ANU Public Lecture Series
Date & time
In recent years, international institutions, multilateral agreements, and long-established global norms have come under pressure at a seemingly unprecedented rate. This is particularly alarming in the field of arms control and international security.
Is this trend a result of an inherent deficiency or imbalance in the international legal framework, painstakingly woven together over the past half century to combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction?
Are we in the midst of a paradigm shift away from multilateralism in arms control and international security? Or are these concerns exaggerated?
In addressing these critical questions, Dr Lassina Zerbo will reflect upon his own experience as head of an international organisation tasked with advancing nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and examine the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as a model to promote and preserve multilateralism in global affairs to address 21st century challenges.
Lassina Zerbo has served as Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) since August 2013. In this role, he has cemented the CTBTO’s position as the world’s centre of excellence for nuclear test-ban verification and has led efforts towards the entry into force and universalisation of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Key achievements under his leadership include the swift diplomatic response by the Organization to the 2016 and 2017 nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), through the provision of data and analysis of the events to CTBTO Member States in near-real time; the successful Integrated Field Exercise 2014 in Jordan, a simulated on-site inspection; the establishment of the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) and the CTBTO Youth Group to reinvigorate efforts towards entry into force and engage the next generation; the establishment of a permanent Equipment, Storage and Maintenance Facility (ESMF) to further develop the monitoring and verification system of the Treaty; as well as significant structural and administrative forms to make the Organization fit for purpose and integrated into the United Nations system.
Prior to his appointment, Dr Zerbo held the post of Director of the CTBTO International Data Centre, where he spearheaded the responses to the 2006, 2009 and 2013 DPRK nuclear tests, as well as to the 2011 triple disaster in Japan. He established and led the CTBT Science and Technology Conferences series and managed the successful deployment of the CTBT virtual Data Exploitation Centre (vDEC), which provides an innovative framework for interacting with the wider scientific community.
Dr Zerbo holds a PhD in Geophysics from Université de Paris XI and previously worked in leadership positions at BHP-Billiton and Anglo American plc, overseeing activities in Africa, Asia and Australia.
See here for an interview of Dr Lassina Zerbo by Professor Gareth Evans, Chancellor of The Australian National University.