Abdul Samad Minty was born on 31 October 1933 in Hartebeesfontein, Northern Transvaal (now known as Limpopo Province). Minty grew up in Johannesburg where he completed his schooling. He left South Africa in June 1958, for Britain, to further his studies.
His lobbying at the International Olympic Committee in 1963 was instrumental in securing the suspension of the South African Olympic Committee from the Olympic movement. In 1969 he graduated with an MSc in Economics and International Relations at the University College in London and he published his study on the defence strategy of the apartheid government in South Africa. His publication helped the Anti-Apartheid Movement to develop a campaign for termination of the Simonstown Agreement between South Africa and Britain on the defence of the seas around Southern Africa. While Minty was abroad he worked for the International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa.
Between 1962 and 1995, Minty was the Honorary Secretary of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement. Minty became a Research Fellow with the Richardson Institute for Conflict and Peace Research in London between 1969 to 1975. In April 1973 he was a member of the Steering Committee of the first United Nations Office to the African Union (UN-OAU) Conference on Southern Africa held in Oslo and a Special Consultant for the second UN-OAU Conference in Lagos in August 1977. Minty was called to give evidence as an individual expert on four occasions to the United Nations (UN) Security Council Arms Embargo Committee between 1977 and 1994. From 1979 to 1994 he was the Director of the World Campaign against Military and Nuclear Collaboration with South Africa (the World Campaign was established in Oslo, Norway under the patronage of former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere and other Frontline Heads of State. The sponsors included former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, British politician David Steel of the United Kingdom and Coretta Scott King, wife of the late Martin Luther King.) In these roles he participated in many UN seminars and hearings on apartheid and South Africa’s military and nuclear capability.
Also during this period, Minty worked closely with the African Group, the Non-Aligned Movement and other members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over South Africa`s nuclear programme and lobbied for sanctions against the regime. He was thus instrumental in the removal of South Africa from the designated seat for Africa on the IAEA Board of Governors. He was thus also an important voice within the African National Congress (ANC) and its allies against South Africa’s nuclear weapons program and eventually in ensuring that Africa as a whole became a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the 1990s.
After the fall of apartheid in 1994, Minty was appointed as the Deputy Director-General for Multilateral Affairs in the Department of Foreign Affairs, a position he held until 2004. Between 1994 and 1995 he was a Senior Research Fellow with the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO). In 1995, when South Africa resumed its seat on the Board of Governors of the IAEA, Ambassador Minty was appointed as the Governor for South Africa, a position he still holds. Minty was also a key advisor to South Africa’s delegation at the 1995 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and then led South Africa’s delegation at the subsequent Review Conferences in 2000 and 2005.
Through his involvement he has played a pioneering role in the development of South Africa’s principled position on advancing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and on the need for nuclear weapon states to immediately disarm in a transparent and verifiable manner. He also oversaw South Africa's new membership of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Commonwealth. Minty was responsible for overseeing logistical arrangements and advised on policy issues when South Africa hosted United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1996, the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in 1998, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1999 and the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001. In 1997 Minty was elected the chairperson of the first Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG) outreach meeting held in Vienna, Austria.
In 2006, Minty was elected president of the IAEA’s General Conference, which marked the beginning of activities commemorating the IAEA’s 50th anniversary. Minty has also served as the Chairperson of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) from April 2007 to May 2008 and currently serves as a member of the Troika of the Group until May 2009. On 12 September 2008 South Africa nominated Minty for the post of Director-General of the IAEA and his nomination was endorsed by the African Union. Minty also served as a member of Troika Group until May 2009.
Currently Minty is the Deputy Director-General: Ambassador and Special Representative for Disarmament and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) for the Department of Foreign Affairs. He is also a personal representative of the President on the NEPAD Steering Committee. Minty has also been the Chairperson of the South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction since 1995.
He currently sits on the Board of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa, is the representative of the Department of Foreign Affairs on the South African National Conventional Arms Control Committee and is the Vice-Convener of the Council of the South Centre, Geneva.