STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE AFRICAN GROUP
AMBASSADOR MICHEL XAVIER BIANG
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF GABON
CHAIR OF THE AFRICAN GROUP FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER
THE HIGH-LEVEL PLENARY MEETING OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO COMMEMORATE AND PROMOTE THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE TOTAL ELIMINATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
NEW YORK, TUESDAY, 28 SEPTEMBER 2021
Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the African Group.
2. The Group associates itself with the Statement of the Non-Aligned Movement and wishes to make the following remarks.
3. The total elimination of nuclear weapons remains the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use. In this context, the Group reiterates the urgent need for our planet to be free of nuclear weapons, as their presence constitutes a grave threat to global peace and security and an existential threat to humanity.
4. Africa supports the principle of complete nuclear disarmament, as the utmost prerequisite for maintaining international peace and security. It is in this spirit that the African Group welcomed the adoption of the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), on 7 July 2017. The African Group stresses that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons does not undermine the NPT, but rather complements and strengthens the nuclear non-proliferation regime with the NPT as its foundation. The Group calls on all member states, especially the Nuclear-Weapon States and those under the so-called “nuclear umbrella”, to seize this opportunity and pursue the goal of a nuclear-free world by signing and ratifying this important treaty.
5. For the African Group, the highest priority for the United Nations should remain nuclear disarmament and achieving the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which is
the overall objective of the NPT. The Group restates its deep concern over the slow pace of progress by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals in accordance with their legal obligations and undertakings under Article VI of the NPT and the various relevant agreed outcomes of the NPT Review Conference. The Group, therefore, insists on the implementation of all agreed measures and undertakings by the nuclear weapons States in the context of the Treaty.
6. The Group re-affirms the contribution of nuclear-weapon-free zones across the world to the overall objectives of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They represent a significant milestone towards achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives, thereby enhancing global and regional peace and security.
7. In this context, the African Group reiterates its commitment to the Treaty of Pelindaba, which re-affirms the status of Africa as a nuclear-weapon-free zone and as a shield for the African territory, including by preventing the stationing of nuclear explosive devices on the continent and prohibiting testing of those weapons on the African continent.
8. The African Group reiterates its deep concern regarding the lack of implementation of the commitments and obligations of the 1995 NPT Review Conference Resolution on the Middle East regarding the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.
9. The Group recalls the convening of the first session of the United Nations Conference on the Establishment of a Zone free of Nuclear Weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East under the auspices of the United Nations pursuant to General Assembly Decision 73/546 to negotiate a legally-binding
treaty on the establishment of the nuclear-free zone. The Group welcomes the successful outcomes of that session as reflected in the report of the UN Secretary General contained in document A/75/63.
10. The Group calls on all States and organizations invited to the Conference to constructively continue to actively participate in good faith as a practical step towards implementing the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East and creating equitable, sustainable, and non-discriminatory security architecture in the region. The Group further stresses that the 1995 resolution on the Middle East remains an integral and essential part of the package and the basis upon which consensus was reached on the indefinite extension of the NPT. The Group wishes to highlight the validity of these commitments and obligations until their full implementation.
11. The African Group reiterates its regrets that the 9th NPT Review Conference was unable to agree on a final outcome document, despite the concerted efforts of non-nuclear-weapon States; particularly from Africa. As we look forward to the 10th NPT Review Conference in New York from 4th to 28th January 2022, the Group calls on all States to work towards preserving the credibility, sustainability and the actualization of the goals and objectives of the Treaty as well as, the previously agreed outcomes of its Review Conference including achieving its universality.
12. The Group underscores the importance of the continued respect of the inalienable right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and stresses the central role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in this regard, through technical support and cooperation as well as, maximizing the use of science and technology for socio-economic development.
13. The African Group wishes to emphasize humanitarian considerations in the context of all deliberations on nuclear disarmament, particularly its serious concern for the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use or detonation of nuclear weapons, either by accident or as a deliberate action. The Group calls on all States, particularly nuclear weapons States, to take into consideration, the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of these weapons on human health, the environment and vital economic resources among others, and to take necessary measures aimed at dismantling and renunciation of these weapons.
14. The Group underscores the 25th Anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and wishes to reiterate the importance of achieving its universal adherence, taking into consideration the special responsibilities of Nuclear Weapons States. The Group believes that the CTBT offers hope of halting further development or proliferation of nuclear weapons, thereby contributing to the goal of nuclear disarmament. The Group acknowledges the overwhelming support of the international community in promoting the entry into force of the CTBT and calls on nuclear-weapon States and those yet to accede to the NPT, which are listed in Annex II of the Treaty and have not yet signed and ratified the CTBT, to do so without further delay. The African Group regrets that it has been 25 years since the Treaty opened for signature and yet it has not entered into force, despite being one of the most ratified Treaties.
15. While reaffirming the importance of the work entrusted to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the Group expresses its concern at the many years of impasse, which has prevented the CD from fulfilling its mandate as the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. The Group therefore, calls on the CD to resume substantive work, taking into account the security interests of all States and without further delay.
16. In conclusion, the African Group underscores the importance of the commemoration of the "International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons" as an integral part of the multilateral disarmament effort. The African Group looks forward to the actualization of the goal and objective of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
I thank you for your attention.