Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna
Statement for The Fifth (5th) Session of the Conference of States Parties to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba)
21 – 22 October 2021
Your Excellency, the Chair of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy,
Distinguished Member States of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I bid you warm greetings from the Blue Pacific. It is my distinct honour to address this 5th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Treaty of Pelindaba, on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum and the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, the Treaty of Rarotonga.
2. Excellencies, I am deeply encouraged by our ongoing joint efforts and commitments to our Nuclear Free Zones, which exemplify our regional efforts to create a common security structure.
3. Together, our nuclear free zones, regions and nations represent more than 100 nations spanning the entire Southern Hemisphere, and includes more than half of the UN membership.
4. Our collective conviction influences and inspires efforts for a nuclear free-world and the maintenance of international peace and security.
5. However, we must continue to put pressure on nuclear weapon states to bring about nuclear disarmament and abolition, as we cannot rely solely on the enjoyment of “negative security assurances” through our treaty protocols.
6. We must continue to call for an end to all actions inconsistent with Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, such as the qualitative improvement of existing nuclear weapons and the development of new types of such weapons.
7. It has been seventy six years since the beginning of the nuclear age, we should not wait until we reach 100 before real progress is made. We cannot continue to live in fear, and we should not have to deal with a threat where the solution is well and truly within our own control.
8. Excellencies, as we renew our commitment to strengthening and consolidating our nuclear-weapon-free zones, I invite your support to our efforts in the Pacific to address nuclear legacy issues that continue to impact the health, environment, and human rights of our Blue Pacific.
9. Further, we welcome your support to our efforts to address a present threat to our Blue Pacific – that of nuclear safety and nuclear waste.
10. While the world has experienced the benefits of the peaceful use of nuclear energy in the generation of low carbon electricity and life-changing applications in medicine, science, agriculture and industry, our Pacific Island nations are currently facing the dire possibility of being at the receiving end of a large-scale nuclear accident.
11. The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011 generated global concern and refocused global attention on the challenges of nuclear safety.
12. The impact forcefully reminded the nuclear community of the lesson that emerged from Chernobyl that nuclear and radiological risks transcend national borders – that “an accident anywhere is an accident everywhere”.
13. Every state with nuclear power plants needs to focus on protecting its population and environment by constantly striving for higher standards of nuclear safety and employing lessons learned from global operating experience and public concerns relating to radiation risks and nuclear waste.
14. Our Member States have also called on States to take all appropriate measures within their territory, jurisdiction or control to prevent significant transboundary harm to the territory of another state, as required under international law.
15. As we engage with Japan to ensure the freedom of our Blue Pacific from nuclear waste, we are enlisting the support of international scientific experts to help us in our efforts.
16. This is also critical in our efforts at COP26 and under the Paris Agreement, in the context of clean energy to mitigate climate change.
17. Excellencies, in closing, let me emphasise the ongoing solidarity of the Pacific Islands Forum with AFCONE. We look forward to deepening our cooperation in the lead up to the Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT in 2022, as well as to the Meeting of States Parties to Treaties Establishing Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones.
18. I also wish to offer our interest to host a meeting of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones in the Blue Pacific in 2022.
19. With these brief remarks, I thank you for your attention, and I wish you the best in your deliberations.
I thank you.