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     Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones      NW states      Nuclear sharing      NPT only
Nations that have ratified the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty are shown in green. The remaining states of the African Union are shown in yellow; they and Morocco have signed but not ratified.

The African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, establishes a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Africa. The treaty was signed in 1996 and came into effect with the 28th ratification on 15 July 2009.


Treaty Outline

The Treaty prohibits the research, development, manufacture, stockpiling, acquisition, testing, possession, control or stationing of nuclear explosive devices in the territory of parties to the Treaty and the dumping of radioactive wastes in the African zone by Treaty parties. 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. The Treaty requires all parties to apply full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to all their peaceful nuclear activities. A mechanism to verify compliance, including the establishment of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy, has been established by the Treaty. Its office will be in South Africa.[1] The Treaty affirms the right of each party to decide for itself whether to allow visits by foreign ships and aircraft to its ports and airfields, explicitly upholds the freedom of navigation on the high seas and does not affect rights to passage through territorial waters guaranteed by international law.

Area of application

"African nuclear-weapon-free zone" means the territory of the continent of Africa, island states that are members of OAU, and all islands considered by the Organization of African Unity in its resolutions to be part of Africa; "Territory" means the land territory, internal waters, territorial seas and archipelagic waters and the airspace above them as well as the seabed and subsoil beneath. [2]

The African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (ANWFZ) covers the entire African continent as well as the following islands: Agalega Island, Bassas da India, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Cargados Carajos Shoals, Chagos Archipelago - Diego Garcia, Comoros, Europa Island, Juan de Nova, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Prince Edward & Marion Islands, São Tomé and Príncipe, Réunion, Rodrigues Island, Seychelles, Tromelin Island, and Zanzibar & Pemba Islands. [3]

This list does not mention the mid-ocean islands of St. Helena 1,900 km west from southern Angola[4] or its dependencies including Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, Bouvet Island 2,500 km southwest from Cape Town, the Crozet Islands 2,350 km south of Madagascar, Kerguelen, or Île Amsterdam and Île Saint-Paul, which are the only Southern Hemisphere lands not in any of the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones.


The quest for a nuclear free Africa began when the Organization of African Unity formally stated its desire for a Treaty ensuring the denuclearization of Africa at its first Summit in Cairo in July 1964. The Treaty was opened for signature on 11 April 1996 in Cairo, Egypt. All the States of Africa are eligible to become parties to the Treaty, which will enter into force upon its 28th ratification; the Protocols with also come into force at that time for those Protocol signatories that have deposited their instruments of ratification. It was reported in 1996 that no African Arab state would ratify the Treaty until Israel renounces its nuclear weapons program.[5] However, Algeria, Libya and Mauritania have since ratified the Treaty. The United Nations General Assembly has passed without a vote identical resolutions in 1997 (twice)[6][7], 1999[8], 2001[9], 2003[10], and 2005[11] calling upon African States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty as soon as possible so that it may enter into force without delay, and for States contemplated in Protocol III to take all necessary measures to ensure its speedy application. A resolution had been passed in 1995 in support of the final text of the Treaty.[12]


Year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Ratifications 2 0 6 3 3 2 1 2 0 1 1 3 2 2

As of 15 July 2009 (2009 -07-15), the Treaty had 28 ratifications[13][14], and entered into force on that date. The ratifying countries are Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique[15], Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland,Tanzania, Togo, and Zimbabwe.[16]

24 African Union countries have signed but not yet ratified.[17] They are: Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Namibia, Niger, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sao Tome & Principe, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. In addition the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic government in exile is a member of the African Union but has not ratified. [18] Morocco left the OAU in 1984 but signed the treaty in 1996. It has not ratified.

Nuclear weapons states and the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone

The Treaty has three Protocols.

Under Protocol I, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and the People's Republic of China are invited to agree not to use or threaten to use a nuclear explosive device against any Treaty party or against any territory of a Protocol III party within the African zone.
Under Protocol II, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation and China are invited to agree not to test or assist or encourage the testing of a nuclear explosive device anywhere within the African zone.
Protocol III is open to states with dependent territories in the zone and obligates them to observe certain provisions of the Treaty with respect to these territories; only Spain and France may become Parties to it.

As of 12 August 2009 (2009 -08-12), the United Kingdom, France and China have signed and ratified the Protocols, but the Russian Federation and the United States are yet to ratify.[18]

The United States has supported the concept of the denuclearization of Africa since the first United Nations General Assembly resolution on this issue in 1965 and has played an active role in drafting the final text of the Treaty and Protocols. The United States and Russian Federation signed the treaty in 1996, but have not ratified their obligations as nuclear weapons states under Protocol I and Protocol II of the Treaty.

Russia has not ratified the Treaty because the status of the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, controlled by the United Kingdom and used as a military base by the United States, with regard to the Treaty is unclear. Diego Garcia is part of the Chagos Archipelago claimed by Mauritius. The other islands of the Chagos Archipelago are considered in Africa and are under the treaty, but neither the United States nor the United Kingdom recognizes Diego Garcia as being subject to the Treaty.[19][20]


To allow for the verification of its nuclear non-proliferation undertaking, the Treaty requires parties to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA equivalent to the agreements required in connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Twenty-one States in Africa have yet to bring such agreements into force. The IAEA encourages them to bring these agreements into force as soon as possible.[21]

According to Article 12 (Mechanism for compliance) of the Treaty, after entry-into-force, the Parties agree to establish an African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE). In addition to being a compliance mechanism, the Commission will be responsible for encouraging regional and sub-regional programmes for co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. The establishment of AFCONE would also: encourage African states to take responsibility for their natural resources, and in particular nuclear material; and protect against the dumping of toxic waste.[18]


  1. ^ "African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty". Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa. Retrieved 2006-07-28.  
  2. ^ IAEA: Pelindaba Text of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty
  3. ^ Noel Scott, Amelia du Rand, and Jean du Preez (October 2008). "A Brief Guide to the Pelindaba Treaty: Towards Entry-into-Force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty". Arms Management Program, Institute for Security Studies.  
  4. ^
  5. ^ Captain Mark E. Rosen, U.S. Navy (Fall 1997). "Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones: Time for a fresh look" (). Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law 8 (1): 29–78. Retrieved 2006-07-28.  
  6. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution session 51 (retrieved 2007-08-23)
  7. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution session 52 (retrieved 2007-08-23)
  8. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution session 54 (retrieved 2007-08-23)
  9. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution session 56 (retrieved 2007-08-23)
  10. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution session 58 (retrieved 2007-08-23)
  11. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution session 60 (retrieved 2007-08-23)
  12. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution session 50 (retrieved 2007-08-23)
  13. ^ chronological order by deposit
  14. ^ order
  15. ^ CNS - The Race Towards Entry Into Force of the Pelindaba Treaty: Mozambique Leading the Charge - March 31, 2008 - Feature Story
  16. ^ African Union (2008-03-17) (PDF). List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone Treaty. Retrieved 2008-07-10.  
  17. ^ "Africa officially a nuclear-weapons-free zone". Earth Times. 2009-08-12.,africa-officially-a-nuclear-weapons-free-zone.html.  
  18. ^ a b c "ISS Today: Africa Is Now Officially A Zone Free Of Nuclear Weapons".  
  19. ^ "Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones At a Glance". Arms Control Association. Retrieved 2006-07-28.  
  20. ^ Sand, Peter H. (29 January 2009), "Diego Garcia: British–American Legal Black Hole in the Indian Ocean?", Journal of Environmental Law (Oxford Journals) 21 (1): 113–137, doi:10.1093/jel/eqn034,, retrieved 2009-08-18  
  21. ^ "IAEA: Africa Renounces Nukes". ISRIA. 2009-08-16.  

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