Treaty of Rarotonga

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Coordinates: 21°13′42.8″S 159°46′35.5″W / 21.228556°S 159.776528°W / -21.228556; -159.776528

     Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones      NW states      Nuclear sharing      NPT only
  Signed and ratified Treaty of Rarotonga

The Treaty of Rarotonga is the common name for the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, which formalises a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the South Pacific. The treaty bans the use, testing, and possession of nuclear weapons within the borders of the zone.[1][2][3]

It was signed by the South Pacific nations of Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Western Samoa on the island of Rarotonga (where the capital of the Cook Islands is located) on 6 August 1985, came into force with the 8th ratification, and has since been ratified by all of those states.

The Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau are not party to the treaties but are eligible to become parties should they decide to join the treaty in the future.[4]

Protocols binding other states[edit]

There are three protocols to the treaty, which have been signed by the five declared nuclear states, with the exception of Protocol 1 for China and Russia who have no territory in the Zone.

  1. no manufacture, stationing or testing in their territories within the Zone
  2. no use against the Parties to the Treaty, or against territories where Protocol 1 is in force
  3. no testing within the Zone

In 1996 France and the United Kingdom signed and ratified the three protocols. The United States signed them the same year but has not ratified them. China signed and ratified protocols 2 and 3 in 1987. Russia has also ratified protocols 2 and 3 with reservations.[4]

Scope of applicability[edit]

High seas highlighted in blue.

The treaty's different provisions apply variously to the Zone, to the territories within the Zone, or globally.

"South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone" means the area :

plus three projections north of the Equator to include the territory and territorial waters of Papua New Guinea, Nauru, and Kiribati, but minus the northwest corner beyond Australian territorial waters and near Indonesia (and the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone).

Several islands in the Indian Ocean also belong to Australia and are therefore part of the zone.

"Territory" means internal waters, territorial sea and archipelagic waters, the seabed and subsoil beneath, the land territory and the airspace above them. It does not include international waters. Article 2 says "Nothing in this Treaty shall prejudice or in any way affect the rights, or the exercise of the rights, of any State under international law with regard to freedom of the seas."

The Treaty is an agreement between nation-states and as such of course cannot apply to those who have not signed the treaty or protocols, for example the four countries not signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, who are all nuclear powers.

List of states and territories[edit]

State Signed Deposited
 Australia 1985-08-06 1986-12-11
 Cook Islands 1985-08-06 1985-10-28
 Fiji 1985-08-06 1985-10-04
 Kiribati 1985-08-06 1986-10-28
 Nauru 1986-07-17 1987-05-13
 New Zealand 1985-08-06 1986-11-13
 Niue 1985-08-06 1986-05-12
 Papua New Guinea 1985-09-16 1989-09-15
 Samoa 1985-08-06 1986-10-20
 Solomon Islands 1987-05-29 1989-01-27
 Tonga 1996-07-02 2000-12-18
 Tuvalu 1985-08-06 1986-01-16
 Vanuatu 1995-09-16 1996-02-09
Territory State
 Christmas Island  Australia
 Cocos (Keeling) Islands  Australia
Heard and McDonald Islands  Australia
 Norfolk Island  Australia
 Tokelau  New Zealand
 French Polynesia  France
 New Caledonia  France
 Wallis and Futuna  France
 Pitcairn Islands  Great Britain
 American Samoa  United States


External links[edit]