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Tuvalu has ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), bringing the total number of Treaty ratifications to 172 and underscoring the Pacific island state’s commitment to ending all nuclear tests, everywhere.

The move was marked on 31 March 2022 in a Treaty ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, attended by Tuvalu’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Samuelu Laloniu, and Andrei Kolomoets, Officer-in-Charge of the Treaty Section of the UN Office of Legal Affairs.

“Our Pacific region has suffered from the effects of decades of nuclear testing. By ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, Tuvalu is reiterating its commitment to the elimination of all nuclear tests, everywhere,” Simon Kofe, the Foreign Minister of Tuvalu, said in a statement.

Robert Floyd, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), praised Tuvalu’s ratification and thanked the country for marking the 25th anniversary of the CTBT in the best possible way, by joining like-minded countries committed to banning nuclear testing.

“This not only demonstrates the country’s unwavering commitment to nuclear disarmament and peace, but it also brings the world closer to achieving a universal, non-discriminatory and effectively verifiable prohibition on nuclear tests,” Floyd said. “This is particularly significant in a region that has suffered from the serious impacts of nuclear testing on human health and the environment.”

Tuvalu signed the CTBT on 25 September 2018. In 2020, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum to the UN, Tuvalu identified the use and testing of nuclear weapons as one of the most serious threats to the community of nations and future generations.

“Our collective global goal must be to strive for a world that is free of nuclear weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction. But by doing so, it is important for every member of the global community of nations to take all necessary steps within its competence to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to help bring that treaty into force,” Laloniu said in that statement.

Hundreds of nuclear tests were conducted in the South Pacific between 1946 and 1996. In 1985 the Treaty of Rarotonga, establishing the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ), entered into force. Under this treaty, the use, possession and testing of nuclear weapons in the region is prohibited.

Only one country in the region has yet to sign the CTBT and all South Pacific countries have regularly voted in favour of CTBT resolutions at the UN General Assembly. In 2010 the Pacific Islands Forum in Vanuatu issued a strong statement in support of the Treaty.

“A ban on nuclear testing is one of the most useful tools to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The CTBT is thus a critical element in the global effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and promote nuclear disarmament,” said Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

Background

The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions everywhere, by everyone, and for all time. Adherence to the Treaty is nearly universal, with 185 signatory states and 172 ratifying states. However, to enter into force, the Treaty  must be ratified by all 44 States listed in its Annex 2, for which eight ratifications are still required.

The CTBTO has established an International Monitoring System (IMS) to ensure that no nuclear explosion goes undetected. Currently, 303 certified facilities – of a total of 337 when complete – are operating around the world. The data collected by the IMS can also be used for a wealth of civil and scientific purposes, including disaster mitigation measures such as tsunami warnings and the tracking of radioactive releases from a nuclear accident.
  For more information on the CTBT, see www.ctbto.org.