The benefits and risks of any practice involving ionizing radiation, which is often shortened to just radiation, need to be established so that an informed judgment can be made on their use, and any risks minimized. The discovery of ionizing radiation and radioactive materials has led to advances in medical diagnosis and treatment, and they are used for a wide range of procedures in industry, agriculture, and research. Nevertheless, they can be harmful to living organisms, and they thus must be protected from unnecessary or excessive exposures.
Concerned about the potentially harmful effects on present and future generations resulting from the levels of radiation to which mankind and the environment are exposed, the UN General Assembly through its resolution 913 (X) of 3 December 1955 established the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). The mandate of the Scientific Committee is to conduct regular evaluations of the levels of exposure from all sources of ionizing radiation and the associated health and environmental effects.
The Scientific Committee was originally composed of 15 Member States, and subsequently enlarged in 1973 to be 20, in 1986 to be 21; and just last year (2011) six other Member States were invited to become members so that at present 27 UN Member States are member of the Scientific Committee. Indonesia is one of five countries added as a member in 1973. The enlargement of the Scientific Committee shows how countries consider the Scientific Committee as an important organization in deepening understanding on the global levels of ionizing radiation and the related effects on health and environment.
In its 81st plenary meeting on 9 December 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/66/70 on the “Effects of Atomic Radiation”. The resolution, among others, welcomes the strategy of the Scientific Committee to improve data collection, encourages in this regard Member States, the organizations of the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations concerned to provide further relevant data about doses, effects and risks from various sources of radiation.
The public, however, has a high sense of concern about radiation due to the accidents at nuclear power plants and other facilities, as well as by the common tendency to associate any form of radiation with all things ‘nuclear’, including nuclear weapons. The reasons for these concerns may be the lack of reliable and accessible information from the authorities and the scientific communities, and the misunderstandings that arise.
With this issue in mind, and considering current trends and developments in the use of ionizing radiation worldwide, the Conference aims to focus efforts in this area and to maximize the communication among the stakeholders (authorities, scientific communities and the public) so as to balance the knowledge on the benefits and risks of any practice involving ionizing radiation.
Objectives of the Conference
The Conference will deal with the efforts to enhance data collection and disseminate scientific findings related to the issues of sources, effects and risks of the ionizing radiation, as well as to seek the way of communication among stakeholders (scientific communities, regulatory authorities, and general public) on those issues.
The Conference will have the following objectives, in particular:
- to identify emerging issues and needs that can prompt policy action;
- to identify tools for improving the data collection;
- to review the gaps of understanding on the radiation sources and its effects and risks between the authorities and scientific communities in one side, and the public in another side;
- to explore the coordination and collaborative works within countries