Foreign Ministers gather at United Nations to advance CTBT Entry into Force
New York, 29 September 2015
Speaking at the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), co-chair Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov warned delegates he would be “straightforward, even undiplomatic” in pushing for a legally binding nuclear test-ban. He added that together with co-chair Japan, “our countries have the moral right to be aggressive about abolishing nuclear weapons”. Minister Idrissov also reminded delegates of the call made by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the General Assembly: a world free of nuclear weapons by 2045 when the United Nations will mark its 100th birthday.
Japan and Kazakhstan have the moral right to be aggressive about abolishing nuclear weapons.
For his part, co-chair Fumio Kishida , Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan highlighted his country’s historical role and obligation to work with the international community to ban nuclear tests and nuclear weapons, making particular reference to this year’s 70th anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the experience of nuclear-bomb survivors, the Hibakusha.
Together with Foreign Minister Idrissov, I stand ready to spread the knowledge about the reality of the consequence of the use of nuclear weapons, as I know such reality. I will lead this initiative so that the world does not lose sight of why we work on nuclear disarmament.
The conference took place on the margins of the opening of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly which saw an unprecedented number of Heads of State and Government convene in New York. Addressing the General Assembly on 25 September, His Holiness Pope Francis also reminded delegates that “there is an urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons”.
The CTBT contains a special mechanism to promote its entry into force – a conference designed to facilitate this objective which takes place every other year. While its official designation is the Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of the CTBT, it is more commonly known as the “Article XIV conference” in accordance with the relevant Treaty article. The ninth such conference was held at United Nations headquarters in New York on 29 September and was attended by a large number of Foreign Ministers from ratifying states, as well as Members of the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM), including , EU High Representative Federica Mogherin i, former UK Secretary of State for Defence Lord Desmond Browne , Commissioner of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission Ambassador Nobuyasu Abe, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane, and CTBTO Executive Secretary Emeritus Wolfgang Hoffmann.
Article XIV Conference delegates adopted a Final Declaration which affirms “that a universal and effectively verifiable Treaty constitutes a fundamental instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.”
2016 will mark twenty years since the CTBT was opened for signature. I don’t regard this as a reason for celebration. Almost twenty years later, we find ourselves at a conference provided for under Article XIV of the Treaty to accelerate entry into force. At the ninth such Conference, in fact. Excellencies, we need something more.
While in New York, Zerbo met with a large number of high-level representatives, including United States President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, King Mswati III of Swaziland, Foreign Minister of Myanmar Wunna Maoung Lwin, African Union Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and more.
Speaking at the opening of the Conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that “the CTBT is essential to realizing our vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. It will help ensure that the international community is no longer forced to live in the shadow of nuclear weapons”. He also promised: “As a former Chairman of the CTBT Preparatory Committee, I am personally committed to doing everything possible to see this Treaty enter into force,” adding jokingly that in line with his name “spelled B-A-N, I am determined to ban any nuclear tests”.
The CTBT is essential to realizing our vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. It will help ensure that the international community is no longer forced to live in the shadow of nuclear weapons.
During the lunch break, delegates were invited to view a special exhibit of art on the topic of nuclear testing. Shown previously in Hefei (China) and in Vienna, the exhibit “Against Nuclear Testing – for World Peace” features works by artists from Austria, China, Kazakhstan, and the United States. Artist Li Xiaoyu was present at the event and spoke passionately about her inspiration for painting on this difficult topic – and of her determination to see a world free from nuclear weapons. The exhibit also featured works by Karipbek Kuyukov, a nuclear testing victim and acclaimed artist from Kazakhstan, honorary Ambassador of the ATOM project.
Karipbek says that his aim, his mission in life is to be among the very last victims of nuclear testing. As he says, he was born without arms, but he can move, and he can talk to everyone about what happened.