18 Dec 2020

Samoa urges states to join campaign against nuclear weapons

9:59 am on 18 December 2020

Samoa is encouraging all Pacific Forum members not yet party to the Rarotonga Treaty to join the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone pact.

Member countries held a virtual meeting this week to mark the 35th anniversary of the Treaty.

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Photo: 123rf

Their efforts have been boosted recently by Tuvalu becoming the 50th country to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations.

This milestone means nuclear weapon will be deemed illegal under international law as of next year.

Speaking for Samoa, the country's High Commissioner-designate to Fiji, Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia, encouraged all nuclear-weapons states to sign and ratify the UN Treaty, and the few Pacific territories not already on board the Rarotonga Treaty to join.

Samoa also called on nuclear shipping states to continue to engage in meaningful dialogue on key issues of prevention, response, liability and compensation.

Ambassador Elisaia said fragile Pacific economies already impacted by the pandemic could be further devastated by an incident in their waters, whether or not that incident resulted in a radioactive release.

"Where there is a demonstrable link between an incident and economic loss, States Parties should not be left to carry such a loss unsupported," he said.

Phil Twyford

Phil Twyford Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

This week's meeting, chaired by the Pacific Islands Forum, resolved to activate the Treaty of Rarotonga's provisions for convening the Consultative Committee, to consider pracical means of operationalising the Treaty.

"Disarmament is not a job we can leave to future enerations," New Zealand's Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Phil Twyford, said.

Twyford paid tribute to the work of Pacific Islands countries in exercising a strong voice on nuclear disarmament.

According to Samoa, regional treaties like the Rarotonga Treaty play an important role in encouraging regional peace and stability, promoting global disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.

"We all want a future with peaceful societies, free from conflict and nuclear weapons. Samoa believes in the importance of multilateralism for countries to grow together, in peace and stability,' Ambassador Elisaia said.

Women in Tahiti commemorate 50th anniversary of first French nuclear weapons test in South Pacific

Women in Tahiti commemorate 50th anniversary of first French nuclear weapons test in South Pacific Photo: AFP

"While there have been notable achievements in regional and global efforts to ensure peace and security, much work still needs to be done. Through our membership to disarmament and non-proliferation conventions, Samoa will continue to urge for a world without weapons of mass destruction, including the total elimination of nuclear weapons."