Around 85 nations rally to promote CTBT at Article XIV Conference

Ministers and high-ranking officials from around 85 countries gathered in New York to rally behind the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and intensify efforts to bring it into force as a core element of global nuclear arms control and non-proliferation.

The biennial Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, commonly known as the ‘Article XIV Conference’, took place at the United Nations headquarters on 25 September during the high-level opening of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

“The Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty is one of the key pillars of the international disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, and as such, it contributes to global peace and security,” Federica Mogherini , the European Union’s (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in the EU’s statement to the conference.

“The CTBT is playing a fundamental role in ensuring international peace and security,” said Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, urging the eight countries whose ratifications are required for the Treaty to enter into force to do so without delay. 

Delivering China’s statement, the Director-General of the Department of Arms Control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fu Cong, stressed the CTBT’s close links with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and said it had been “crucial in curbing a nuclear arms race and safeguarding international peace and security”.

In a declaration (PDF) adopted by the conference, countries that have already ratified the CTBT were joined by other States Signatories in vowing to “spare no effort and use all avenues open to us to encourage further signature and ratification of the Treaty”.

“We reaffirm the vital importance and urgency of the entry into force of the CTBT and urge all States to remain seized of the issue at the highest political level,” the declaration said.

We affirm that a universal and effectively verifiable Treaty constitutes a fundamental instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

A total of 184 countries have signed the CTBT and 168 have ratified it, but it cannot come into force until it is ratified by eight more so-called Annex 2 States that hold particular nuclear technologies: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States. 

“It’s important to be at the General Assembly to help promote the entry into force – it’s an opportunity to liaise with countries that are not traditionally part of our work,” said Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

“It’s true that we’ve achieved near universality with 184 countries that have signed, 168 that have ratified. But there are still those countries – maybe because they are not well informed or because they’re still hesitant with regard to the verifiability of the Treaty. It’s always good to exchange with them and then see how best we can open dialogue and contribute to their consideration of ratification of signatures.” 

The conference declaration welcomed the two ratifications (by Thailand and Zimbabwe) and one signature (by Tuvalu) since the last Article XIV Conference in 2017, and urged the remaining eight Annex 2 countries to ratify “without further delay”. It also encouraged countries that have not yet signed the Treaty, particularly those in Annex 2, to engage with the CTBTO as observers.

It reaffirmed the importance of the de facto moratorium on nuclear tests, which has been breached by only three countries since the CTBT opened for signature in 1996, “while stressing that these measures do not have the same permanent and legally binding effect to end nuclear weapon testing and all other nuclear explosions, which can only be achieved with the entry into force of the Treaty”. 

This was the eleventh Article XIV Conference, named after the article of the CTBT that sets out a special mechanism for a biennial conference designed to facilitate entry into force.

Article XIV Conference Resources:

  • Read the full conference declaration here .
  • Watch the full Morning Session of the conference here.
  • Watch the full Afternoon Session of the conference here.
  • Statements as received are available here.
  • Statement of the CTBTO Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) ( DOC )
  • View photos of the AFC conference here.

(L to R): Sabri Boukadoum, Tijjani Muhammad, Heiko Maas, Mohamed A. Alhakim, Alexander De Croo, Lassina Zerbo and Bozorgmehr Ziaran

CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo during the 2019 Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Article XIV Conference

CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo (C) is seen with High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu (L) and Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed A. Alhakim (R)

UN Under-Secretary-General Izumi Nakamitsu, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

Sabri Boukadoum, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Algeria

Tijjani Muhammad, President of the 74th UN General Assembly

Heiko Maas, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Germany

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission

Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Russian Federation

Tarja Halonen, Former Finnish President and Member of the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM)