“A world free of nuclear weapons would be a global public good of the highest order.”
- Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
Nuclear weapons testing began with the first test on July 16, 1945 by the United States of America. Since then, nearly 2,000 nuclear tests have taken place. There has been scant consideration of the devastating effects of nuclear testing on human life, and no clear understanding of nuclear fallout from atmospheric tests. In the early years, having nuclear weapons meant scientific sophistication and military might.
Today’s nuclear weapons are far more powerful and destructive. History has brought to light the terrifying and tragic effects of testing nuclear weapons, especially when controlled conditions go astray.
On September 10, 1996, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) – the main mechanism for eradicating nuclear weapons testing by a large majority, exceeding two-thirds of the General Assembly’s Membership. It opened for signature in New York on September 24, 1996, and 71 States signed it, including five of the eight then nuclear-capable states. This international instrument, to put an end to all forms of nuclear testing has yet to enter into force. To date, 183 countries have signed the treaty and 159 have ratified and another 24 states have signed, but not ratified it. For the Treaty to come into force, States with significant nuclear capabilities must ratify it. There are still eight countries that will not ratify: China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.
Subsequent incidents worldwide brought about the need to observe an International Day against Nuclear Tests.
The 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly held on December 2, 2009, declared 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests through the unanimous adoption of its resolution 64/35 . The Preamble of the resolution emphasizes that “every effort should be made to end nuclear tests to avert devastating and harmful effects on the lives and health of people” and that “the end of nuclear tests is one of the key means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.”
The resolution was initiated by the Republic of Kazakhstan, together with a large number of sponsors and cosponsors to commemorate the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site on 29 August 1991 where the Soviet Union conducted 456 nuclear tests from 1949 until 1989 with little regard for their effect on the local people or environment.
The year 2010 marked the inaugural commemoration of the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Since then, each year, August 29th,has been observed as the International Day against Nuclear Tests by coordinating various activities throughout the world, such as symposia, conferences, exhibits, competitions, publications, instruction in academic institutions, media broadcasts and others. A number of events have been held at United Nations Headquarters, as well. Similar activities are planned for the 2013 observance.
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General has clearly stated: “A world free of nuclear weapons would be a global public good of the highest order.”
- The International Day Against Nuclear Tests (un.org)
- The International Day Against Nuclear Tests – Background and Developments (un.org)
- Semipalatinsk Test Site (en.wikipedia.org)
- Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (en.wikipedia.org)
- The 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (ctbto.org)
- STATUS OF SIGNATURE AND RATIFICATION (ctbto.org)
- Today Is the International Day Against Nuclear Tests 2012 (tvaraj.com).