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Nuclear disarmament: how Africa can play a role in securing a nuclear weapons free world

Nuclear disarmament: how Africa can play a role in securing a nuclear weapons free world, The Conversation October 22, 2021 Joelien Pretorius, Associate Professor in Political Studies, University of the Western Cape.

Why should African states and people be concerned about nuclear disarmament? After all, there are no nuclear weapons on the continent. South Africa, the only African nation to have had nuclear weapons, gave them up in 1989, and Libya stopped its nuclear weapons programme in 2003.

Today, all African states bar South Sudan are members of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. And enough support for the Pelindaba Treaty, an agreement among African states that prohibits the acquisition, stockpiling, testing and other activities that promote nuclear weapons or assist in their production, has turned the continent into a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.

Nuclear weapons may seem to be an issue far removed from Africa’s immediate security concerns, which is rather centred on small arms, intra-state conflict and human security issues. Nevertheless, nuclear disarmament should still be high on the priority list of African states’ foreign policy pursuits.

Nuclear weapons matter to every country in the world because they pose a threat on three grounds. Firstly, nations that have them are disregarding arms control agreements. Secondly, they are pursuing technologies that have increased the risk of nuclear war in an era of increasing geopolitical tension – particularly between China, the US and Russia. Thirdly, nuclear war poses an existential threat to everyone.

African countries have a role to play in promoting a total ban on nuclear weapons. They can throw their diplomatic weight behind the calls to eliminate them and use the power of their numbers to strengthen the pressure on nuclear-armed states to disarm.

The danger nuclear weapons pose………………….

African states and civil society played an important role in the Ban Treaty process, but need to keep the momentum by asserting Africa’s role on this issue. They can do so by prioritising nuclear disarmament in their foreign policy, creating awareness among Africans that nuclear disarmament is a worthy cause.

They should also encourage more states to join the treaty, especially African states – only nine are members. With every state that joins, the value of the Ban Treaty grows. African states and people can also participate in transnational networks to stigmatise nuclear weapons, with a view to extending the Ban Treaty’s legal reach to include nuclear armed states.

October 23, 2021 - Posted by | AFRICA, weapons and war

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