concerned, in order to counter and minimize the consequences of the largest nuclear accident in the history of humanity, by using a common scientific understanding of its causes and nature.

UNSCEAR should continue to be involved in practical Chernobyl-applicable activity, particularly in the calculation of collective doses of radiation.  That work had started during the preparatory phase of construction of the new confinement, and would carry on for the next 50 months.  Still, the status of observer and certain limitations associated with that status had had an adverse impact on Ukraine’s ability to receive relevant reports and information from the secretariat and to contribute most efficiently to the discussions and preparation of conclusions during the Committee’s sessions, let alone to participate in the decision-making process.

Recalling Ukraine’s bid for membership in the Committee, he said that despite the current difficulties in the world economy, his Government nevertheless stood for sufficient funding of the Scientific Committee in 2010.  Such funding would secure adequate performance of the statutory goals of the Committee, and would help to fulfil UNSCEAR’s strategic plan for the period 2009-2013.

Following the conclusion of the Committee’s general debate on the effects of atomic radiation, Chairperson NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) said that the draft resolution on the topic was not ready for action by the Committee.  The Committee would thus postpone action on that until next week, he said.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.