In Memoriam: Mr Boris Kvok, a staunch but anonymous supporter of the test ban

Boris Kvok, the director of the CTBTO’s on-site inspection division, passed away on 12 February 2010, only 50 years old. He leaves a wife and two children behind, as well as an organization grateful for his work.

After graduating from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1976 at the young age of 22, Mr Kvok joined the Soviet Foreign Service. He was immediately thrown into hot assignments, serving as a diplomat with the Soviet Embassy in Pakistan between 1978 and 1983. He later took up position in Moscow, continuing to work on South Asian issues.

In 1993, Mr Kvok took up a post with the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Here, he helped frame, and later bring into force, some quite remarkable arms control agreements: first the Chemical Weapons Convention and later the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. He returned to Moscow in 1998 to take the job of Deputy Director of the Disarmament and Security Affairs Department. In 2001, he was assigned the post of Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the International Organizations in Vienna. As such, he became a familiar, and friendly, face in the hallways and meeting rooms of the Vienna International Centre.

And so, in 2004, Mr Kvok arrived at the CTBTO On-Site Inspection Division. He quickly became highly respected by those who worked for him thanks to his extensive experience with test-ban issues. And it was his considerable experience as a diplomat that brought additional impetus to the work of the Division. Under his directorship, work on the on-site inspection manual sped up dramatically. He lobbied for, and saw through, several on-site inspection exercises, which culminated with the first integrated on-site inspection exercise in Kazakhstan in late 2008. But he was also known for his considerate and generous personality and his honest and straightforward attitude.

Perhaps surprisingly given his experience, he was less known outside the CTBTO. However, Mr Kvok also wrote several articles, and contributed to several books. His works include ‘On the Nuclear Tests in India and Pakistan’ (International Affairs, No. 5, Vol.44, 1998) and ‘On the Conference on Disarmament’ (International Affairs, No. 9, Vol. 41, 1995).

– Andreas Persbo, London and Vienna