The CTBT’s Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) is meeting in Hiroshima, Japan to discuss practical ways in which to advance the efforts towards the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The GEM is a high-level group comprising eminent personalities and internationally recognized experts whose aim is to promote the global ban on nuclear weapons testing, support and complement efforts to promote the entry into force of the Treaty, as well as reinvigorating international endeavours to achieve this goal.

The Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall

There is nowhere other than this region where the urgency of achieving the Treaty’s entry into force is more evident, and there is no group better equipped with the experience and expertise to help further this cause than the Group of Eminent Persons.

The two-day meeting is being hosted by the government of Japan and the city of Hiroshima, where CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo participated in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing earlier this month.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo

As a person from Hiroshima, I have grown up hearing the stories of loved ones lost to the bomb and its insidious aftereffects. The pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons and the important contribution of the GEM to that end have a very special significance, not only for Japan but for myself.

On the eve of the meeting, Zerbo joined former United States Secretary of Defence and GEM Member William Perry, as well as  Hiroshima Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki as a panellist in a public lecture on nuclear disarmament which was attended by around 100 persons, including many students. In his opening statement of the GEM meeting, Executive Secretary Zerbo urged global leaders to use the momentum created by the recently reached agreement between the E3+3 and Iran to inject a much needed dose of hope and positivity in the current discussions on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

Japanese Foreign Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida

What the Iran deal teaches us is that multilateralism in arms control and international security is not only possible, but the most effective way of addressing the complex and multi-layered challenges of the 21st century. [It] also teaches us that the measure of worth in any security agreement or arms control treaty is in the credibility of its verification provisions. As with the Iran deal, the utility of the CTBT must be judged on the effectiveness of its verification and enforcement mechanisms. In this area, there can be no question.

Also speaking at the opening session, former United States Secretary of Defence William Perry expressed his firm belief that ratification of the CTBT served United States national interests, not only at the international level but also at the strictly domestic level for national security measures. He considered that the current geopolitical climate constituted a risk for the prospects of entry into force and reiterated the importance of maintaining the moratoria on nuclear testing. Participating GEM members included Nobuyasu Abe, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Japan; Des Browne, former Secretary of State for Defence, United Kingdom; Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs; Sérgio Duarte, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Brazil; Michel Duclos, Senior Counsellor to the Policy Planning Department at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Wolfgang Hoffmann, former Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, Germany; Ho-Jin Lee, Ambassador, Republic of Korea; and William Perry, former Secretary of Defence, United States.

István Mikola, Minister of State, Hungary; Yusron Ihza Mahendra, Ambassador of Indonesia to Japan; and Yerzhan N. Ashikbayev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Kazakhstan participated as ex-officio members. For the host country Japan, Ambassador Kazutoshi Aikawa, Director-General, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated.

Participants in the meeting discussed a wide range of relevant issues and debated practical measures that could be undertaken to further advance the entry into force of the Treaty, especially in the run-up to the Article XIV Conference which will take place at the end of September in New York.

The GEM adopted the Hiroshima Declaration [Español PDF] which reaffirmed the group’s commitment to achieving the global elimination of nuclear weapons and, in particular, to the entry into force of the CTBT as “one of the most essential practical measures for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation”, and, inter alia, called for “a multilateral approach to engage the leadership of the remaining eight Annex 2 States with the aim of facilitating their respective ratification processes”.
With the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the entire country is filled with an ever stronger desire to eliminate nuclear weapons. This is an opportune time to build new momentum and I hope that the Hiroshima Declaration will be a step in that direction.

Zerbo, who established the GEM - a group of senior statesmen/women, active and former politicians and internationally recognized experts - in September 2013, acknowledged Japan’s strong support for the Treaty, as well as the country’s commitment to broader nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
Japan has been a main supporter of the CTBT since its inception in 1996: it was one of the first Annex 2 States to sign and ratify and it also hosts ten CTBTO monitoring stations, including the one that detected radioactivity after the DPRK’s last nuclear test in 2013.

The group has met before in Stockholm, Sweden, in April 2014 and in Seoul, Korea, in June 2015.
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