The highest decision making body of CTBTO Member States, the Preparatory Commission (PrepCom), met on 18 June 2015 in Vienna, Austria, under the chairmanship of Ambassador Abel Adelakun Ayoko of Nigeria.
In his opening statement, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo reported on his recent visits to Israel, Sweden, the Holy See, where he met with Pope Francis, the World Economic Forum in South Africa, and Swaziland.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo (centre) addressing the PrepCom

The most recent ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) by Angola, which brought the number of ratifications up to 164, was welcomed by delegations. Member States also approved of Cuba’s participation as an observer State at the PrepCom. Other topics discussed included a new biennial funding mechanism as a means to streamline the budgetary process.

For the first time at the PrepCom: Cuban Ambassador Juan Carlos Marsan Aguilera

The Treaty is nearly 20 years old. With your unwavering support and commitment, the Commission has made significant achievements. We must keep up the hard work, remind the world of the urgency of entry into force and prepare for new and emerging challenges.

Side-event on 20th anniversary of the CTBT in 2016

In a side-event co-hosted by Ambassador Mitsuru Kitano of Japan and Ambassador Gonzalo de Salazar Serantes of Spain, Member States discussed an important milestone in the CTBT’s history: September 2016 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Treaty opening for signature.

PrepCom Chair Ayoko urged delegates to rethink strategies for convincing and encouraging the remaining Annex 2 States to ratify the Treaty to enable its entry into force (the eight Annex 2 States are China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States).

from left: the Ambassadors of Japan, Mitsuru Kitano, of France, Marion Paradas, of Nigeria, Abel Adelakun Ayoko and of Spain, Gonzalo de Salazar Serantes.

Ambassador de Salazar Serantes said "Today we must commend the collective efforts that have enabled the establishment of an advanced and efficient verification system which has shown a high level of technical maturity while ensuring the Treaty’s credibility…I see in this process a gradual transformation of a de facto nuclear test ban into a rule of international customary law."
Ambassador Kitano added: "Today, I would like to propose four areas for enhancement: the verification regime, the maturity of the organization, public awareness and support, and political support for entry into force.... For political support, we will utilize the Article XIV Conference in September this year in New York to raise political momentum for entry into force in view of 20 years. "

France’s Ambassador Marion Paradas reminded delegates that French President François Hollande recently described the CTBT’s entry into force at the earliest possibility as his country's “first priority” in the framework of nuclear arms control. She went on to suggest that the CTBT's 20th anniversary could be used to celebrate the “strong asset of the CTBTO, its scientific and technical capabilities” that “make it impossible for any nuclear test to go unnoticed,” see also website of the Permanent Mission of France to the UN Vienna (in French).
In this context, several Member States expressed their support and appreciation for the activities of the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM), which was established by Zerbo in 2013. The group’s next meetings are in Seoul, Korea, from 25 to 26 June, and Hiroshima, Japan, from 24 to 25 August.

Jacek Bylica, EU Special Envoy for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, highlighted the EU's multifacetted support to the CTBT and its organization