Publication: Evening Keynote: Lassina Zerbo
03 November 2016
Sanam Shantyaei, International Affairs Editor, France 24
Ladies and gentlemen, if I can ask you to take your seats. A very warm welcome to you all. I’m Sanam Shantyaei, a correspondent and international affairs editor for France 24, and I’m very pleased and honoured to have been invited here to introduce tonight’s keynote speaker to address today’s disarmament and non-proliferation challenges.
Now, this evening comes at a very pivotal moment for us all. We are only days away from one of the most talked-about elections in US history, ahead of which both candidates have gone beyond the usual mud-slinging. They’ve gone, what we like to call in the industry, ‘nuclear’, accusing each other of setting off a war among nuclear-armed nations should they win the election. Now, this is something that has previously defined the race to the White House, but certainly over the last decade it has become less and less palpable.
This, as the Russians are stepping up nuclear-war survival measures in the stand-off with Washington. This, as North Korea continues to conduct full-scale nuclear tests, despite punitive measures, very defiantly. This, however, as the CTBTO fights to find a working treaty – a treaty that is ratified by the remaining eight nations. And who better to address us this evening than the chief of that agency, Dr Lassina Zerbo, who has actually previously given the keynote speech here at the EU consortium.
Now, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Zerbo and his very dedicated team on a very cold winter’s night at the beginning of this year. But I must say, before I even got a glimpse of the man himself, I had the pleasure of hearing his voice, which was echoing in the lobby of this hotel which is a baguette’s throw from the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Ladies and gentlemen, this voice has not stopped bellowing since, and even prior to that, back in 2013 when he took that current position. It’s a passionate voice, a voice of a former geophysicist that fights to get a legally binding global ban on nuclear testing as he meets world leaders, representatives from international bodies, the youth which hold the key to our future and, of course, as we can see in this room here tonight, some of the greatest minds. Please join me in welcoming Dr Lassina Zerbo.