1996-97: Creating a CTBTO Preparatory Commission

1996: Establishment of the Preparatory Commission

Because many senior diplomats were already in New York for the 51st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the first meeting of the Signatories to the Treaty was held on 19 November 1996.

Prior to the signing of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in September 1996, negotiators attending the Conference on Disarmament drafted a text calling for the establishment of a Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Organization (CTBTO). The CTBTO would facilitate the Treaty’s entry into force and develop the International Monitoring System (IMS) and the International Data Centre. It would also serve as a provisional organization to manage the administrative and operational details of securing implementation of the Treaty.

Because many senior diplomats were already in New York for the 51st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the first meeting of the Signatories to the Treaty was held on 19 November 1996. During this meeting, States Signatories voted to adopt the document “Resolution Establishing the CTBTO Preparatory Commission”.

The CTBTO consists of two organs: a plenary body known as the Preparatory Commission composed of all States Signatories and the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS).

The CTBTO consists of two organs:
firstly, a plenary body composed of all States Signatories chaired on a yearly rotating basis by representatives of the regional groups (known as the Preparatory Commission);
secondly, the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS), which is tasked with the promotion of the Treaty and its entry into force, as well as the establishment of the international verification regime.

On 20 November 1996, the CTBTO convened its first meeting to deliberate over the Rules of Procedure, Financial Regulations and other matters pertaining to the future operation of the organization. Signatory States also vied over senior positions within the CTBTO and the PTS.

1996: Establishment of the Preparatory Commission cont.

Wolfgang Hoffmann of Germany became the first Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission in 1996.

The position of Executive Secretary went to Wolfgang Hoffmann of Germany, while five of the six regional groups were represented in the organization at a senior level. The United States (North America and Western Europe), Mexico (Latin America and the Caribbean), the Russian Federation (Eastern Europe), Japan (South East Asia, the Pacific and the Far East) and Egypt (Africa) appointed directors of the five PTS divisions.

Nonetheless, regional tensions that arose during Treaty negotiations surfaced again when Iran continued to object to the inclusion of Israel in the Middle East/South Asia Regional Grouping.

1997: The CTBTO at the Vienna International Centre

In March 1997, all CTBTO activities moved to the Vienna International Centre, which also houses the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), and the offices of many other United Nations organizations. By 1 March 1997, 142 countries had already signed the Treaty. This figure included all Annex 2 States with the exception of India, Pakistan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) had not signed.

With all operations formally transferred to Vienna, the CTBTO began deliberating over policy decisions and standards for the working groups. Working Group A (WGA) focused on legal and administrative issues while Working Group B (WGB) concentrated on the verification regime. The working groups started meeting in weeklong sessions three to four times a year to make policy recommendations to the CTBTO. These covered issues such as annual budgets, development of staffing and financial regulations, rules of procedure and technical specifications for the IMS.