Saturday, 25 November 2017

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Embrace a world free of nuclear weapons

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Preparatory Committee for the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Meets for the first time. Photo: UN photo.

29 August 2016 — "On this Day, I call on all countries and peoples to work for the CTBT’s entry into force as soon as possible so that we may advance toward a nuclear-weapon-free world." — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.

Since nuclear weapons testing began in the mid-twentieth century, with the first test on 16 July 1945, nearly 2,000 have taken place. Over the course of the Cold War, hundreds of nuclear weapon tests left behind a devastating legacy for local citizens and their natural environment. 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.”

Today marks a quarter of a century since the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, ground zero for more than 450 nuclear tests. The victims there are joined by others scattered across Central Asia, North Africa, North America and the South Pacific.

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Licorne test, 1971, French Polynesia. Photo: The Official CTBTO Photostream

Nuclear testing remains a reoccurring threat to the international community today and for the future, as Ban Ki-moon reminds us, “For nearly a decade as United Nations Secretary-General, I have witnessed many of the worst problems in the world as well as our collective ability to respond in ways that at times seemed impossible. Our ambitious new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change have demonstrated the power of political will to break longstanding deadlocks. On this International Day against Nuclear Tests, I call on the world to summon a sense of solidarity commensurate with the urgent need to end the dangerous impasse on this issue”.

He adds, “Since its adoption 20 years ago by the General Assembly, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has yet to enter into force. Given the catastrophic risks posed by nuclear weapons to our collective human and environmental security – even our very existence – we must reject this stalemate”.

On this day, Ban Ki-moon urges all member states to act now, “Those States whose ratification is required to bring the Treaty into force should not wait for others. Even one ratification can act as a circuit breaker. All States that have not done so should sign and ratify because every ratification strengthens the norm of universality and shines a harsher spotlight on the countries that fail to act”. 

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