Commemoration of the International Day against Nuclear Tests

As delivered

Remarks by H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly, at Commemoration of the International Day against Nuclear Tests

30 August 2017


Your Excellency Mr. Roman Vassilenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan,

Your Excellency Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs,

Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen,


Today, as we mark the 8th International Day against Nuclear Tests, we do so at a time of increasing global uncertainty in the arena of international peace and security.

In such times, history has demonstrated that we are called upon to reinforce, not weaken, traditional international values of peaceful ways, with special emphasis on those contained in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. As the inspiring champion of multilateralism, Jan Eliasson, put it recently, in such times we must return to sober diplomacy.

It is in this context that today’s commemoration of the International Day against Nuclear Tests is so important.

Here today we take pause to remind ourselves of exactly what is at stake. We pause to contemplate the unacceptability  of the testing and use of nuclear weapons. We pause to reflect on the damage to human life and health that these weapons represent; their long-term destruction of the environment; their diversion of massive levels of public funds from legitimate development and economic opportunities; and of course the reality of the extreme existential threat that nuclear weapons pose to us all.

We all know that the consequences of the testing and use of nuclear weapons have been both catastrophic and intergenerational in nature.

And when it comes to the use of nuclear weapons, the future of all of our nations are interdependent and unavoidably affected. It follows then that collective action is a logical requirement if we are to secure a world of lasting peace, security and prosperity for all.

More will be said today on these consequences, so let me say at this stage that it is vital that the international community takes the opportunity of today’s commemoration to reaffirm its commitment to sustaining international peace and security, by ending nuclear testing and striving for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

The adoption in 2017 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a very important step in this regard.

The Treaty represents a decisive step forward in global efforts to prohibit nuclear testing; to ensure that States that do undertake nuclear tests provide assistance to victims and contaminated areas; and, ultimately, that we eliminate the use of nuclear weapons for good.

In speaking against any further testing of nuclear weapons, I urge all Member States to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons when it opens for signature next month, for enabling its rapid entry into force will be a major step forward for global peace and security.

I take this opportunity to also urge all States that have not yet ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to do so without delay.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is based on the recognition of the fundamentally interrelated nature of global disarmament, peace and security, human rights and sustainable development for all.

This is the Agenda we have set ourselves, to bring equity to our lives and sustainability to future generations. These high aims for humanity should not have to eternally dwell in the awful shadow of the threat of nuclear weapons, as if we must be ever subdued by dread. We should not have to live that way, for surely humankind has evolved to be better than that; surely we have evolved to a level at which we govern our lives by adherence to agreed principles and laws for the good of all.

And so we gather today, for the most part, in solidarity with the promise of a world that will one day be free of the scourge of nuclear weapons. Until that day, let us at least set ourselves the principle of no further testing of these dreadfully destructive tools of man.

I thank you for your attention.

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