"Together, let us demand an end to all nuclear tests and get on with the unfinished business of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message on the International Day against Nuclear Tests,
Since nuclear weapons testing began in the mid-twentieth century, with the first test on 16 July 1945, nearly 2,000 have taken place. There has been little consideration of the devastating effects of testing on human life, let alone the understanding of nuclear fallout from atmospheric tests. Early on, having nuclear weapons was a measure of scientific sophistication or military might. Hindsight and history have shown us the terrifying and tragic effects of nuclear weapons testing, especially when controlled conditions go awry, and in light of today’s nuclear weapons which are far more powerful and destructive Subsequent incidents world-wide have provided compelling reasons for the need to observe the International Day against Nuclear Tests - a day in which educational events, activities and messages aim to capture the world’s attention and underscore the need for a unified attempt in preventing further nuclear weapons testing.
The international instrument to put an end to all forms of nuclear testing is the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which has however yet to enter into force.
On 2 December 2009, the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 29 August the International Day against Nuclear Tests by unanimously adopting resolution 64/35. The resolution calls for increasing awareness and education “about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions and the need for their cessation as one of the means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.” The resolution was initiated by the Republic of Kazakhstan, together with a large number of sponsors and cosponsors with a view to commemorate the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site on 29 August 1991.The Day is meant to galvanize the United Nations, Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, youth networks and the media to inform, educate and advocate the necessity of banning nuclear weapon tests as a valuable step towards achieving a safer world.
2010 marked the inaugural commemoration of the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Each year, since then, the day has been observed by coordinating various activities throughout the world, such as symposia, conferences, exhibits, competitions, publications, instruction in academic institutions, media broadcasts and others. A number of events have been held at United Nations Headquarters, as well. Similar activities are planned for the 2013 observance.
Since its establishment, many bilateral and multilateral governmental level developments as well as broad movements in civil society and efforts of the UN Secretary-General himself have helped to advance the cause of banning nuclear tests.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stated with great clarity: “A world free of nuclear weapons would be a global public good of the highest order.” Defining a ban on nuclear weapons as “vital”, in May of 2010, all the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, committed themselves to aim to “achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
The International Day against Nuclear Tests, together with other events and actions, has fostered a global environment with more optimistic prospects towards a world free of nuclear weapons. There have been visible signs of progress on various fronts but, equally, challenges remain. It is the hope of the UN that one day all nuclear weapons will be eliminated. Until then, there is a need to observe International Day against Nuclear Tests as we work towards promoting peace and security world-wide.