Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco

February 20, 2017

Panel presentation at the 50th Anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco International Seminar

On February 13-14 2017, Dr. William Potter, founding director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and Sarah Bidgood, a research associate at the Center, traveled to Mexico City to participate in a series of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Treaty of Tlatelolco. The Treaty, which established the first nuclear-weapon-free zone in a densely populated area in 1967, prohibits the testing, use, manufacture, production, or acquisition of nuclear weapons in 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its chief negotiator, Mexican diplomat Alfonso Garcia Robles, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982 for his contributions.

Sarah Bidgood and Diana Ballestas de Dietrich present on the CTBTO Youth Group at the 50th Anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco International Seminar

The events in Mexico City commenced with an international seminar hosted by OPANAL, the organization responsible for ensuring compliance with the Treaty, on February 13th. The seminar comprised two panels featuring international leaders in the field of nonproliferation, including former US secretary of defense Dr. William J. Perry, vice chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative Lord Desmond Browne, Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Mr. Kim Won-Soo, former High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Ms. Angela Kane, Ambassador Jayantha Dhenapala, and others. Both panels were followed by a debate session, enabling audience members to explore issues such as the future of the nonproliferation regime and the role of zone treaties in achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. On the afternoon of the 13th, Ms. Bidgood and Diana Ballestas de Dietrich of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) hosted a side event on the CTBTO Youth Group entitled “Towards a World Free of Nuclear Weapons: Roundtable Discussion on the

Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Dr. Lassina Zerbo and President Enrique Peña Nieto

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Role of Youth.” The CTBTO Youth Group was founded in February 2016 and seeks to support the next generation of nonproliferation specialists in promoting the entry into force of the Treaty. In their remarks, Ms. Bidgood and Ms. Ballestas de Dietrich focused on the connection between zone treaties and the CTBT, as well as activities that youth from the OPANAL member states could undertake to advance the CTBTO’s ratification. A number of the side event participants subsequently indicated their intention to join the group.

Following the conclusion of the International Seminar, OPANAL celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco at their General Conference on February 14th, an event which took place in the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The highlight of the morning session of the Conference was an appearance by the President of Mexico, who delivered remarks praising the Treaty and highlighting its significance to international peace and security. During the afternoon session, national delegations and representatives from international organizations delivered statements recognizing the role of the Treaty in supporting the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, underscored in his remarks the role of the next generation in advancing nonproliferation and disarmament efforts.

Dr. Potter and Ms. Bidgood returned from Mexico City on the 15th, but events celebrating the Treaty’s 50th anniversary continued in Monterey this past week. A special public seminar coordinated by the Center, the Mexican Consulate in San Jose, and MIIS was delivered by Ambassador Joel Hernandez, Director General for the UN System at the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs, recognizing the Treaty’s anniversary on February 17th in the CNS building. This event was accompanied by an exhibition of photographs commemorating the Treaty, which will be on display in the Samson Student Center Reading Room until February 24th.

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