U.N. commission to accelerate entry into force of CTBT

A group of eminent individuals will be established later this month to accelerate the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, a senior U.N. official said last week.

Lassina Zerbo, the executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, made the remarks at a U.N. Headquarters press conference. Zerbo said the commission is working day in and day out to make the treaty law. The commission is urging non-signatories to understand that ratification of the CTBT would improve international and national security.

Zerbo said the group of eminent persons would be named during the eighth Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT on September 27 in New York. The individuals will include former prime ministers and other highly regarded figures from states parties and non-signatory states to the CTBT.

There are 183 signatories to the CTBT, 159 of which have ratified the treaty. The treaty will only enter into force if all 44 states listed in its annex II ratify the agreement. States in annex II that have not ratified the instrument include Pakistan, Israel, Iran, India, Egypt, North Korea, China and the U.S.

When one correspondent said the U.S. never ratifies any treaty, Zerbo expressed an optimistic attitude.

"Hard work will pay off not far into the future," Zerbo said.

Zerbo said the region lagging the most on ratifying the treaty was the Middle East, though he noted there had been progress in the region nonetheless.