Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul; Syria; Middle East; Sudan/South Sudan; and more

Seoul Nuclear Security Summit: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today outlined five areas that deserve greater attention as the world community strives to ensure nuclear security, from curbing terrorism financing to stricter control over fissile materials.

He set out five areas for collective action: bold steps to bridge the trust gap; emergency response, disaster risk reduction and resilience building; boosting the UN’s role; a stronger partnership with the nuclear industry and civil society; and progress on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Mr. Ban also highlighted the need to consolidate the global nuclear security architecture through universal adherence to international instruments and a rigorous review mechanism.

The Syrian Government has accepted the six-point plan put forward by the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan, who described the move as “an important initial step” to end the violence and urged President Bashar Al-Assad to put the proposal into effect immediately.

There are currently two missions in the Syrian capital addressing the crisis: a team of experts that is discussing ways to implement Mr. Annan’s six-point proposal, and a humanitarian team that – along with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – is assessing the humanitarian needs in the country.

Meanwhile, The United Nations on Tuesday increased its death toll estimate for the Syria unrest to more than 9,000.

Middle East peace process:
The situation between the Palestinians and Israel remains “uncertain and difficult,” the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry told the Security Council today, while warning of the increased risks of an absence of political progress and violence on the ground.

In the absence of progress, he added, there have been a number of “potentially worrying” developments in the West Bank and Gaza, including an increase in the number of Palestinians injured during search operations in the West Bank by the Israeli Defense Forces and a doubling of demonstrations and riots in the area, as well as continued Israeli settlement activity.

Sudan/S. Sudan:
The United Nations refugee agency today voiced concern over recurring fighting near the Yida refugee settlement in South Sudan, close to the border with Sudan, saying the clashes are putting residents of the camp at risk.

“Our concerns are heightened by clashes reported yesterday between the national armies of Sudan and South Sudan in Lake Jau and other border areas,” a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Melissa Fleming, told reporters in Geneva.

In total, more than 105,000 Sudanese refugees from the states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile have sought refuge South Sudan. Another 30,000 refugees fled Blue Nile into Ethiopia.

The United Nations mission in Haiti is worried that a scarcity of resources will prompt a further scale back on services to Haitians who were made homeless after the 2010 earthquake.

U.N. official Nigel Fisher said in a statement Tuesday that a request last year to international donors for $382 million only brought in 55 percent of that amount. That has led to the withdrawal of services in the camps that house thousands of people displaced by the earthquake.

The world body is now hoping to receive $53.9 million for the upcoming rainy season, which has begun to soak Haiti’s capital at night.

IAEA report:
The United Nations atomic energy agency today delivered its review of Japan’s revised nuclear safety assessment process a year after the country was shaken by one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

The review was undertaken by a team of eight UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts who visited the country in January at the request of the Japanese Government.

In their report, the IAEA team highlighted good practices while also identifying improvements that would enhance the overall effectiveness of Japan’s Comprehensive Safety Assessment process.

Papua New Guinea
: A United Nations independent expert today called on Papua New Guinea to reinforce mechanisms that protect women against violence.

“Accountability, rather than impunity, should become the norm for all acts of violence against women,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo. “The responsibility to prevent violence, protect against violence, provide remedies for victims, and to punish perpetrators for all acts of violence against women, is primarily an obligation of the State.”

Ms. Manjoo, who yesterday finished her fact-finding mission in the Pacific country, also urged authorities to address some traditional practices that are harmful to women, stating that even though tradition plays an important role in the daily lives of the population, violence should not be tolerated under any circumstances.