The historic pact of Latin America and the Caribbean States to maintain a nuclear-weapon-free zone, the first-ever of its kind, has withstood the test of time and should spur greater efforts to rid the world of these arms, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday in honoring the 40th anniversary of the landmark agreement.
Mr. Ban hailed the success of The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, also known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco, an area in Mexico City, as it has become the archetype for other regional denuclearized zones. At present, there are virtually no such weapons in the entire southern hemisphere, offering further proof of the Treaty's accomplishments. "The agreement represented an important commitment by Latin American and Caribbean governments to use nuclear materials and installations for purely peaceful purposes to the benefit of their citizens," Mr. Ban said in remarks delivered by Nobuaki Tanaka, the Under Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs today at a ceremony held at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Mexico City. The Treaty of Tlatelolco has been followed by other regional agreements establishing denuclearized zones: the South Pacific's Treaty of Rarotonga of 1986, the Pelindaba Treaty of 1996 covering the African continent, the 1997 Bangkok Treaty for South-East Asia and the agreement signed by five Central Asian countries in Semipalatinsk last September. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Mexico's Alfonso García Robles acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize for his ground-breaking work in spearheading and implementing the Tlatelolco agreement, adopted 40 years ago this Wednesday. The Secretary-General lauded the Treaty's creation of an innovative verification system to boost confidence in compliance and the Protocol obligating nuclear weapons-possessing States to neither use nor threaten to use such weapons against Treaty signatories. "I hope this commemoration can help energize efforts to halt, and reverse, the spread of nuclear weapons," Mr. Ban said, echoing previous statements he has made in urging States to not expand nuclear arsenals and also to reduce existing stockpiles. "Together, we should work towards the day when all regions of the world are finally free of nuclear weapons." The ceremony will be followed by a day and a half long series of seminars to assess the impact of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, both regionally and internationally.