Lassina Zerbo Receives 2018 AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy

Vienna, 13 February 2018

VIENNA – The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has awarded its 2018 Science Diplomacy award to CTBTO Executive Secretary, Lassina Zerbo, in recognition of his commitment to eliminating nuclear testing.

Announcing the award today, the AAAS said Zerbo was chosen for “using his scientific expertise and leadership ability to tackle difficult challenges and promote world peace.” “Dr. Zerbo has repeatedly demonstrated his profound skill at promoting dialogue and interaction among scientists, policymakers, academics and civil society, and encouraging diverse groups to work collaboratively,” the announcement said.

The AAAS noted that selecting Zerbo for the award “highlights the continued importance of science diplomacy leadership on the issue of nuclear testing, as well as Zerbo’s substantial contributions to these efforts.” Reacting to the news, Zerbo said he felt very honoured and humbled to receive such recognition.   

“The AAAS’s work to advance science to the benefit of all people has long been an inspiration to me.  To be recognized with the Science Diplomacy award, by such a revered organization, is a true honour,” Zerbo said. Zerbo said the value of science diplomacy was too often overlooked. “We must make better use of science diplomacy to ease political tensions and facilitate exchanges. Nowhere is this more vital today than in the Korean peninsula,” the Executive Secretary said.  Zerbo expressed his conviction that the prize would help to advance non-proliferation efforts globally. “We need to secure eight ratifications to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force. On the science front we are ready.  We have a verification regime that is second to none, monitoring the globe for any sign of a nuclear test. Now we must capture the political will.” Zerbo said “the award is a great encouragement not only to me, but for the scientists and team at CTBTO, who work to detect nuclear tests 24/7 and to end them altogether”.

The AAAS Award recognizes an individual or group working together in the scientific and engineering, or in the foreign affairs communities, making an outstanding contribution to furthering science diplomacy. The Award consists of a plaque and an honorarium of US$5,000. Zerbo intends to use it as seed funding to initiate a science and diplomacy centre in his home country of Burkina Faso for the region. The award ceremony will take place at the 184th AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas on 16 February, 2018. 

Executive Secretary contact:
Kirstie Gregorich Hansen
CTBTO Public Information Officer
M +43 699 1459 6540
[email protected]


The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere and for all times. The Treaty will enter into force once signed and ratified by the remaining eight nuclear technology holder countries: China, Egypt, the DPRK, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States. A verification regime to monitor compliance with the Treaty is close to completion. Nearly 90 percent of the 337 facilities of the International Monitoring System (IMS) are already in place and providing timely, accurate and reliable data; see interactive map. The system swiftly and precisely detected all six of DPRK’s declared nuclear tests. CTBTO Member States are provided with data collected by the monitoring stations, as well as data analyses prepared by the International Data Centre in Vienna, Austria. Once the Treaty has entered into force, an on-site inspection can be invoked in case of a suspicious event.