Remarks at the International Day Against Nuclear Tests

Your Excellency, Ms. Raushan Yesbulatova, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
Mr. Rongvudhi Virabutr, Deputy Director-General, Department of International Organisations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand
Your Excellency, Mr. Shiro Sadoshima, Ambassador of Japan,
Your Excellency, Mr. Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli, Ambassador of Nigeria
Mr. Juan Manuel Gonzalez Bustos, Charge d’ Affaires, Embassy of Mexico
Ms. Judith Schildberger, Charge d’ Affaires a.i., Embassy of Austria
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Before I begin my remarks, allow me to read a message from United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres:
“The International Day against Nuclear Tests marks the closing, in 1991, of the nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, the largest in the former Soviet Union. More than 450 tests took place there, with impacts still being felt decades later.
But this observance also has a broader message. It commemorates all victims of nuclear tests, anywhere they have been conducted. Affected communities have yet to fully recover from the environmental, health and economic damage.
Honoring those victims requires bringing nuclear testing to a permanent end. Yet, an effective and legally-binding prohibition remains one of the longest unfulfilled goals of nuclear disarmament. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a central pillar of international efforts, but despite being widely supported – with 184 signatories and 168 ratifying States – it has not yet entered into force, more than 20 years after its adoption.
The legacy of nuclear testing is nothing but destruction. The CTBT is vital to ensuring there are no more victims; it is also essential to advancing nuclear disarmament.
On the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, I reiterate my call for all States that have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the Treaty, especially those whose ratification is needed for the Treaty’s entry into force. In a world of rising tensions and divisions, our collective security depends on it.”

On this day, we look back on the troubled history of nuclear testing. Over 2,000 nuclear tests have been conducted in the last seven decades. They have harmed some of the world’s most vulnerable communities and left devastating impacts on our environment, health, food security and economic development.

This is a legacy we cannot continue for our future generations.

On 2 December 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 64/35 initiated by the Republic of Kazakhstan and declared today, 29 August, as the International Day against Nuclear Tests. This commemoration serves not only as a sign of respect to victims of the past, but also as a compelling reminder to us all of the persisting threat nuclear weapon tests pose and the need to put an end to them.

Nuclear testing places a strain on multilateralism and our collective efforts to achieve SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions both in our region and across the world. While a robust global norm has developed against nuclear testing, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty has yet to enter into force. I urge ESCAP member States to facilitate a breakthrough and welcome all efforts to bring about a complete testing ban.

To quote UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “it is true that we live in challenging circumstances, but this can be no excuse for walking away from our shared responsibility to seek a more peaceful international society.” Let us commemorate this day by taking the lead in Asia and the Pacific and strengthen our commitments to embrace a world free of nuclear weapons. Let us promote a peaceful, stable future for generations to come.

Thank you.