Engaging Francophone parliamentarians to support the CTBT

7-8 July 2019

For the first time, an Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has participated in a plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie (APF), held from 7-8 July 2019 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. Lassina Zerbo participated in this important session, the 45th of its kind, in the context of an international campaign for the entry into force of the CTBT, initiated and launched by APF in February 2019 in Vienna.

In his address to the Francophone parliamentarians, Zerbo recalled the importance and urgency of the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in the current context. He underlined the contribution of the CTBT to peace and security, recalling that it relies on a global International Monitoring System (IMS) that is able to detect any nuclear explosion.

CTBTO Executive Secretary addressing the 45th plenary session of the APF

Participants at the 45th plenary session of the APF

The IMS has exceeded all expectations in terms of coverage and detection capabilities. As an example, it has detected all six nuclear tests announced by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and provided member states with objective, reliable and verifiable evidence, demonstrating once again its effectiveness and efficiency.

In a strong plea, the Executive Secretary emphasized the opportunity to bring together a broad coalition for the CTBT, including around the North Korean nuclear issue, in the framework of the next Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The entry into force of the CTBT remains the most concrete and credible element to build a solid and lasting framework that will ultimately achieve the common goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, Zerbo said. Underlining the key role of parliamentarians as legislators, both in ratifying international instruments and in taking legal initiatives, he highlighted the need to mobilize the goodwill of all concerned in order to ensure the entry into force and universalization of the CTBT. He invited the parliamentarians, as representatives of the people, to take action to raise awareness among the media and civil society, as well as through dialogue with other parliaments and parliamentary groupings such as the APF.
In times such as these, it is essential to recognize our duty and to fully assume it. Today, it is our moral duty to take concrete action against the proliferation of nuclear weapons for a safer world and to preserve the legacy we will leave to future generations. Parliamentarians have a key role to play.


While in Côte d'Ivoire, the Executive Secretary met with Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary General of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF). They discussed the importance of promoting the CTBT within the framework of the OIF peace and security mandate. They also discussed the question of the effectiveness of multilingualism in international organizations for a strong and balanced multilateralism, which is more necessary than ever.

Hearing before the Foreign Affairs Commission of the French National Assembly

Before travelling to Abidjan, Zerbo addressed the Foreign Affairs Commission of the French National Assembly in Paris. On the challenges of nuclear non-proliferation, he recalled the need to make parliamentary diplomacy more effective and highlighted the relevance of the CTBT in creating the framework of trust that is essential for tangible progress.

Hearing of the Executive Secretary before the Foreign Affairs Commission of the French National Assembly

The current geopolitical context makes the CTBT more relevant than ever, as it can serve as a bridge between nuclear and non-nuclear states, and provide the necessary framework of confidence for a total and verifiable disarmament process of North Korea.

While in Paris, the Executive Secretary also met with Alice Guitton, Director General, International Relations and Strategy, Ministry of Defense; Francois Geleznikoff, Director of Military Applications at the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA); and Enrico Letta, Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences Po (PSIA). Zerbo also addressed the students of the Institute for Strategic Research at the Military School (IRSEM) and delivered a keynote speech at the summer university of the Nuclear Network and New Generation Strategy (RNS-NG), including on the challenges and the strategic dimension of the CTBT, as well as on the IMS in the current context.

Read the French version of this highlight here.