The Vienna International Centre, home to the IAEA. (UN Photo/Mark Garten)
The Vienna International Centre, home to the IAEA. (UN Photo/Mark Garten)

In the Hollywood film business, distributors put their bets on summer blockbusters – big movie releases by the July 4 US holiday weekend. From Jaws in 1975 to The Avengers in 2012, these cinema titans are usually accompanied by a blitz of publicity to drive ticket sales.

We don’t usually work that way in the think-tank business: research reports emerge when they happen to be good and ready. That’s after a long period of deep research, an intensive episode of writing to produce a first draft, a round of thorough and scholarly peer review, more writing, a cycle of careful editing and design – and then finally, the release. 

Each phase has its own natural rhythm, and don’t try to hurry the researchers to their conclusions, just to meet a deadline. This ain’t Hollywood, and we’re not expecting higher returns in the summer doldrums, when many policy makers in the global North tend to take their vacations.   

And yet, as it just so happens, CIGI is releasing a summer blockbuster, today.

It’s a report by CIGI Senior Fellow Trevor Findlay, based on his independent review of the outfit that keeps an eye on the worldwide nuclear industry – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), founded in 1957 and a bit creaky with age.

Findlay’s report is called Unleashing the Nuclear Watchdog: Strengthening and Reform of the IAEA. You can devour the whole remarkable thing at our website, or you can check out the condensed policy brief; it’s a speedy read.

In summary, Findlay declares the IAEA to be an essential tool of international governance – in a dangerous industry that brought us Chernobyl, Fukushima, and nuclear weapons threats in North Korea and Iran. The IAEA proves to be one of the most effective organizations in the UN family, and has come a long way in 55 years, seizing new opportunities and deftly handling several international crises.

But Findlay also uncovers the IAEA’s weaknesses and calls for specific reforms to its governance, management and finances. To do its job properly, for example, the IAEA needs a new strategic plan, modern information technology and more money from member nations.

CIGI is putting on the Ritz for this report, because it’s one of the best things to emerge from CIGI’s research ranks this year – a tour de force of rigorous investigation, analysis and policy prescription.

Our plans include a multi-city tour to present the findings, including the first splash in Vienna today, just down the road from the IAEA headquarters. Hosted by the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, Findlay launched his report to an invited high-level audience of nuclear experts, observers and media. CIGI Communications Specialist Kevin Dias was there, to help manage the show.

Next stops include: a briefing tomorrow at Chatham House in London; a public address and a global webcast in Waterloo on June 21 (you can register at this link); a briefing in Washington on June 22; and future events being planned for Boston and Ottawa.

We’re sending the report to a global list of journalists who cover nuclear issues (top news agencies have already lined up for interviews of Findlay, and the Reuter s report is in), as well as to scholars and policy experts. We’re posting an e-book format with various vendors of those publications, for sale at the lowest price they’ll permit – and it’s still free at our own site in PDF format.

And for people who like their information in video format, we’ve created a special interactive feature at this online site. We’re sending the link to teachers of nuclear studies, hoping students will find it a useful way to learn about Findlay’s report and the IAEA’s history – check out the succinct timeline.

So pass the popcorn. We’re not expecting to outdraw Marvel’s The Avengers for popular audience share this June or July. But given the safety and security risks posed by the nuclear industry, CIGI’s own summer blockbuster has an infinitely better chance than the fictional comic book heroes to help protect the real world from harm.

The IAEA proves to be one of the most effective organizations in the UN family, and has come a long way in 55 years, seizing new opportunities and deftly handling several international crises.
The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.