The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Rarotonga, was adopted in 1985, and the Treaty came into force with its eighth ratification on 11 December 1986. The zone now includes thirteen countries (Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu) and ten territories (Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, Heard and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island (Australia), Tokelau (New Zealand), French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna (France), Pitcairn Islands (United Kingdom), and American Samoa (United States)).
The Treaty bans the use, testing, and possession of nuclear weapons within the Zone. With the notable exception of the United States, all the nuclear-weapon states of the NPT have ratified the parts of the Treaty that apply to them.
During the first few decades of the Cold War, the South Pacific and surrounding regions experienced wide-ranging atmospheric and underwater testing, causing considerable concern. The first steps toward creating the Zone were taken in 1975, when New Zealand called for the establishment of a South Pacific Zone – an idea the UN General Assembly endorsed later that year. After a short period of inactivity, Australia took up the baton at a meeting of the South Pacific Forum in 1983. The efforts ultimately resulted in a draft Treaty being prepared by a working group and opened for signature two years later.
Australia is one of the few countries in the world to be part of both a nuclear umbrella and a NWFZ. The compatibility of these two commitments is disputed.
LEGAL DOCUMENTS: Treaty of Rarotonga
The South Pacific Nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty was opened for signature on August 6 1985. The treaty entered into force on 11 December 1986 and has been ratified by all 13 signatory states.
Southeast Asia became a nuclear-weapon-free zone in 1997, after a relatively long incubation period. The idea of a SEANWFZ dates back to 1971, when the original five members (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed a declaration on a Zone of Peace, Freedom, and Neutrality (ZOPFAN). None of the current ASEAN member states have ever possessed nuclear weapons, and a majority of the states condemned nuclear weapons before any concrete proposals for a Southeast Asia nuclear-weapon-free zone were advanced.
The establishment of the zone served to further consolidate the commitment of the states in the region to remain nuclear-weapon-free and to work collectively towards the achievement of a world without nuclear weapons. Over the years, several of the countries in the region have engaged actively in nuclear disarmament initiatives and continue to play key roles in multilateral political endeavours on this issue. The commitment to remain nuclear-weapon-free has also manifested itself in an active role in the current realignment of the international discourse on nuclear disarmament, away from the traditional state-based security perspective towards a discourse predicated on a recognition of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that any use of these weapons would have.
Introduction to the issue of nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia
This article provides an overview of the issue of nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia, with particular emphasis on the establishment of the Southeast Asia nuclear-weapon-free zone (SEANWFZ). The paper also considers the role of Southeast Asian states in the humanitarian discourse on nuclear disarmament and in international efforts to prohibit and eliminate all nuclear weapons.
ILPI roundtable discussion in Tagaytay, June 2014
On 3–4 June 2014, ILPI’s Nuclear Weapons Project organized its 7th regional roundtable meeting near Manila, the Philippines, in collaboration with the Center for Peace Education (CPE) at Miriam College and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
ILPI roundtable discussion in Yogyakarta, July 2013
ILPI’s 3rd Regional Roundtable on Nuclear Weapons was held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 10-11 July 2013. The meeting was organized in collaboration with the Institute for International Studies at the University of Gadjah Mada (IIS-UGM) and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). →
The Treaty of Bangkok
The Southeast Asia Nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty or the Bangkok treaty was signed on 15 December 1995. The treaty came into force on 28 March 1997 and has been ratified by all ten signatory states. →
14 February 2012 marked the 45th anniversary of the Signing of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and the creation of the first nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) in the inhabited world. The Treaty played a crucial role in pioneering the three fundamental pillars that would later be incorporated into the NPT: non-proliferation, disarmament and the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. In the words of former UN Secretary General U-Thant, The Tlatelolco Treaty was a “beacon of light” to the rest of the world that inspired the creation of further NWFZs that now cover the vast majority of the Southern hemisphere.
The Treaty of Tlatelolco established a solid legal base for the norm of non-proliferation in Latin America and moreover established flexible mechanisms for integrating outliers into the regime as and when the opportunities arose. This is how Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Cuba were eventually incorporated into the zone. Currently no Latin American or Caribbean states have nuclear weapons, and none have indicated intent to produce or acquire them. This provides Latin American and Caribbean states, both collectively and in national capacities, with a powerful role to play in the global efforts to prohibit and eliminate all nuclear weapons.
BACKGROUND PAPER: An introduction to the issue of nuclear eeapons in Latin America and the Caribbean
This article provides an overview of the issue of nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, with particular emphasis on the establishment of the Latin American and Caribbean nuclear-weapon-free zone, including some of the unusual terms of the treaty and on how the zone came to incorporate states that were initially reluctant to join. With this as a backdrop, the paper also considers the role of Latin American and Caribbean states in the ongoing efforts to prohibit and eliminate all nuclear weapons.
ILPI roundtable discussion in Punta del Este, Dec 2012
On 12-13 December 2012, International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI) convened a roundtable discussion in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in collaboration with Asociación de Lucha para el Desarme Civil (ALUDEC, Uruguay) and Asociación para Políticas Publicas (APP, Argentina). →
ILPI roundtable discussion in Montego Bay, Aug 2014
On 20–21 August 2014, ILPI’s Nuclear Weapons Project convened its 8th regional roundtable meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The meeting was organized in collaboration with the International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences at the University of the West Indies (ICENS-UWI) and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. →
LEGAL DOCUMENTS: Treaty of Tlatelolco
The treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean or the treaty Tlatelolco was the first treaty to declare a populated area a nuclear-weapon-free zone. The treaty was opened for signature on 14 February 1967, entered into force on 22 April 1968 and has been ratified by all 33 signatory states.
Africa became a nuclear-weapon-free zone in July 2009 when the Treaty of Pelindaba entered into force. The Treaty was the result of a protracted process dating back to the early 1960s when a nuclear-weaponfree zone was proposed as a response to French nuclear tests in the Sahara. There are currently no African states with nuclear weapons. South Africa did have a nuclear weapons programme and developed nuclear weapons, but the programme was dismantled in the early 1990s. South Africa is a unique case, being the only known country in the world to have voluntarily ended its nuclear programme after developing nuclear weapons. Several other African states are believed to have launched nuclear weapons programmes, but these were presumably ended before any nuclear weapons were produced.
Notwithstanding the African nuclear-weapon-free zone Treaty, Africa as a regional block has not, to date, been a significant actor in the international discourse addressing the elimination of nuclear weapons. Still, Africa could potentially play an important role in this debate, partly due to its demographic weight of 1 billion people and its voting block of 54 states in international bodies and partly due to its status as a region that has already banned nuclear weapons. Hence, if African states engage on an issue, they could play a significant role, as has been demonstrated through the processes of negotiating the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
ILPI roundtable discussion in Nairobi, December 2013
On 10-11 December, 2013, ILPI’s Nuclear Weapons Project organized its 5th regional roundtable meeting on nuclear weapons in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting was organized in collaboration with the Africa Peace Forum (APFO) and closely coordinated with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). →
ILPI roundtable discussion in Lagos, November 2013
On 13-14 November, 2013, ILPI’s Nuclear Weapons Project (NWP) organized its 4th regional roundtable meeting on nuclear weapons, in Lagos, Nigeria, in collaboration with ICAN, as well as three Nigerian NGOs (Churches in Action for Peace and Development – CAPAD, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – WILPF, and International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA).→
ILPI roundtable discussion in Addis Ababa, June 2012
From 5 – 6 June 2012, International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI) convened a roundtable discussion in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in collaboration with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), in order to discuss the potential role of African States and civil society in the efforts to prohibit nuclear weapons, building on their experiences in other campaigns and multilateral processes. →
An introduction to the issue of nuclear weapons in Africa
This article provides an overview of the issue of nuclear weapons and Africa, with particular emphasis on the process that led to the establishment of an African nuclear-weapon-free zone. The role of African states in international disarmament processes is discussed. So are relevant bodies and groupings with a bearing on disarmament policies that African states participate in. A selection of African states’ experiences and positions with regards to nuclear weapons are also explored. The article ends with an outline of possible future prospects of African states’ engagement for a world free of nuclear weapons.
Treaty of Pelindaba
The African Nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty or the treaty of Pelindaba was opened for signature on 11 April 1996. The treaty came into force on 15 July 2009 and has been ratified by 30 of 51 signatory states. Treaty of Pelindaba (treaty … →