Posted by: ctbtonewsroom | July 10, 2017

CTBT and the role of youth


By Rizwan Asghar,
CTBTO Youth Group member

Reproduced from Daily Times Pakistan, originally published on 8 July 2017.



The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the most logical next step to prevent the further spread of nuclear arms in both nuclear and non-nuclear states

“Universal ratification of the test ban treaty would be a step toward creating a truly global community of nations, in which all share the responsibility for humankind’s future.” — Mikhail Gorbachev

While writing these lines, I am attending the CTBT Science and Technology 2017 conference at the Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna. If there is one thing I have learned here from my interactions with scientists and scholars from all over the world, it is that nuclear weapons belong to the past. And with gradual but consistent efforts, we can not only achieve the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty but also make sure that we do not ever have testing of nuclear weapons anywhere on the planet.

On the broader non-proliferation agenda, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the most logical next step to prevent the further spread of nuclear arms in both nuclear and non-nuclear states.

In the famous words of the 42nd US President Bill Clinton, the CTBT is “the longest sought, hardest fought prize in arms control history.” As of June 2017, 166 countries have ratified and 183 have signed the treaty. Since the treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996, the rate of nuclear testing has greatly diminished. Although eight states have yet to ratify the treaty, North Korea is the only country that continues to conduct nuclear tests.

Most of the technical and scientific concerns raised two decades ago related to the verification of the CTBT have been resolved. The CTBT has a very effective and intrusive International Monitoring System (IMS), which is above 90% complete now. In addition to the ability to conduct on-site inspections, the CTBT’s International Data Centre (IDC) receives data from monitoring stations in real time and processes it to provide very reliable information regarding whether a nuclear explosion has occurred. It is high time we focused our efforts on gathering political will and power to make the dream of prohibiting the testing of nuclear weapons in all spheres a reality.

I do not want to sound pessimistic but we, CTBTO youth members, will not be able to persuade the decision makers in the remaining eight hold out states only through emotional appeals. What we really need is a great deal of concentrated thinking and the actual ability to take concrete steps towards ratification of the CTBT.

We should rise above the lower levels of narrow nationalism and realise how the continued existence of nuclear weapons anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere

I would suggest that Dr Zerbo or CTBTO team of experts should form a plan to communicate with youth members, from eight hold out states, from time to time, and guide their efforts to influence public opinion on a regular basis. Taking this step will not only make this whole process more constructive but also help ensure that strong words are being followed by strong actions. The CTBTO has spent enormous resources on its youth initiative, and youth members must go beyond voicing their verbal support for the vision of the CTBT. A desirable next step would be to identify stakeholders in all hold out states and device different country-specific strategies to influence official narratives about nuclear testing.

In September 2016, UN Security Council adopted a historical resolution, which called for the early entry into force of the CTBT and reaffirmed the global moratorium on nuclear weapons testing. In addition, two new states, Swaziland and Myanmar, ratified the treaty. These are remarkable achievements but efforts must continue until all 44 CTBT Annex 2 countries ratify the treaty. This is not going to be an easy task but we have a leader, Dr. Zerbo, to guide and keep us focused in this march against nuclear testing. It took the world more than five decades to secure ratification of the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons in war, by the United States. Disarmament advocates and CTBTO youth members must be ready to sustain a resolute approach towards achieving our ultimate goal.

More importantly, we should rise above the lower levels of narrow nationalism and realise how the continued existence of nuclear weapons anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere.

Nuclear weapons are a necessary evil, and we must make all possible efforts in the pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons. As a CTBTO youth member, I intend to look at all possible mechanisms to promote CTBT’s entry into force, and highlight the potential value of the treaty for each of the eight hold out states. Dr Zerbo, also known as ‘godfather’ of the CTBTO youth group, is a great source of inspiration and strength for young disarmament activists around the globe. His dream of a global ban on nuclear testing will be fulfilled in our lifetime. We need to let the world know that young people have a very critical role to play in the ongoing struggle toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Rizwan Asghar is one of the original members of the CTBTO Youth Group. He is also a PhD scholar at University of California, Davis. 

Read the original article here.



34759242513_a6e1df6e55_zReproduced from IDN (InDepthNews), the following article by Ramesh Jaura is the second in a series of two reports on the Science and Technology Conference

Read the full article here.



NEW YORK | VIENNA (IDN) – At a crucial point in time when the United Nations Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination has submitted a draft treaty and the international community is focussed on the North Korean ICBM threat, an international conference has underlined the need for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) becoming law without any further dithering.

Experts from around the world, joined by young professionals, attended the Science and Technology Conference of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) from June 26 to June 30, 2017 in Austria’s capital Vienna.

Addressing the first Preparatory Committee Session for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) 2020 Review Conference in May 2-12 in Vienna, CTBTO Executive Secretary Dr Lassina Zerbo emphasised that the status quo is not secure enough in an unstable geopolitical climate.

The CTBTO further stressed: “We must focus on advancing our common objectives in science and technology to increase trust and mutual understanding. Scientific collaboration is essential to achieving a world free from the nuclear threat. It is also vital for making progress on other global challenges, such as disaster risk reduction and mitigation, climate change, and sustainable development.”

Taking advantage of the presence of scientists and leaders of numerous countries, participants engaged in a lively exchange of knowledge and ideas across scientific disciplines. Such interaction helped ensure that the Treaty’s global verification regime remains at the forefront of scientific and technical innovation.

The huge amount of data collected by the stations can also be used for other purposes than detecting nuclear explosions. They can provide tsunami warning centres with almost real-time information about an underwater earthquake, thus helping to warn people earlier and possibly saving lives.

Read the full article by Ramesh Jaura here.

[IDN-InDepthNews – 5 July 2017]

35380381212_d40aede237_zReproduced from IDN (InDepthNews), the following article by Ramesh Jaura is the first in a series of two reports on the Science and Technology Conference. Read the full article here.

VIENNA (IDN) – “As youth, we are the future leaders of the world, the ones who will inherit and live in the world left behind for us, and the bearers of the hopes and dreams for our children and their children after them,” declared a group of young people who are members of the CTBTO Youth Group.

“Twenty years after the opening of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) for signature, we regret that this Treaty, which would establish a legally binding, comprehensive prohibition on nuclear explosive testing, has yet to enter into force,” said the Group in a joint statement.

The Group is open to all students and young professionals who are directing their careers towards global peace and security and who wish to actively promote the CTBT and its verification regime.

Currently, the Group has a membership of over 200 students and young professionals from around the world. The Group members share the common goal of achieving the entry into force of the CTBT. Through capacity building, members are empowered to use their individual voices, determine what the CTBT means to them, and convey this message in a manner that is meaningful to their peers and the community at large.

Furthermore, the resources offered to the group by the CTBTO serve to facilitate interaction among members for brainstorming, knowledge sharing, and the development of projects.

At the CTBTO Science and Technology Conference from June 26 to June 30, 2017 at Vienna’s glamorous and prestigious Hofburg Palace, the Group launched in February 2016 seemed to have come of age – thanks also due to the commitment of the Chief of CTBTO’s Public Information to ensure that the objective set out by Executive Secretary Dr Zerbo is achieved sooner rather than later.

The CTBTO Youth Group – represented by 70 members from over 50 countries – was not only an integral part of the Science and Technology conference deliberations. Youth participants also presented their own papers and outreach projects, participated in workshops and discussions, and tried their hands at “citizen journalism” in the ‘Youth Newsroom’ project.

In a series of events during the five days, the Group members also reaffirmed their commitment to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, a goal which is indubitably related to entry into force of the CTBT which bans nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere: on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, underwater and underground.

They proved their ability to revitalize the discussion around the CTBT among decision-makers, academia, students, expert society and media, to raise awareness of the importance of the nuclear test-ban, build a basis for knowledge transfer to the younger generation, involve new technologies into promoting the CTBT – social media, digital visualization, interactive means of delivering information, and the capability to place the CTBT on the agenda of the world’s most important nuclear-related events.

Read the full article by Ramesh Jaura here.

[IDN-InDepthNews – 2 July 2017]

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