On 11 August 2021, the Radiation and Health Physics Unit, University of the Witwatersrand and VERTIC hosted the fourth African regional workshop to further discuss the establishment of an African Nuclear Disarmament Verification hub. The purpose of the meeting was also to achieve a deeper African understanding of the challenges posed by the lack of gender parity in disarmament diplomacy and to discuss the link between nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament, socio-economic development and human security.
While the majority of the participants were South African (students; academics and government entities, participants from Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Namibia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe as well as the African Union also attended. Observers included representatives from the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC) and the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) based in Kazakhstan.
Two commissioned papers were presented:
Achieving gender parity in disarmament diplomacy and nuclear disarmament verification activities: African proposals for practical steps, by Ms Heather Loeto, Phd student: International Relations, University of Johannesburg;
Understanding the link between nuclear disarmament, socio-economic development and human security: an African perspective, Ms Gugu Dube, Nuclear non-proliferation consultant.
Ms Loeto focused on the fact that while African women, have witnessed steady progress in gender equality and women empowerment, men continue to be over-represented in positions of power and status. Diplomacy displays the same gender patterns as in other institutions and environments. She argued that Africans must make more of an effort towards building awareness, garnering the support of women, and creating targeted and practical actions towards gender parity including in disarmament diplomacy and nuclear disarmament verification research activities. Ms Dube examined whether the nexus between nuclear disarmament, socio-economic development and human security is an issue being highlighted by African states in a sustained manner.