The important role of parliamentarians
in bringing the CTBT into force
“As a result of the 20th century and as a result of previous centuries, we all know how NOT to sustain security,” said Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Rabat, Morocco, on 29 October 2010. Tóth was speaking at the 5th session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM).
Prosperity and security
PAM was founded in 2006 following 15 years of cooperation among Mediterranean States on political, socio-economic and environmental issues, under the auspices of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). PAM seeks to strengthen political, economic and social cooperation among its 25 members from all around the Mediterranean.
The recent PAM session in Rabat coincided with a meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa, bringing together representatives from 62 countries. Referring to the central theme of this economic gathering – prosperity – and the central issue of the CTBT – security - Tóth elaborated: “Prosperity and security are the two important assets that you as parliamentarians, together with governments, are entrusted to take care of on behalf of your citizens, on behalf of your people.”
Tóth was assisted in his address by a message from the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the gathering. “The voice and role of parliamentarians is indispensable. You are the backbone of democracy…. You are the voice of the people,” the message read.
“No tests. Period.”
The CTBT prohibits all nuclear tests, in all environments and for all time. Tóth told parliamentarians that the CTBT is about one obligation: “No tests. Period.”
Tóth made several points explaining the CTBT:
- The Treaty is a collective political investment. 182 countries have signed the Treaty. 153 countries have ratified it, which means that 80 percent of the nations assembled in the United Nations are ratifiers of the Treaty and accept its norm.
- The Treaty is a huge financial investment. Member States have already invested one billion dollars into a monitoring system that listens to the land masses, the oceans and the atmosphere to find out whether the silence of nuclear weapons remains unbroken.
- For the first time in the history of multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, there is an equality of verification obligations. Monitoring facilities have been built at 340 locations in almost 90 countries. Data are shared with all Members. The CTBT does not differentiate between nuclear weapon States and non-nuclear weapon States. Under the Treaty, all States are bound by the same obligations. It’s verification of all, by all and for all.
- The Treaty is a multilateral security arrangement of States that are giving up a small portion of their national sovereignty for the sake of everyone gaining more security.
A nuclear-weapon-free Middle East
Tóth touched on discussions at the PAM meeting regarding the situation in the Middle East. He said that “the sustainability of the CTBT is linked to progress in the denuclearization of the Middle East.” There were three elements in the context of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East: no nuclear weapons, no fissile material for military purposes and no nuclear tests. Some progress had already been made under the “no test” pillar. About 90 percent of countries in the Mediterranean and Middle East have signed the CTBT. Two thirds of the countries in the Middle East have ratified it.
What can parliamentarians from Mediterranean States do to address the unfinished business in the context of the CTBT - that is securing the outstanding signatures and ratifications? Tóth answered this question with the following words: “Action, action and action.”
No reason to wait
Under a specific clause, the Treaty can only enter into force when nine outstanding States have ratified it: China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States. “This means that your country should not wait for the others to ratify,” Tóth told those countries whose signature or ratification is still missing, adding: “Until everyone is on board, no one is on board.”
African countries discuss CTBT
The call on parliamentarians to get engaged in making the CTBT a legally binding international norm was echoed in a different setting. Coinciding with the PAM session, senior representatives of African States gathered at a regional workshop on 28 and 29 October 2010 in Rabat, Morocco, to discuss the prospects of all countries on the continent joining the CTBT family.
To date, 51 of 53 African countries have signed and 38 have ratified the Treaty. Representatives of eight non-ratifying countries took part in the workshop and learned about the political and technical advantages of the Treaty.
Delegates from seven African ratifying States joined CTBTO representatives in the effort to bring outstanding countries on board. Among them were representatives from Morocco which, along with France, is currently sharing the entry-into-force process of the Treaty. The Chairperson-designate of the CTBTO, Xolisa Mabhongo from South Africa, was also present.
Reaching out to parliamentarians
Representatives of ratifying and non-ratifying African States alike emphasized the approach that Tóth undertook at the PAM meeting – reaching out to parliamentarians as the representatives of the people and the ultimate decision makers. “We need to sensitize parliamentarians about the benefits of the CTBT,” urged Chuka Udedibia from the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Tóth supported this suggestion: “We need you as pedagogues to spread this message to your people and to your parliamentarians that this step, the signature and ratification of the CTBT, will make a significant difference to your countries.”
Strong link between CTBT and Pelindaba Treaty
Mabhongo took the issue further, linking the CTBT with the Pelindaba Treaty on the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Africa: “You have to take this message to your parliamentarians and tell them that by supporting the CTBT they will strengthen their countries’ commitment to other disarmament treaties like the Pelindaba Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
Workshop participants also recommended developing a strong institutional linkage between the two treaties.
Morocco – steadfast supporter of the CTBT
Hosting important meetings such as the PAM session, the World Economic Forum and the CTBTO workshop, reflects Morocco’s dynamic diplomacy and its keen interest in addressing the burning political issues of our time. Tóth stressed this at his meeting with Mohammed Ouzzine, Secretary of State of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
Tóth thanked Morocco for its active role in promoting the CTBT and its universalization. Together with France, Morocco presided over last year’s conference to facilitate the CTBT’s entry into force. Looking ahead, Ouzzine and Tóth discussed potential future cooperation between the CTBTO and Morocco, as one of the leading nations in the region, particularly in the field of technological advances, scientific research and capacity development.
The Executive Secretary expressed his appreciation of Morocco’s active stance on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in his meeting with the President of the Moroccan House of Representatives, Abdelouahad Radi. Radi reiterated Morocco’s commitment to a complete ban on nuclear testing, saying that instead of being used for nuclear weapons, financial resources should be channelled to support development and human welfare.