Statement by HE Deputy Minister Alvin Botes during the virtual commemoration of the entry into force, of the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, 22 January 2021

Chairperson,
Excellences, and Distinguished participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honour and great pleasure to address you today on this momentous occasion and to, on behalf of the Government and the People of the Republic of South Africa, register our unwavering support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Firstly, I would like to express my Government’s appreciation to all the countries that have ensured that the Treaty is ratified by the requisite number for Entry-Into-Force and to all the signatory states. We take this opportunity to urge all states that have not yet done so, including the Nuclear Weapon States, to ratify the treaty without further delay. There is no rational reason for possessing nuclear weapons and we must endeavour to get rid of them.

Secondly to thank civil society and in particular, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), for working so relentlessly with countries to ensure that this Treaty is negotiated, adopted and ratified.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

South Africa’s struggle for political freedom was closely linked to nuclear disarmament and as the first country to have eliminated our nuclear weapons, we are proud to have played a role in the finalisation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, together with members of the Core Group.

The adoption of the TPNW by the vast majority of States in July 2017 reflects the majority’s commitment to achieve a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons and to ensure that nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes only. The Treaty seeks to achieve the objective of the UN General Assembly’s very first resolution adopted in 1946 to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction.

Chairperson,

With these brief remarks, I would like to applaud this day and our efforts as a clear demonstration of our collective and unwavering commitment towards a world that is free from the threat posed by nuclear weapons. We look forward to even more States ratifying the Treaty in furtherance of this common objective.

The entry-into-force of the TPNW is a fitting tribute to the remarks of our late President, His Excellency Nelson Mandela in his last address to the General Assembly in 1998 when he said:

“…We must ask the question, which might sound naive to those who have elaborated sophisticated arguments to justify their refusal to eliminate these terrible and terrifying weapons of mass destruction – why do they need them anyway!...”

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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