South Africa commits to UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons

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South Africa this week became the 22nd state in the world to submit its ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) to the United Nations.

“South Africa’s ratification of the TPNW sends a positive signal of our continued commitment towards the achievement of a world free from the threat posed by nuclear weapons and ensuring nuclear energy is used solely for peaceful purposes,” South African Minister of international Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu said in a statement to mark submission of the country’s instrument of ratification.

The TPNW was adopted at UN headquarters in July 2017 and opened for signature in September the same year. South Africa, according to the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, signed the treaty during a signing ceremony on the margins of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

The TPNW will enter into force 90 days after 50 states ratify or accede to it.

The TPNW seeks to establish an international norm, de-legitimising and stigmatising possession of nuclear weapons. It aims to contribute towards achieving the objective set out in the first ever resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1946 to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction.

The Treaty complements other international instruments contributing toward fulfilling nuclear disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the objectives of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and other nuclear weapon-free zone treaties, such as the Pelindaba Treaty banning nuclear weapons in Africa.

“Given its unique history, as the first country to eliminate all its nuclear weapons, South Africa is proud to have played a leading role in this process with a majority of States and members of civil society who actively contributed to the process and the adoption of this Treaty,” Sisulu said.

“While we celebrate this historic achievement, we are aware much work remains to be done to achieve the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

“Beyond the entry into force of this Treaty and working towards its universalisation, we will not relent in efforts to secure full implementation of commitments made by State Parties in fulfilment of their NPT obligations, particularly nuclear disarmament, neglected for too long.”