PRETORIA-- The adoption of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was in the spotlight at the African Regional Conference on Nuclear Disarmament and Lethal Autonomous Weapons, held here Thursday.

The conference brought together members of the diplomatic corps, international organizations and civil society to engage on ways and means of taking forward the landmark adoption of the TPNW on 7 July 2017, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) said in a statement here.

The treaty is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination.

The adoption of the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons is a historic achievement, given that the elimination of weapons of mass destruction has been on the multilateral agenda for more than 70 years since the adoption of the very first resolution by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946.

Participants at the conference also examined the prospect of the development of weapons, which once activated, could select and engage targets without human control. This category of weapons has been termed Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS).

Furthermore, discussions focused on the range of humanitarian, ethical, legal and technological considerations pertaining to such weapons.

The conference -- which was hosted by the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and DIRCO -- was opened by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Luwellyn Landers.

The regional conference is a contribution to South Africa's active involvement in international disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control efforts aimed at the creation of a safer and better world for all.

South Africa, the only country in the world to dismantle nuclear weapons it developed, has been a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons since 1991.