Interview: Jaap Ramaker, chairman of the CTBT negotiations in 1996

Ramaker 1

Ambassador Jaap Ramaker of the Netherlands, served as Chairman of the CTBT negotiations during the end game in 1996. Currently he serves as the Special Representative to promote the CTBT ratification process. Ambassador Ramaker’s diplomatic career spans four decades, during which time he served the Dutch Foreign Service in Africa, the Americas and Europe and was awarded the Carnegie Foundation’s Wateler Peace Peace in 1998.

Q: The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is seen as the culmination of four decades of international efforts to ban nuclear test explosions. It is one of the more complex treaties in the international arena (e.g. build-up of the verification system), but also one of the more clear-cut ones as regards basic obligations. Could you elaborate?

Yes, the Treaty is very clear-cut as regards the prohibition of nuclear explosions, whether of a military or peaceful nature. It is non-discriminatory and equally valid for each and every party to the Treaty. 
A complex Treaty? Yes, it was complex in terms of the negotiations process, which took three years. It is also complex in the sense that it is an umbrella under which an enormous scientific effort is being undertaken; namely the build-up of a high tech verification system that will – once the Treaty has entered into force – ascertain if, when and where a nuclear explosion may have occurred. So it is a high-tech Treaty that was fairly complicated to negotiate.

The CTBT is very clear-cut as regards the prohibition
of nuclear explosions, whether of a military or peaceful
nature. It is non-discriminatory and equally valid for
each and every party to the Treaty.

Actually, the negotiations proceeded on two levels: the diplomatic and the scientific experts’ level. The diplomats were crafting the Treaty text so the scientific experts, who were working out all the technicalities of the verification regime, had to translate their issues into language understandable, not only to the scientific, but also to the diplomatic community.

It is a well-drafted Treaty, internally consistent and with very specific features not found in any other treaty in the global arms control arena.