Regional conference on nuclear disarmament gets underway

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The adoption of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will be in the spotlight at the African Regional Conference on Nuclear Disarmament and Lethal Autonomous Weapons, which gets underway in Pretoria this morning.  

The conference brings together members of the diplomatic corps, international organisations and civil society to engage on ways and means of taking forward the landmark adoption of the TPNW on 7 July 2017, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said on Wednesday.

The treaty is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination.

The adoption of the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons is a historic achievement, given that the elimination of weapons of mass destruction has been on the multilateral agenda for more than 70 years since the adoption of the very first resolution by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946.

Participants at the conference will also examine the prospect of the development of weapons, which once activated, could select and engage targets without human control. This category of weapons has been termed Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS).

Furthermore, discussions will focus on the range of humanitarian, ethical, legal and technological considerations pertaining to such weapons.

The conference -- which is hosted by the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and DIRCO -- will be addressed by DIRCO Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers this morning.

The regional conference is a contribution to South Africa's active involvement in international disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control efforts aimed at the creation of a safer and better world for all.

South Africa, the only country in the world to dismantle nuclear weapons it developed, has already been a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons since 1991. -