The International Atomic Energy Agency has statutory functions for the development of radiation safety standards. Its basic safety standards have, for many years, been based on the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, taking account of the information on the biological effects of radiation exposure provided by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. The latest version – the International Basic Safety Standards – was published in its final form in 1996, and, since then the Agency has been assisting with their implementation in a large number of States. The experience gained, combined with a more general reflection on these Standards, has led to the identification of a number of issues that will need to be considered in any future revision. A number of these issues arise largely through an insufficient recognition of the problems associated with turning the principles of protection into regulatory style requirements, which, out of necessity, need to be legally precise, but at the same time, enforceable. Some of these issues are discussed here.