CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo receives Special Honorary Citizenship of Hiroshima

CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo and Mayor of Hiroshima Kazumi Matsui (photo courtesy of: City of Hiroshima)

On 5 August, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo received a Special Honorary Citizenship from the City of Hiroshima for his initiatives to “preserve, disseminate and convey” the reality of atomic bombings, and his leadership efforts—including through the activities of the GEM [CTBTO Group of Eminent Persons]—to promote the message of Hiroshima and the Hibakusha. The presentation ceremony of the title of Hiroshima City Special Honorary Citizen was held at Hiroshima City Hall, Japan, on 5 August 2017 and presided by the Mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui. Mayor Matsui presented Dr Zerbo with a certificate and medal of Hiroshima City Special Honorary Citizenship.

Since 1963, this title has been presented to prominent foreign individuals who have contributed to the development of international peace and cooperation with the participation of the City of Hiroshima. Dr Lassina Zerbo is the 38th recipient of this great honour.

"I am humbled and honoured to receive the Special Honorary Citizenship of Hiroshima and share a special bond with the city’s resilient and courageous people. This is a special title for me."CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo
Certificate of Hiroshima City Special Honorary Citizenship presented to Dr Lassina Zerbo

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, said Hiroshima appreciated the personal role and leadership of Executive Secretary Zerbo in conveying the message of the Hibakusha, as well as the “tremendous assistance” the City has received from Dr Zerbo. Mayor Matsui highlighted Zerbo’s leadership in the creation of the GEM and his role in hosting the August 2015 GEM meeting in Hirsohima. The GEM meeting in Hiroshima “meant a lot to us, as we had opportunities to share with its participants, who are influential in the global community, what actually happened with the atomic bombing and our desires for peace”, noted Matsui. 

"Dr Zerbo has been deeply committed to conveying the reality of the atomic bombings, Hiroshima’s earnest desire for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and the necessity of visiting A-bombed Hiroshima to as many people as possible"Mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui
Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo presented his acceptance speech at the Ceremony. (photo courtesy of: City of Hiroshima)

A record of Dr Zerbo’s achievements was read out at the ceremony. Amongst the many achievements highlighted, the City of Hiroshima stressed the importance of Zerbo’s efforts in hosting the August 2015 GEM meeting in Hiroshima as well as his role in facilitating a permanent exhibition on atomic bombings at the United Nations Office in Vienna.

Zerbo said he was humbled by the distinction, which has great significance to him. The Executive Secretary added that the title comes with great responsibility and stands for our sense of purpose and team work. “It represents our determination to press on with our duties to stand up to new challenges, and to serve the present and future generations”, stressed Zerbo.

“When I say “Hiroshima”, I hear “never again” should nuclear weapons be used. When I say “Hiroshima”, I also hear “together we can make a difference.”CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo
ES Zerbo picture d with the main distinguished attendees from the City of Hiroshima, including Mayor Matsui and Chairman of the Hiroshima City Council, Mansanori Nagata. (photo courtesy of: City of Hiroshima)

Zerbo underlined the symbolism of this distinction taking place on the eve of the Hiroshima tragedy commemoration, encouraging his counterparts to double the efforts in their quest for peace. A day after the Hiroshima City Special Honorary Citizenship Ceremony, on 6 August, Zerbo participated in the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima and on 9 August, the Executive Secretary participated in the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Nagasaki.

“Over the years, I have met many Hibakusha…Their stories have always moved me deeply and I am impressed by their dedication and resilience. ”CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo

Seventy-two years ago, on 6 August 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima which destroyed the city and caused numerous civilian casualties on the day and in the ensuing months. Three days later, on 9 august 1945, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Numerous atomic bomb survivors, the Hibakusha, still suffer from the after effects to this day. The deeply-moving testimonies of the Hibakusha renews our purpose and strengthens our resolve to advance a common goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. It is important to continue to ensure that the voices of the Hibakusha will be heard and their message carried forward by the younger generations.

After the first nuclear test in the New Mexico desert and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, more than 2000 nuclear tests were conducted. These tests led to the development of nuclear weapons that are several orders of magnitude more destructive than those used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Their negative effects on human life and the environment are truly devastating and irreversible.

The CTBTO is striving to put in place an effective international legal and technical tool that contributes to global efforts in preventing the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from ever happening again. The banning of nuclear testing is the most tangible measure that would lead to the end of the nuclear arms race, and serve as one of the key elements of a legal framework for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.