SG calls for strengthened nuclear safety standards, High Commissioner Pillay condemns use of cluster munitions in Libya and more from UN Direct

SG: The SG traveled to Chernobyl with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanokovych, and said that the recent Fukushima Daiichi power accident along with the nuclear crisis that took place in Chernobyl 25 years ago, have provided a strong message. He urged the UN and international community to strengthen nuclear safety standards, both at national and international levels.  The SG once more called for a thorough top-to-bottom review of nuclear safety standards. After the trip to Chernobyl, the SG addressed an international scientific conference on nuclear safety. On Thursday, the SG will head to Russia.

Security Council: This morning, Atul Khare, ASG for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council on UNMIS’ work. He reflected on the successful referendum, which demonstrated how the UN’s peace and security work can be effective when supported by a unified and coordinated international community. Khare also warned that several challenges lie ahead, including rising tensions in the South following the referendum. Also, the situation in Abyei remains volatile. In response, UNMIS has aided through political facilitation and increased military presence. UNMIS hasn’t been able to access its patrols in several conflict areas, however. Khare will brief the Council on the work of UNAMID, followed by consultations, later this afternoon. At 3 PM, Council experts will also hold a meeting to consider a draft resolution of the Sanctions Committee dealing with Resolution 1540 on non-proliferation.

Libya: Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the reported use of cluster munitions and heavy weaponry for Libyan government forces in their attempt to regain control of Misrata. She stated that such attacks on densely populated urban areas, resulting in substantial civilian casualties, could amount to international crimes. Furthermore, Pillay explained that it’s clear that the numbers of people who have died in Misrata are now substantial, and that the dead include women and children.  She urged Libyan authorities to stop the siege of Misrata and allow aid and medical care to reach the victims of the conflict. Pillay also urged NATO forces to exercise the utmost caution and vigilance in order to avoid killing civilians. Additionally, today, Valerie Amos, USG for Humanitarian Affairs and ERC, briefed the press on her recent trip to Libya.

Children in Middle East and North Africa: Today, Anthony Lake, the ED of UNICEF, expressed concern about the effects of violence on children caught in conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. He noted that at least 20 children have been killed and countless others were injured in Misrata. Meanwhile, at least 26 children were killed and more than 800 children reported to be injured in Yemen since early February. In Syria, nine children were killed and many injured over the last few weeks.