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Why is this conference important?

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It is a high level conference. Foreign Ministers from among 100 countries gather to call upon remaining countries to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) without delay.  They also agree on a number of steps to promote the Treaty’s entry into force in the next couple of years.

Why is it called the Article XIV conference?

Its official name is the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The conference is named after Article XIV of the CTBT, which regulates the entry into force of the Treaty. The Treaty will enter into force 180 days after all required States have ratified it.  In the meantime, conferences will take place every two years to accelerate the ratification process.

When and where does the conference take place?

The 2009 conference took place from 24 to 25 September 2009 in New York, United States. The conference is held every two years. Previous conferences took place alternately in Vienna, Austria, and New York, U.S.A, in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Who calls for the conference?

The UN Secretary-General is requested by a majority of ratifying States to convene the conference.  As the depositary of the Treaty, the UN Secretary-General then sends a letter of invitation to all States to participate.  When States have ratified the Treaty, they deposit their ratification documents, the so-called instruments for ratification, with the office of the UN Secretary-General at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Who chaired the conference?

In 2009, the conference was chaired by the Foreign Ministers of France and Morocco, Bernard Kouchner and Taieb Fassi Fihri. Their countries lead the process to promote the Treaty’s entry into force for the next two years until the next conference. France and Morocco took over the chairmanship from Austria and Costa Rica, who chaired the conference in 2007, and led the entry-into-force process until the conference in 2009. Japan, Mexico, Finland and Australia chaired the conferences in 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005 respectively. The fact that two countries – one from the North and one from the South – co-chair the process since 2007, symbolizes the global nature of the Treaty and its verification regime.

Who can participate?

All States can participate and address the conference, including ratifying States, signatory States and non-signatory States. At the 2007 conference in Vienna, three non-signatories States participated: Barbados, Iraq and Pakistan. The representatives of Barbados and Pakistan also addressed the gathering. Inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations can attend as observers. The conference is open to the media.

What can be expected from the Article XIV conference?

Countries speaking in the debate are expected to urge signatory States and non-signatory States to sign and ratify the Treaty. Many are expected to stress the importance of the Treaty as a key element of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime and highlight the demonstrated effectiveness of the Treaty’s verification regime.   Ratifying and signatory States will together issue a final declaration calling for the entry into force of the Treaty, and suggesting concrete steps to promote it. At the 2007 conference, the Final Declaration  was endorsed by 88 ratifying States and 18 signatory States, including the Annex 2 States China, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran and Israel.

Why was the 2009 conference so important?

Although this was the sixth time that States gathered for an Article XIV conference, never before was the Treaty been closer to entry into force. There was a great political momentum and international support for the CTBT as a key instrument of and catalyst for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. This was reflected in recent statements by groups such as the G8, the Non-Aligned Movement and the European Union.

The UN Security Council gathered at the Heads of State level on the opening day of the conference to discuss nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the CTBT. It was the first such meeting since 1992. The meeting was convened by U.S. President Barack Obama, who stated that he would immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the CTBT. 

There is growing bipartisan support for the Treaty and increasing openness for its consideration in the U.S., whose ratification is needed for the Treaty’s entry into force.  It was the first time since 1999 that the United States participated in the conference. U.S. ratification of the CTBT is expected to have a stimulating effect on other hold-out countries.