Making the whole world
a nuclear-weapons-free zone

“My goal – our goal – is to make the whole world a nuclear-weapon-free zone,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a gathering of Member States of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ) on 30 April 2010 in New York.

CTBT’s entry into force to complement NWFZ

Map showing all five existing Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones as well as Mongolia which enjoys nuclear-weapon-free status.

Ban called the nuclear weapon free zones the success story of the nuclear disarmament movement.   Important lessons were learned along the way, Ban added, one of them being that “the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty – CTBT – would complement and reinforce the status of nuclear-weapon-free zones.”

On the eve of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation (NPT) Review Conference, the UN Secretary-General called on participants to support efforts at the conference towards bringing the CTBT into force.

Over 100 Member States

There are currently five nuclear-weapon-free zones with altogether over 100 Member States: in Africa; Central Asia; Latin America and the Caribbean; South-East Asia and the South Pacific.  In addition, Mongolia is recognized as the only single State with a nuclear-weapon-free status.   Two of the nuclear-weapon-free zones have entered into force last year, the Central Asian and the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones.

Bound in spirit and letter

“Nuclear-weapon-free zones and the CTBT are bound in spirit and letter”, said Jean du Preez, representing the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). “They both contain legal obligations to prohibit nuclear tests,” he said and added that the CTBT “is already effectively in force in all the States covered by existing nuclear-weapon-free zones.”

30 Member States of nuclear-weapon-free zones still to ratify CTBT

Participants discussing at the second Conference on Treaties that Establish Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones.

Continuing on that thought, du Preez argued that “States covered by existing Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones should have no conceivable political obstacle to ratifying the CTBT.” He referred in particular to the 30 States among the 115 States under these zones that have not yet ratified the CTBT.

“The signing and ratification of the CTBT by these 30 States will make a significant impact on both universalization of the CTBT and its entry into force,” du Preez said and added: “I encourage them to ratify the CTBT without delay.”

Near universal support for CTBT

The Treaty enjoys near universal support having been signed by 182 States and ratified by 151. Nine States still need to ratify the CTBT for it to enter into force: China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.

Civil society representatives commend NWFZ States

A day earlier, the Civil Society Forum on Nuclear Weapon Free Zones took place at the United Nations in New York, bringing together 43 representatives of disarmament NGOs from all over the world.   Alexa McDonough of the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament presented the forum’s declaration and recommendation to the gathering. She said that Civil Society Forum participants shared the sense that there is a unique opportunity at the moment for real progress on nuclear abolition.  They also commended the Member States of nuclear weapon free zones “on their leadership promoting entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and developing its global verification system.”