Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the panel discussion on CTBT@20, in Vienna today:
Thank you, Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of CTBTO [Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization]; Michael Spindelegger, former Vice-Chancellor, Foreign Minister and Finance Minister of Austria, with whom I have worked very closely, thank you for your leadership and commitment; Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations in Vienna and member of the CTBT Group of Eminent Persons; and I would like to also thank Sanam Shantyaei of France 24 and Julian Borger of The Guardian News and Media. Thank you for your commitment.
Thank you very much for this opportunity to be part of this important panel discussion on an issue that I am very much committed. Today, we applaud the work of the CTBTO as a dynamic, global leader on ending nuclear testing. And we resolve together to do more to bring into force a legally binding prohibition against all nuclear tests.
This twentieth anniversary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization is not a celebration, but a reminder of work remaining; it is a call to action.
The CTBTO has proven its value again and again. This Organization is at the forefront of detecting possible nuclear tests. It has carried out activities far beyond what anyone imagined. During the Fukushima crisis, and again with the recent test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the CTBTO proved its worth.
With sound science, a global reach and a noble mandate, this Organization is mobilizing young leaders and veteran officials. There has been great progress. The norm against nuclear testing has only been broken by three States — and only one this century. The verification system is 90 per cent complete. I applaud your two decades of service to the world, and I stand with you going forward.
I have been committed to ending nuclear tests since long before I became Secretary-General. I remember myself having served as Chairman of this Preparatory Commission nearly 20 years ago. Over the past decade, I have done everything possible to push this issue up on the international agenda.
When I was serving as the representative of the Republic of Korea I had the honour of presiding as Chairman of CTBTO. While assuming my chairmanship, I made small talk, saying: “My name is Ban Ki-moon; it is pronounced Ban, it is spelled B-a-n. While I will encourage constructive dialogue, I will ban using my name [for] nuclear tests”. Since then, my nickname has been “Mr. Nuclear-Test-Ban”. So, I will still carry that name, so I will try to ban any nuclear test. So, we ask [for] your strong commitment on this.
A few years ago, I stood in the fields of Semipalatinsk to spotlight the damage from hundreds of tests there. And I have repeatedly pointed to the toxic legacy that some 2,000 tests left on people and the environment in parts of Central Asia, North Africa, North America and the South Pacific. Nuclear testing poisons water, causes cancers and pollutes the area with radioactive fallout for generations and generations to come.
We are here to honour the victims. The best tribute to them is action to ban and to stop nuclear testing. Their sufferings should teach the world to end this madness.
I welcome the voluntary moratoria against testing, but this will never substitute for the legally binding CTBT. I again call on remaining States — eight remaining States — to sign and ratify the Treaty without further delay. The eight countries that must ratify for entry into force have a special responsibility. They can advance us on the road to a nuclear-weapon-free world.
All countries can add to the pressure by ratifying. This strengthens the norm of universality. And it shows the world is united against nuclear tests.
The CTBT is essential to realizing the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. It puts a brake on their development in terms of quantity and quality. This is why the Treaty forms a central part of my Five Point Action Plan on nuclear disarmament.
I especially count on young people to press their leaders for action. And I really count on young people to raise your voice. You are not ministers, you are not ambassadors or any Government officials or delegates, but you have a prerogative to raise your voice. Tell them, tell your leaders and tell those countries who have not ratified yet that this is the world where I will live, and my children, and my great-great-grandchildren will live. Therefore, make sure that there is no fear of nuclear weapon testing.
Last week, in New York, we held a historic signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on climate change. One hundred and seventy five countries took part, breaking a global record for the most signatures in one day. It was the most meaningful way we could mark Mother Earth Day.
I was very much encouraged by such a strong commitment and leadership shown by world leaders only four months after we were together in December last year, when they adopted the Paris Agreement on climate change. The most number of countries who have shown such kind of a strong State commitment happened 34 years ago, in 1982 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, when world leaders and delegations came to Jamaica to sign the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. At that time, 119 countries have signed as soon as this Convention was open for signature. But it is record-breaking, again, that in one day, as soon as this Agreement on climate change was open for signature, 175 [countries signed], with almost 60 Heads of State and Government participating. That was a strong show of solidarity and commitment.
Why am I talking about this climate change when you are talking about nuclear testing? This has a clear implications and connectedness. When we have to make this world environmentally sustainable; there should be no further nuclear testing.
Our planet still faces, however, the threat of nuclear weapons. Let us pledge today that we will not cease until all States are party to the Treaty. That way we can leave a safer world, free of nuclear tests, to our children and to succeeding generations of this world.
And I thank you for your leadership and strong commitment. Thank you very much.