The Pelindaba Treaty

The African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, was adopted by the 31st Ordinary Session of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), held in Addis Ababa from 26 to 28 June 1995. The Treaty was opened for signature in Cairo, Egypt, on 11 April 1996, and  entered into force on 15 July 2009. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) is the depository of the Treaty.

The Treaty of Pelindaba came as a result of efforts extending over three decades, following the adoption of the Declaration on the Denuclearization of Africa, by the 1st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the OAU, held in Cairo, from 17 to 21 July 1964.

Pursuant to this Treaty, Each Party undertakes to renounce nuclear explosive devices, particularly not to conduct research on, develop, manufacture, stockpile or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over any nuclear explosive device by any means anywhere; not to seek or receive any assistance to these ends.

The Parties also undertake to prohibit the stationing of nuclear explosive devices and the testing of any nuclear explosive devices on their territory. The Treaty further prohibits the dumping of radioactive wastes, and requires State Parties to declare, dismantle, destroy or convert nuclear explosive devices and facilities for their manufacture under IAEA verification.

Under the Pelindaba Treaty, each State Party undertakes to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA, to use nuclear science and technology for exclusively peaceful purposes under strict non-proliferation measures, and not to export source or special fissionable material, or especially designed or prepared equipment or material, to NNWSs unless subject to a comprehensive safeguards agreement.

The Treaty also prohibits attacks against nuclear installations in the Zone by the 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 of Pelindaba is an important pillar of the global efforts to completely eliminate existing nuclear weapons and prevent their proliferation, as enshrined in the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). 

Associated with this Treaty are three protocols:

Protocols I and II commit States Parties not to use or threaten to use a nuclear explosive device against any territory within the Zone, as well as not to undertake, assist or encourage the testing of any nuclear explosive device anywhere within the Zone. Protocols I and II are open for signature by the following five NPT nuclear-weapon states: China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States. China, France, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have signed and ratified Protocols I and II, while the United States, which has signed these Protocols, is yet to ratify them.    

Protocol III, which is open for signature by France and Spain, concerns the territories for which they are de jure or de facto internationally responsible for, and which are situated within the Zone. The Protocol commits them not to contribute to any act that constitutes a violation of the Treaty. France has signed and ratified Protocol III, while Spain has neither signed nor ratified it.