CTBTO Youth Group visits the Centre to talk about the SDG implementation

“Half of the world is below age 25, and also half of the world is also women. Not only to have the youth as token voice but also to have youth at the table – is the key.”

BKMC CEO Monika Froehler said to the representatives of the CTBTO Youth Group that visited the Centre today. The group was briefed on the Centre’s mission and work and discussed on the topic of the SDG implementation and rooms for improvement.

Coming from all different countries such as Russia, Mexico, Iran, Egypt, Austria, the US, etc., the young leaders gathered raised issues on the lack of education provided on the SDGs, lack of local, national and regional strategies for implementing the SDGs, and lack of acknowledgement of the notion of global citizenship or awareness on global issues such as climate change.

“Only 7% of humankind knows of the notion of global citizenship,” said Froehler.

She stressed that young people and individuals should take concrete actions, no matter how small they may be: from signing petitions to talking to local politicians and to gathering youngsters to inform them of knowledge and to make changes together. Global Citizen was given as a good example of young people taking actions. It started as a small NGO founded by a couple of young people who made their small steps counted and grew their NGO to now a big entity that has influence on making social and political changes in the international community..

Froehler quoted former President of the United States John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

Keynote Speech of Heinz Fischer at the CTBT Science & Technology Conference

Keynote speech
Opening Ceremony of the CTBT Science & Technology Conference
Heinz Fischer
24 June 2019, Vienna

Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour and a privilege to be with you here today for this important science and technology forum.

My friend and colleague Ban Ki-moon regrets very much that he cannot be here today. Sad personal circumstances prevented him to come to Vienna and to speak at today’s Opening Ceremony of the Science and Technology Conference of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation.

Ban Ki-moon asked me to be here in his stead, and speak to you about the important role, the CTBTO continues to play for a peaceful and secure cohabitation of this planet.

He served as the CTBTO’s Chairman of its Preparatory Commission back in 1999. This shows, that this organisation has been dear to him since the initial years of its existence.

The basis of this keynote speech is the manuscript of Ban Ki-moon, transformed in my language with some personal observations from my side and shortened to a certain extent.

The CTBTO remains a shining example of how science and technology can help contribute to positive political and diplomatic outcomes.

The Treaty has had a significant positive impact since it was adopted in 1996. With the notable exception of North Korea, the CTBT has achieved de facto implementation despite not having entered into force, with no other nuclear state having carried out a nuclear test since 1998.

And despite the lack of entry into force, the CTBT and CTBTO have made important contributions in making it easier to detect nuclear tests, and in establishing a strong normative taboo against states carrying out nuclear tests.

This has made a notable contribution to protecting the world from the deeply harmful environmental and health impacts of nuclear testing, and is an important step on the path towards total disarmament.

All this has been possible because of the hard work and commitment of a group of scientists and technology experts who nearly thirty years ago undertook intensive, complex and sensitive groundwork to pave the way for a deal.

Their efforts made it easier for the diplomats to negotiate the final text, because there was already a scientific and technological consensus on the parameters.

Therefore, all of us express our admiration and gratitude for all that this organisation has done over the decades to support nuclear non-proliferation and the true cause of peace.

But I fear it is a bittersweet moment, because there is today an acute risk that rash and hubristic policy shifts could undo all the valuable work the CTBTO and others have achieved, bringing us closer to the brink of a devastating nuclear war than any time since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

We currently find ourselves at one of the most dangerous times for arms control efforts for many decades. The bilateral arms control architecture developed between the US and the Soviet Union towards the end of the Cold War is being rapidly unravelled, through a combination of neglect, hubris and erroneous threat analysis.

The risk of a catastrophic nuclear event, whether by accident or design, is increased by the paralysis in international bodies charged with upholding peace and security, most notably the United Nations Security Council.

Ban Ki-moon had the honour of addressing the Council earlier this month in New York as a member of The Elders, the group of independent leaders founded by Nelson Mandela who work for peace, justice and human rights.

Together with Mary Robinson, he spoke frankly to the Council and particularly its five permanent members – all nuclear-armed states – to remind them of their uniquely heavy responsibility to develop effective processes of non-proliferation and disarmament.

But there are only few signs of the P5 and other states with nuclear weapons capabilities showing willing to meet these, as national and international politics appears increasingly driven by polarisation, isolationism and an alarming disdain for the very principles of multilateralism.

The imminent expiration of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in August is the most significant blow, with the potential to threaten the stability not only of Europe, but also much of Asia, if it leads to a renewed arms race involving the US, China, India and Pakistan.

The decision of US President Donal Trump to withdraw from the INF is symptomatic of a much broader negative context of unilateral moves and repudiation of previous agreements.

Consider the possible collapse of the JCPOA – an agreement negotiated so painstakingly here in Vienna, and which was universally deemed to be working well before the American decision, with all the implications we see now for rising tensions between Iran and the United States and wider Middle East security.

Consider as well the recent US withdrawal from the Arms Trade Treaty, and growing concern as to whether the New START treaty between the US and Russia will be extended beyond February 2021.

The world needs to wake up to the severity of the current threat, and the nuclear states must get serious about taking steps towards disarmament to avert an incalculable catastrophe.

Nuclear weapons constitute an existential threat to the future of humanity, just as much as climate change.

And just as science plays an indispensable role in the fight against climate change, so it must now be mobilised in the service of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

This includes exact and dispassionate analysis of new technological developments that risk complicating and destabilising traditional practices of arms control and disarmament, including artificial intelligence, cyber-technology and space-based delivery and tracking systems.

In the longer term, total disarmament is likely to require the multilateral agreement of a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

This may seem a remote prospect today.But, in order for such a convention to be a realistic possibility in the future, there is an important need for substantial work to be done now to find technological solutions that can enable total disarmament to take place with confidence that effective verification and enforcement mechanisms are in place.

All of us need to treat these issues with the utmost seriousness and urgency.

This is why The Elders have launched a new initiative on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, which was presented by Mary Robinson and Lakhdar Brahimi to the Munich Security Conference this February.

They are calling on the nuclear powers to pursue a “minimisation agenda” that could help to reduce the nuclear threat and make concrete progress towards disarmament.

Nuclear states should and must make progress in four areas:

  • doctrine – all states making a “no first use” declaration;
  • de-alerting – taking almost all nuclear weapons off high alert status;
  • deployment – dramatically reducing the numbers of weapons actively deployed;
  • and decreased numbers – for Russia and the US to adopt deep cuts in warhead numbers to around 500 each, with no increase in warheads by other states.

Above all, the nuclear states must work to reduce tensions and take practical, concrete steps to demonstrate to the world that they do not intend to keep these weapons indefinitely.

In this regard, it would be a tremendously positive step for the nuclear states to make concrete progress towards finally bringing the CTBT into force. Ban Ki-moon is calling upon the eight remaining “Annex 2 states” who have not yet ratified the CTBT – six of whom possess nuclear weapons – to do so at the earliest opportunity. There is no good reason to fail to sign or ratify this treaty, and any country that opposes this is failing to meet its responsibilities as a member of the international community.

 

Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Steps towards disarmament need to be implemented with the understanding that the binary divide of the Cold War, with Washington on the one side and Moscow on the other, is no longer dominant.

Instead we live in a world of interlinked nuclear chains, where decisions by one state can have a ripple effect beyond any one immediate strategic environment. The threatened collapse of the INF is a case in point; its demise will not just raise security threats on the European continent but also spark instability and potential strategic escalation in other regions, especially Asia.

The only way to tackle these threats is to internationalise and multilateralise the issue, including via the United Nations and bodies such as the CTBTO. Only by facing this threat together, as a global community, can we hope to find a durable solution.

No country individually, nor the international system collectively, has the capacity to cope with the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons.

When the first atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, it made no distinction between combatants and civilians, old and young, or victims and the first responders trying to help them.

For the very survival of humanity, nuclear weapons must never be used again, under any circumstances. The only guarantee of the non-use of nuclear weapons is their complete abolition.

We will only reach this goal if the broad mass of humanity understands the urgent nature of the threat, and the political and moral imperative for drastic action to cut the number of warheads and fundamentally reassess strategic defence postures and doctrines.

This means we need to think as global citizens. On the initiative of Ban Ki-moon, we established the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens here in Vienna in 2018.

The Ban Ki-moon Centre works to empower women and young people to act as global citizens and to contribute to the accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In this context, it is utmost necessary to mobilise young people to better understand and tackle the nuclear threat.

Later today, at 2 pm, the Ban Ki-moon Centre will co-host the Youth Forum on Global Citizenship and Youth Inclusion. In a lively session we will focus on the ways youth can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs as well as to peace and security. The Forum will take place in this same hall, and I am looking forward to seeing many of you there, because I am convinced that the idealism of young people will be a powerful motivating force in the fight against nuclear weapons.

I know that all of you here understand the seriousness of the issue, and I look forward to intensive, focused and principled discussions ahead.

But I also hope that we can all find time to step back for a moment from detailed technical and scientific analyses and reflect on the political choices that have led us to today’s situation, and what questions we should ask of our leaders to put humanity on a different path.

To my mind, no-one summed this up better than Nelson Mandela, perhaps the greatest moral statesman of the twentieth century.

In 1998, as President of the new, multi-racial, democratic South Africa, he addressed the UN General Assembly on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and posed a challenge to the leaders of the nuclear powers:

“We must ask the question, which might sound naïve to those who have elaborated sophisticated arguments to justify their refusal to eliminate these terrible and terrifying weapons of mass destruction – why do they need them anyway?

In reality, no rational answer can be advanced to explain what, in the end, is the consequence of Cold War inertia and an attachment to the use of the threat of brute force.”

His words still ring true today. The time to act is now: otherwise we risk slipping from inertia into irreversible rigor mortis.

Thank you.

“Towards Global Peace:

Strengthening Youth’s Involvement in the Global Nuclear Dialogue”

Keynote Speech by Dr. Heinz Fischer

Address

It is an honour to speak here today about the important topic of youth’s involvement in the global nuclear dialogue.

CTBTO, as you sure all know, works towards preventing the usage and further development of nuclear weapons through binding agreements and is thus working towards sustainable peace. I am proud that their headquarter is located in Vienna and happy that the Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo is here with us today. The Vienna office was founded in 1996 and counts more than 260 staff form over 70 countries.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you, Executive Secretary Zerbo, on your excellent work, professionalism and dedication for more than 5 years. Mister Zerbo is a key player in forwarding the CTBT efforts and was responsible for creating the CTBTO Youth Group.

Ever since the existence of humans on this planet, war was part of our history and shaped our history. There have never been long periods of time that war did not interrupt.

The second World War was one of the most devastating wars humanity has ever experienced – counting globally 80 near to million victims.

World War II, at its end in 1945, was the first and last war that saw the actual use of nuclear weapons – we all remember, or heard, or read, about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I think I do not need to mention, that the use of nuclear weapons results in an enormous number of casualties and in an unimaginable catastrophe.

So, as of 1945, a new chapter of history was born, the period of nuclear proliferation and the danger of nuclear war.

On the one hand, and here I am referring to Henry Kissinger’s argument, nuclear weapons could contribute to stability on a regional and global level, because nobody wants to carry the responsibility of actually using them. I want to mention the example of the so-called Cold War, where the two big powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, were in a constant nuclear arms race. But they have not been used against each other. The costs and risks of nuclear weapons are so high that it establishes the fear of mutual destruction.

On the other hand, we have no guarantee that this calculation is functioning in every possible situation. Nuclear weapons are the most destructive weapons on our planet and are becoming more and more sophisticated and dangerous. The only logical action should be to decrease, in the best-case scenario fully abolish, the development of nuclear weapons.

9 countries are currently in possession of atomic weapons – The US, Russia, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea. Each of these countries holds a very powerful tool and with this probably also the biggest responsibility in the world.

The security and nuclear dialogue amongst the international community has recently increased, with one of the reasons being the withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal by the United States under President Trump one year ago. This could have very dangerous consequences.

Another reason is the unsolved situation and ongoing tensions between North and South Korea and the unpredictable policy of President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

I personally think that everyone has the responsibility to contribute to a peaceful world without nuclear weapons. Women and youth play a particularly important role in the fight against war and against nuclear weapons.

I remember in 1953, when I was at the age of 15, we were discussing topics of peace and war and nuclear weapons at an international youth conference on peace and disarmament in Vienna. Some of my close friends, who were influenced by that period, later became high-level politicians in Europe.

When I look back at the youth movements of my time, I truly believe that young activists had a great influence on political actions against the Vietnam War, on the Peace Movement in the 70s, as well as on the negotiations about disarmament treaties in the Gorbatschow Era.

It would be wrong to think that these movements are not important anymore today. On the contrary! The fact is that the classical confrontation between the East and the West is behind us, but instead we experience many different violent regional conflicts, tensions and threats, so, I see youth involvement more important than ever!

Modern technology is supporting these movements by delivering different ideas and messages at high speed across the globe and connecting youth with similar interests. Social networks make coalition building easier. But also, conferences like this one today bring youth together to share ideas about how we can make peace sustainable.

 

Today we are discussing youth involvement in the global nuclear dialogue. Looking at a broader picture, it is however not only about nuclear weapons. Recent trends show that the world spent 1.7 trillion dollars last year on militaries and weapons in general. It is only normal that youth steps in and claims how much of this money could have been used for education, economic development and even for the implementation of the Agenda 2030.

Citing from the 2017 Youth and Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations in New York: “The maintenance and modernization of nuclear arsenals has a long-term impact on youth by diverting funding from activities that could make our future better to one that poses a real and concrete threat to humanity.”

As already mentioned above, nuclear threats are also highly linked to the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals, in which youth is greatly involved as well. First, and this is the most obvious connection, nuclear weapons disrupt peace and justice (SDG16).

Second, tensions occurring from the development of new nuclear weapons and its testing, could be turned into cooperation from joint verification of nuclear disarmament agreements. This could in turn lead to stronger partnerships in the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and give weight to SDG 17.

A third and crucial connection between nuclear disarmament and the SDGs is the impact of atomic weapons on our environment (SDG13, 14 and 15). The use of nuclear weapons would create such a catastrophic human and environmental consequences that achieving the SDGs would be out of reach.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Having said all this, I want to thank everyone for participating in nuclear dialogues and making it inclusive by incorporating more and more women and youth.

I can tell you from my side that one of Austria´s top foreign policy priority is the achievement of a nuclear weapon free world. The construction of the Equipment Maintenance and Storage Facility (ESMF) in Seibersdorf near Vienna has further strengthened the link between CTBTO and Austria.

I hope that other countries will also soon acknowledge that (and here I quote) “the world is over-armed and peace is under-funded”.

Thank you.

“Towards Global Peace: Strengthening Youth’s Involvement in the Global Nuclear Dialogue”

On Friday, May 31th, “Towards Global Peace: Strengthening Youth‘s Involvement in the Global Nuclear Dialogue” took place at the Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.

The event featured distinguished speakers including Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo of the The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and both Co-chairs and Board members of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens:

  • Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Heinz Fischer, former President of Austria
  • Ambassador Kim Won-soo, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs
  • Ambassador Shin Dong-ik, former Korean Ambassador to Austria

Ban expressed the importance of engaging youth as change makers in the field of disarmament and the nuclear dialogue as well as in addressing climate challenges.

He stressed that “global leadership is very important, rather than national leadership” in solving global issues and achieving peace.

Fischer rightly pointed out that “nuclear threats are highly linked to the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals” and that the involvement of the youth plays a key role in advancing the overall Global Goals.

Zerbo added that young people are the leaders of today, not tomorrow, encouraging young participants,

“we should achieve a nuclear-free world together with youth, together with you.”

Pictures by the IGEE

Luncheon with the Heads of the international organizations in Vienna

Ambassador Shin Dong-ik of the Korean Embassy in Vienna hosted a luncheon with the Heads of the International Organizations (IO) based in Vienna at his residence on November 15th, 2018. Including the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens’ partners KAICIID and IACA, delegates from varied organizations such as UNIDO, CTBTO, UNOV, OSCE, and IAEA attended the lunch meeting.

With the presence of the Centre’s Co-chair Ban Ki-moon and Board members, Ambassador Shin and KAICIID Senior Advisor Andrea Pfanzelter, during the luncheon, the Ban Ki-moon Centre shared its work and discussed potential areas of collaborative work with the IOs. As the Centre’s aim and work is broadly supported by the actors in the international community and the governments of different states, it has rapidly grown and will furthermore wield its influence to advance the SDGs with the help of its vast global partnership.