Representatives from 37 African states have gathered in Pretoria at the African Regional Seminar on the Universalisation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) to discuss how to get every African state to sign and ratify the UN nuclear ban treaty as soon as possible.
The two day Seminar, co-hosted by South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), ICAN, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, will serve to take stock of the TPNW from a regional perspective and consider the need for further progress towards universalisation of the treaty on the continent.
This week, International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister, Mr @alvinbotes is participating in the African Regional Seminar on the Universalisation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) where he has also made remarks. pic.twitter.com/rFh8MAFbzz
— DIRCO South Africa (@DIRCO_ZA) January 30, 2023
African countries have been long-time leaders on nuclear disarmament. The continent is a nuclear-weapon-free zone under the Treaty of Pelindaba, and the TPNW enjoys strong support from all the countries in the region. So far 33 African UN member states out of 54 have signed the TPNW and 15 have ratified it.
While opening the Seminar, Deputy Minister of DIRCO, Mr Alvin Botes, highlighted South Africa’s history as one of the few states to start developing and then fully dismantle its nuclear arsenals to being an active supporter of the TPNW. “South Africa’s own experience has shown that neither the possession nor the pursuit of nuclear weapons can enhance international peace and security. The continued retention of nuclear weapons based on the perceived security interests of some states comes at the expense of the rest of humanity.” He also called on all African states “to sign and ratify the TPNW at the earliest possible opportunity and thus reassert Africa’s leadership in nuclear disarmament and contributing to international peace and security.”
ICAN’s Executive Director Beatrice Fihn also highlighted this leadership during the opening speeches:“African states are rightly proud of the role they played in the TPNW’s negotiation and adoption. Support for the treaty in this region is universal, even if much work remains to be done to bring all states on board as parties,” calling on the 21 states that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the treaty. She also celebrated African civil society for their tireless efforts to raise public awareness of the TPNW and promote its universalisation.
A number of ICAN partner organisations are represented at the meeting, and ICAN campaigners have been delivering presentations about the TPNW’s status, and campaign activities throughout Africa, as well as engaging with representatives of the countries that have yet to sign the treaty to make it a priority.
We’re in Pretoria🇿🇦! We’re meeting w/ some of our amazing African partners to discuss how to promote the #nuclearban in the region and get more countries on board.
🤩We’re excited to continue Africa’s nuclear disarmament leadership with our partners, old and new. pic.twitter.com/ZetyQxThq8
— ICAN (@nuclearban) January 29, 2023