By Sarah Bidgood
CTBTO Youth Group member
Originally published on NonProliferation.org, 9 May 2017.
On May 4, 2017, Monterey-based members of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Youth Group delivered a panel presentation entitled, “ Enhancing the Role of the CTBT in the NPT Review Process” in Vienna, Austria at the 2017 Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. MIIS Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies MA candidates Sylvia Mishra, Joseph Rodgers, Maggie Rowland, Raymond Wang, and Paul Warnke, along with CNS research associate Sarah Bidgood, comprised the panel. The side event focused on highlighting areas where the objectives of the CTBT and the NPT align closely. In their presentation, the Youth Group members identified ways to emphasize this relationship during the 2020 NPT review cycle to more effectively fulfill the goals of both Treaties while promoting the entry into force of the CTBT.
The basis for the side event was a research paper written by the presenters, an executive summary of which was provided to attendees at the side event. A full version of the document was made available online. The side event was moderated by Dr. William Potter, founding director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. UK Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Vienna Leigh Turner delivered closing remarks.
In establishing the rationale for their study, the six Youth Group members began their presentation with an overview of the historical connection between the banning of nuclear testing and nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament efforts. On this basis, they argued that neither the CTBT nor the NPT can be fully effective without the other. They then identified for the audience four areas where these two Treaties are mutually reinforcing and made concrete recommendations to advance the objectives of both during the 2020 NPT review cycle. These included revisiting previously-agreed NPT language that reinforces support for the CTBT; emphasizing of the importance of the CTBT’s verification regime to the NPT; recalling the CTBTO’s role as a leader in disarmament and nonproliferation education, particularly with regard to the next generation; and calling for the CTBT and the NPT to lead in increasing gender diversity in nonproliferation and disarmament efforts.
The special role of the next generation in advancing the nonproliferation and disarmament agendas was both emphasized and evidenced at the side event: In her opening remarks, Elisabeth Waechter of the CTBTO underscored the unique importance of youth in advancing the entry into force of the CTBT. Dr. Potter, meanwhile, struck upon the need for a next generation of experts that knows how to think, and not just what to think, about challenging disarmament and nonproliferation issues. The research findings produced by the CYG members exemplified the potential for emerging experts to make creative—yet practicable—contributions to solving longstanding disarmament and nonproliferation challenges. The majority of the authors participated in Prof. Potter’s NPT simulation course in Monterey, and they utilized their in-depth knowledge of that Treaty to make realistic proposals that they felt could attract widespread, multilateral support. Ambassador Turner praised the utility of the group’s recommendations in his closing remarks, and the response from the audience of approximately seventy States Parties delegates and members of civil society was similarly positive. The impact of the authors’ proposals was independently reinforced the next day when the Irish delegation referenced the event’s emphasis on increasing gender diversity in a statement they delivered on Disarmament Education.
The CTBTO Youth Group was established by CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo in February 2016. Twenty-two of over 150 youth group members worldwide are based at MIIS and CNS. The CYG supports the efforts of the next generation to advance the entry into force of the CTBT, which opened for signature in 1996 but has yet to be ratified.