International Day against Nuclear Tests Celebrated at the UN

Rochelle Rawls-Shaw, intern with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations attended a discussion today on the International Day against Nuclear Tests at the United Nations.  Below is her reflection on the event.

Today’s discussion focused on the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and what has transpired since its inception. August 29th is celebrated as the International Day against Nuclear Test which aims to foster public awareness and generate action to end nuclear testing. Today, UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon stated that “Nuclear tests remain a threat to human health and global stability.” The chairman of the Atomic Energy Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Timur Zhantikin’s, opening statement offered insights into the closure of Kazakhstan’s nuclear testing facility, the problems that facility caused to their citizens and what made the government commit to being nuclear free. Other panelists, included representatives from the United States, New Zealand, Australia, the International Atomic Energy Agency and Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy discussed key issues related to the CTBT.

The issues included what additional steps were necessary to further the progress on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the establishment of more nuclear-free weapon zones, and problems resulting non-universal ratification.  The group also looked at the evolution of the CTBT and the lessons learned in the process.

The discussion continued on compliance, non-compliance as well as states where non-disclosure is problematic. Some members of the panel felt that the UN provided a “big picture” assessment of the outcome and should take on more leadership in trying to encourage non-compliance member states to sign the treaty. The panel agreed that progress was too slow because of what was transpiring outside of the UN system.  Member state provided examples of the progress in their countries because of a commitment to nuclear free zones.

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