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Congratulating Africa on the 10th anniversary of the Pelindaba Treaty, don't forget the CTBT!

17 Jul 2019 at 08:11hrs | Views
Today, Africa is celebrating its tenth anniversary since the African Nuclear Weapon-Free-Zone treaty also referred to as the Pelindaba Treaty entered into force. The Pelindaba Treaty is a continental treaty that was adopted by African States, and its main objective is to prevent horizontal and vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons on the continent. Not only does the treaty prohibit the acquisition, development, test, or stowage of the nuclear devices by an African State, it also calls upon nuclear States to neither equip any Member State with nuclear devices, nor to dump radioactive wastes on the African territory.

The Pelindaba treaty was initiated by the Organisation of the African Unity during the heads of States Summit at Cairo in 1964, with the aim to have a nuclear free Africa. It entered into force on 15 July 2009 and currently has forty-one ratifications.

The Pelindaba treaty shares features with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which is a treaty that aims to ban nuclear explosions anywhere in the world, and by anyone. Both treaties are inspired by the reduction of nuclear tests, which contribute to overcome international security challenges.  African States have massively adhered to the treaty as forty-six African States have so far ratified the CTBT. Some have ratified the Pelindaba treaty but are yet to ratify the CTBT. Action from them is awaited. Dr Lassina Zerbo, the Executive Secretary of the CTBTO says, "for Africa which has already banned nuclear weapons via Pelindaba Treaty, embracing the CTBT should come naturally". Another group of ten countries have ratified the CTBT, but they have not ratified the Pelindaba Treaty.

These achievements highlight that African States have the will to help put an end to nuclear explosions. It is not late for "hold out" countries to join the others in this global battle.

The CTBT, once in force, is one of the key resources for the Pelindaba treaty due to the latter's verification system including monitoring facilities, infrasound stations, radionuclide stations and laboratories, and seismic stations, that are located in different areas on the continent. In 2003, Kofi Annan reiterated that the CTBT is "a crucial element in the non-proliferation regime". He later added that, ‘'the longer its entry into force is delayed, the more likely that nuclear testing will resume".

African States have understood that an explosion of any nuclear device causes concerns for the global security. Explosions cause health issues due to radioactive fallout that take multiple decades to disappear. Communities are forced to abandon their land and dislodge as the environment becomes a radioactive zone.

All countries have the responsibility to contribute to halt nuclear testing. Africa has an even more important role as the continent that will witness the most rapid demographic and development transformation over the next decades. Without peace, none of the SDGs goals would be achieved. Indispensable collective goals such as food security and access to clean water become unattainable in a world where nuclear tests are permissible.
All African States need to fully participate in order to plead for decisions that can not only be beneficial to themselves, but also to the entire world.

Three weeks ago, a young Namibian, Jana Swanepoel, won a prize for her splendid artwork that she had drawn in reconnaissance of the work of CTBTO. This is an achievement of African States. They have the potential to change the world, and they can only achieve this by getting involved in all the processes, and in this context, a full participation, and a spirit of ownership is required to ban nuclear explosions.

The education of younger generations about such treaties is required to ensure young people know the significance of banning nuclear test has for the future.

Source - Idriss Irakoze
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