The World Council of Churches salutes Africa’s new nuclear-weapon-free status. A September 2009 statement highlights the new treaty as a sign of hope for nuclear disarmament.
The Treaty of Pelindaba was ratified in July when Burundi recently became the 28th state to join. The WCC has been sending delegations to African states to encourage the step. The addition of 54 countries in Africa means that 116 nations are now within treaty zones banning nuclear weapons.
“We ask that Russia and the US join China, Britain and France in ratifying the treaty protocols that give Africa added protections. Africa’s success demonstrates the new leadership of a 116-country world majority in protecting national territory from nuclear dangers. The Southern Hemisphere and much of the global South thus send an urgent signal to the nuclear-dominated north.”
Developed after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of apartheid, the Treaty of Pelindaba is an example of the collective capacity to work toward a world without nuclear weapons.
First, Pelindaba is the place where the white-minority government of South Africa developed the only nuclear arsenal in the southern hemisphere, which the new black-majority government then abandoned.
Second, many states in Africa bear the scars of Cold War conflicts fueled by foreign rivalries and fought with imported weapons. The treaty now in force bans the import, development, deployment, testing and use, anywhere on the continent, of the most destructive weapons in existence.
Like managing climate change, effective control over nuclear weapons requires solutions that work across national borders. “In threatening life on our planet, [climate change and nuclear weapons] pose a unique challenge to people of faith,” says a 2008 report on WCC work in this field. Meeting each of those threats will require a more human-centered understanding of international security.”
The church initiative for the Pelindaba Treaty stems from a 2006 WCC Assembly recommendation to support Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones. WCC member churches have been united in their opposition to nuclear arms for more than 60 years.
11 September 2009