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The Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation was formally brought into effect on November 25, 2002, at a launching conference hosted by the Netherlands in The Hague. The U.S. participated in the conference and is one of 93 original subscribing states to the HCOC (formerly known as the International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation). As of June 2016, 138 countries have subscribed to the HCOC.
The HCOC is aimed at bolstering efforts to curb ballistic missile proliferation worldwide and to further delegitimize such proliferation. The HCOC consists of a set of general principles, modest commitments, and limited confidence-building measures. It is intended to supplement, not supplant, the Missile Technology Control Regime, and is administered collectively by all subscribing states. Nigeria is a subscribing state. Other African States include Algeria, Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Togo, Equatorial Guinea, São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mauritius, Zimbabwe
The HCOC is the result of international efforts to regulate access to ballistic missiles which can potentially deliver weapons of mass destruction. The HCOC is the only multilateral code in the area of disarmament which has been adopted over the last years. It is the only normative instrument to verify the spread of ballistic missiles. The HCOC does not ban ballistic missiles, but it does call for restraint in their production, testing, and export.
By subscribing to the HCoC, members voluntarily commit themselves politically to provide pre-launch notifications (PLNs) on ballistic missile and space-launch vehicle launches (SLVs) and test flights. Subscribing States also commit themselves to submit an annual declaration (AD) of their country’s policies on ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles.
Since the entry into force of the HCoC in November 2002, annual Regular Meetings of Subscribing States to the HCOC (annual conferences) are held in Vienna. The 15th Regular Meeting took place from 2 June to 3 June 2016 under the chairmanship of Kazakhstan. The 16th Regular Meeting is scheduled from 6 June to 7 June 2017 under the chairmanship of Poland.
According to Nicolas Kasprzyk, “the African continent is almost free of ballistic missile activities. In the 1970s, building on activities it had undertaken on short-range missiles, South Africa clandestinely developed a longer-range missile capacity as a means of delivery for nuclear warheads. The programme was successful, resulting in a missile system that could have delivered a small nuclear payload over a long range. In 1993, the decision was taken to halt and fully dismantle the programme”.
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Nicolas further states that so far, the matter of ballistic missile proliferation has not been high on the political agenda of African states. There have been no official reactions from African states to the flight-testing of ballistic missiles; and the African Union (AU), which has recently strengthened its role in the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, is relatively absent on the matter of ballistic missiles.
He further shares that, the AU's Common African Defense and Security Policy, adopted in 2004, identifies 'the accumulation, stockpiling, proliferation and manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons, unconventional long-range and ballistic missiles' as a common external threat to continental security in Africa. This provides the policy framework to deal with matters related to ballistic missiles, but in practice, not much attention is given to such missiles. This is also noted in the recent report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.
He believes African states stand to gain strong political benefits from positioning themselves more assertively on the matter of ballistic missiles. This would be consistent with the continent's ambition to rise as a global power. It would also give more strength to African views and claims related to general and complete disarmament, since ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction are part of the equation.