Two Remain in Contention to Lead CTBTO

March 2021

Following voting last fall to choose the next executive secretary for the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), nominee Robert Floyd, director-general of the Australian Safeguards and Nonproliferation Office, fell one vote short of securing the two-thirds necessary. (See ACT, January/February 2021.)

The inconclusive outcome requires that signatories to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) repeat the process to select the next leader of the organization before the second term of the current executive secretary, Lassina Zerbo, expires July 31.

On Dec. 21, the chair of the commission for 2020, Faouzia Mebarki of Algeria, set a Feb. 5 deadline for nominations. On Jan. 8, Australia resubmitted the nomination of Floyd.

In her letter, Mebarki wrote that “[i]f the incumbent Executive Secretary is available, he will be deemed a candidate.” On Feb. 2, Zerbo responded by confirming his “ability and commitment to continue working and contributing as Executive Secretary.”

The CTBTO executive secretary is responsible for leading the organization’s work to maintain and operate the CTBT global verification regime in preparation for the treaty’s entry into force, as well as promoting its entry into force. The CTBT has been signed by 185 states and ratified by 170.

Sources tell Arms Control Today that the new chair of the CTBTO, Ivo Šrámek of the Czech Republic, is engaging in “intensive informal consultations to reach consensus” on the selection process. Šrámek says he intends to hold an informal meeting in March to brief delegates on the results of his consultations.—DARYL G. KIMBALL