24 September 1996

Press Release


19960924 Following is the text of the statement delivered today by Secretary- General Boutros Boutros-Ghali at the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty:

Just two weeks ago, the General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. This bold act realizes a long-standing objective of the international community.

Opening this Treaty for signature here today pays rightful tribute to the United Nations -- the Organization that the world created for itself to promote cooperation in pursuit of international peace and security.

Member States have given a striking demonstration of their commitment under the Charter to come together for this great purpose. We see a true global community in the making.

We are privileged today to witness a turning point in the history of efforts towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. A major milestone has been reached on the road to making the world a safer and more secure place for generations to come.

Today, you, the designated representatives of the States of the world, are taking the first step towards making this Treaty a part of international legislation. That process, in time, will confirm by the full force of international law the Treaty's objective of putting a permanent end to all nuclear test explosions anywhere on the planet.

Nuclear test explosions have alarmed and shocked most of the world with their terrifying might and their implicit threat to the very survival of civilization. More than 2,000 test explosions -- some small and some large, all of massive power -- have taken place in the atmosphere, under water and underground since the dawn of the nuclear era.

Fortunately for all of us, many governments have worked tirelessly to put an end to nuclear testing. Their resolve has been strengthened by a constant and passionate flow of petitions, appeals and support from the peoples of the world. I salute all those officials in governments and

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citizens who have struggled for so long to achieve this Treaty. Thank you all for making the world a safer place for our children and grandchildren.

The partial test-ban Treaty of 1963, limiting testing to the underground environment, was rightfully hailed as the first major step. The bilateral agreements in 1974 and 1976 between the United States and the former Soviet Union to cap the size of their underground tests were further steps in the right direction.

As significant as those agreements were, they were limited by the divisions, the culture and the mentality of the cold war.

It is a source of great gratification that this Treaty has been produced in a new international environment. A new era has opened.

During the Treaty's development, respectable differences were held by States over various provisions of the Treaty. But States became convinced that it was best to lay those differences aside. The adoption of this Treaty meets the demand of the great majority of the world's people for a clear signal that the nuclear arms race is coming towards its end.

Together, the global community has opted for a world where nuclear weapons will not be considered a choice for the defence of any State.

Actions always speak louder than words, and deeds will speak even louder than treaties. I appeal to all signatory States to ensure that their actions always conform to the purposes of the Treaty.

This Treaty is not an end in itself, but part of the process of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. It demonstrates that nuclear- and non- nuclear-weapon States are coming closer in intention and purpose.

This Treaty should reinforce international resolve to achieve a world free of the nuclear arms race, a world free of all nuclear weapons. I am grateful and proud to be Secretary-General of the United Nations at this historic moment.

As Depositary of the Treaty, I will perform my functions impartially, guided by the provisions of the Treaty, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and the general principles of international law. I will do everything that is required of me to ensure the success of this Treaty.

It is now my great honour to perform my duty under Article XVI of the Treaty.

I declare the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty officially open to all States for signature.

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For information media. Not an official record.