SA elected as chair of IAEA Board of Governors

South Africa has been elected to serve as the chair of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors.

South Africa, led by Ambassador Tebogo Seokolo, will chair for the body until October 2017. The last time South Africa chaired the IAEA board was in 1959.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Monday said the election of South Africa as chair is an affirmation of the country’s leadership role on the world stage, specifically on matters of nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Seokolo welcomed the appointment and thanked the board for entrusting him with the responsibility of presiding over the affairs of the agency for the coming period.

I will depend on your advice, support and solidarity in carrying this historic mission.

Seokolo said South Africa’s appointment as chair comes at a critical moment in the country, the African continent and the world in general.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of South Africa’s accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the signing and the entry into force of the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) with the IAEA.

It also marks the 20th anniversary of the Treaty of Pelindaba, which created an African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone as a means towards the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free world.

In 2017, South Africa will also join the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the first nuclear weapon free zone – the Treaty of Tlatelolco in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Seokolo said the IAEA has a central role to play in the successful implementation and achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

We reaffirm the centrality of the Technical Cooperation Programme as the main delivery vehicle through which the agency supports the developmental objectives of member states. I hope that the programme and budget that we will adopt in the coming months will continue to reflect this imperative.

About the IAEA

Established in 1957, the IAEA is a multilateral body charged with promoting the safe and secure use of nuclear science and technology for peace and development. It currently has 171 member states.

The Board of Governors (BoG) is the major policy-making organ of the IAEA in between the agency’s annual general conferences. It is made up of 35 member states, with South Africa serving as one of the permanent members.

The board provides strategic oversight over the activities of the Secretariat, led by the Director General, and approves the programme and budget of the organisation and monitors its implementation.

The Vienna-based IAEA has over the years played an important role in supporting interested member states, based on their respective needs and priorities, to use nuclear energy to generate electricity.

In recent years, the IAEA has played a prominent role in assisting its members to implement their regional and national development plans.

For example, in Africa, the IAEA is involved in assisting affected countries, including South Africa, to use nuclear techniques to eradicate mosquitoes and tsetse flies in order to control their associated diseases like malaria and trypanosomiasis.

It also uses nuclear techniques to detect and treat animal diseases, which also impact human health. It is understood that 70% of human diseases directly emanate from animal diseases.

Source: South African Government News Agency