Treaty of Pelindaba
Visual illustration of the African NWFZ
Image source: United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs
The African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, also known as the “Pelindaba Treaty”, established the nuclear-weapon-free zone on the African continent. It opened for signature on 12 April 1996 in Cairo, Egypt and entered into force on 15 July 2009.
The African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty prohibits the research, development, manufacture, stockpiling, acquisition, testing, possession, control or stationing of nuclear weapons, as well as the dumping of radioactive wastes. The Treaty also prohibits any attack against nuclear installations in the zone by Treaty parties and requires them to maintain the highest standards of physical protection of nuclear material, facilities and equipment, which are to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.
Nothing in the Treaty shall be interpreted as preventing the use of nuclear sciences and technology for peaceful purposes. As part of their efforts to strengthen their security, stability and development, the Parties to Pelindaba Treaty undertake to promote individually and collectively the use of nuclear science and technology for economic and social development. To this end they undertake to establish and strengthen mechanisms for cooperation at the bilateral, sub regional and regional levels.
The Treaty requires all parties to apply full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to all their peaceful nuclear activities.
Nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy are therefore firmly entrenched in the Pelindaba Treaty.
Full text of the Pelindaba Treaty is available at the UN Disarmament Treaties Database: http://disarmament.un.org/treaties/t/pelindaba
The Pelindaba Treaty has 43 States Parties:
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Chad, Comoros, Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
In addition, the following 51 African States have signed the Pelindaba Treaty:
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Internal coordination mechanisms
For the purpose of ensuring compliance with their undertakings under this Treaty, the Parties agreed to establish the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) with headquarters in Pretoria, South Africa.
AFCONE, as the main executive body of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty, is the African Union’s Specialised Agency for nuclear activities on the continent. AFCONE comprises 12 States Parties that serve for three-year terms and report to the Conference of States Parties.
The Commission is responsible inter alia for:
(a) Collating reports and exchange of information,
(b) Arranging consultations, as well as convening conferences of Parties on the concurrence of simple majority of States Parties on any matter arising from the implementation of the Treaty;
(c) Reviewing the application of peaceful nuclear activities in accordance with safeguards by IAEA;
(d) Bringing into effect the complaints procedure;
(e) Encouraging regional and sub-regional programmes on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology;
(f) Promoting international cooperation with extra-zonal States for the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology.
Current activity and priorities
The AFCONE Strategy adopted by the 4th Conference of States Parties in 2018 is as follows:
- Priority given to the most pressing needs of the States Parties: peaceful nuclear applications, radioactive waste management, safety, security and safeguards;
- Capacity building in Africa: establish a critical mass of specialized teams and African experts, in each of the fields of activities related to the provisions of the Pelindaba Treaty;
- Make full use of the infrastructure, already available in Africa (research centers, institutes and universities, agencies, institutions), recognized (at regional and/or international level) for their excellence;
- Optimal synergy and maximum cooperation with all regional and international partners considering the parameters: convergence of objectives, complementarity of activities (avoiding duplication) and optimization of human and financial resources.
In order to foster the cooperation and strengthen the coordination with the other Nuclear Weapon Free Zones, AFCONE is currently consulting OPANAL (Treaty of Tlatelolco) and the Central Asian NWFZ for the Signature of Memorandum on Cooperation.