The Treaty of Pelindaba: Establishing the African Commission on Nuclear Energy

Established in November 2010, AFCONE is required by the Pelindaba Treaty to ensure treaty obligation compliance and peaceful nuclear cooperation, regionally and internationally.

Following the 2009 entry into force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty — the Treaty of Pelindaba — the inaugural Conference of State Parties (CSP) was held at the African Union Headquarters, in Addis Ababa, in November 2010

The Conference established the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) by electing its twelve members and agreeing that the location of its headquarters will be in South Africa. The Commission members are: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritius, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia. The state parties at the Conference also agreed to hold the next CSP within six months to take the required decisions on the structure, budget, and program of activities of AFCONE.

The Treaty of Pelindaba requires parties to establish AFCONE for the purpose of ensuring states’ compliance with their treaty obligations and promoting peaceful nuclear cooperation, regionally and internationally. According to the Treaty, the Commission shall be responsible for: collating reports and the exchange of information; arranging consultations; convening conferences (with a simple majority of state parties) on any matter arising from the implementation of the Treaty; reviewing the application to peaceful nuclear activities of safeguards by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); handling complaints procedures related to the Treaty; encouraging regional and sub-regional programs for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology; and promoting international cooperation with extra-zonal states for the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. The Commission will meet in ordinary session once a year, and may meet in extraordinary session as required.

For over three years, with the generous support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of international Studies in California, USA and the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa have been working to assist African states to bring the Treaty into force and ensure its effective implementation. The two institutes have provided expert advice and briefings for the African government officials and nongovernmental organizations in Monterey, New York, Geneva, Vienna, and at numerous meetings on the African continent.

On 18-19 March 2010, CNS and ISS organized an international expert workshop in Pretoria to discuss key issues with respect to the establishment of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy and explore ways that African governments could benefit from the activities of the regional institution beyond the current IAEA technical cooperation programs. The workshop was a forum for about 40 participants representing AU member states, extra-zonal states, academia, international organizations and civil society organizations. A report of the meeting was produced and circulated to African states prior to the November Inaugural Conference of States Parties. It included information on the operational modalities of the Commission.

Beyond the creation of the organization, African governments party to the Treaty have committed to provide administrative, financial, and political support necessary for the organization to meet its objectives and goals. CNS and ISS will continue to provide expert advice and briefings on the nature, tasks, and roles of the Commission by conducting research, organizing workshops and conferences.

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