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African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty (ANWFZ)

Note: The Headquarters of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE), as envisaged by the Treaty, is to be situated in South Africa once the Treaty enters into force.

The Declaration on the Denuclearisation of Africa adopted by the Summit of the Organization of African Unity in 1964 formed the basis for work towards the conclusion of the African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty opened for signature at Cairo, Egypt on 11 April 1996. At this Summit, African States declared their readiness to undertake, through an international agreement to be concluded under United Nations auspices, not to manufacture or acquire control of nuclear weapons.

The African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty was approved in June 1995 by the 31st Ordinary Session of the OAU Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and it was subsequently endorsed by the 50th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Treaty declares Africa a zone free of nuclear weapons, thus constituting an important step towards the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime, the promotion of co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, general and complete disarmament and the enhancement of regional and international peace and security. Unlike many nuclear –weapon- free -zone regimes of the Cold-War era, this Treaty distinguishes itself because of its wide scope.

The African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty is also known as the "Pelindaba Treaty", as it was adopted at Pelindaba, site of the then Atomic Energy Corporation (AEC) of South Africa on 2 June 1995. The name "Pelindaba" was particularly appropriate when the draft was adopted as the name originates from the Zulu words "iphelile indaba", which roughly translates into "the matter/ discussion is closed/settled". The headquarters of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE), as envisaged by the Treaty, is to be situated in South Africa.

The relevant Protocols to the Pelindaba Treaty have been signed by all the nuclear-weapon-states, and the Treaty will enter into force upon the date of the deposit of the twenty-eighth Instrument of Ratification.

Inspite of its good intention and wide scope, as of 31 December 1999, only eleven African countries (Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe) had ratified the Treaty and thirty-nine countries had signed it. In an effort to rectify this situation, the African Union together with other interested countries within the United Nations, has participated in drafting a bi-annual resolution in the First Committee (Disarmament) on the Pelindaba Treaty which inter-alia calls on the constituent states of the African Union to sign and /or ratify the Treaty.

The Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity (Chair of the AU Commission) is the depository of the Pelindaba Treaty.


In terms of the Protocols to the Treaty, the Nuclear Weapon States should, inter alia, undertake not to use or threaten to use a nuclear explosive device against Parties to the Treaty (Protocol I), and not to test any nuclear explosive devices within the African nuclear weapon-free zone (Protocol II).

Protocol III of the Treaty was open for signature by France and Spain, as non-African countries that are "de jure" or "de facto" internationally responsible for a territory within the African nuclear weapon-free zone. Spain has yet to sign the Protocol.