GA unanimously suspends Libya from HRC, SG briefs GA on humanitarian assistance, WFP’s Sheeran travels to Tunisia and more from UN Direct

Libya: at a historic GA session this afternoon, the GA voted, by consensus, to suspend Libya’s membership in the Human Rights Council.  In her remarks, Ambassador Rice said, “This unprecedented action sends another clear warning to Mr. Qadhafi and those who still stand by him: they must stop the killing. When the only way a leader can cling to power is by grossly and systematically violating his own people’s human rights, he has lost any legitimacy to rule. He must go, and he must go now.”  Rice also spoke to reporters after the vote.  On the humanitarian front, More than 140,000 people have escaped violence by fleeing to Tunisia and Egypt. Just yesterday, 14,000 crossed the border into Tunisia and UNHCR is appealing for all neighboring governments to maintain open borders.  WFP has sent 80 tons of food who have fled to Tunisia. The WHO stresses the need for urgent action to avoid the emergence of potential pandemic, due to the severe shortage of food and clean drinking water.

SG: This afternoon, the SG met with senior advisers on North Africa and the Middle East.  Afterwards, he met with States at the GA to consider their response to Libya’s seat on the HRC.  In his remarks to the GA, he said that the HRC’s decision to dispatch a commission to investigate abuses and the Security Council’s referral to the ICC send “send a strong and important message…there is no impunity…those who commit crimes will be punished…justice and accountability will prevail”.  He also detailed humanitarian assistance to Libya, stating that UN assessment teams will deploy to organize a humanitarian response on the ground in eastern and western Libya, and announcing that he will appoint a  Special Envoy to work closely with regional governments and the international community to coordinate a rapid and effective response.

Senior UN Staff Travel: Executive Director of the WFP Josette Sheeran is currently in Tunisia to discuss humanitarian needs with government officials.

Yemen: The High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned authorities in Yemen against any violent repression against planned protests today. She expressed that people have the legitimate right to express their grievances against their government, and cited attacks and forms of intimidation against local and international journalists. Pillay is concerned by reports of enforced disappearances of activists.

Côte d’Ivoire: UNHCR is calling for humanitarian access in the Abobo district in Côte d’Ivoire. Many people have fled but there are reports that armed groups are preventing people from leaving. In recent days, more than 29,000 have fled across the border to Liberia on top of the current high number of refugees. UNHCR has plans for another camp.

Launch of the Global Monitoring Report – Education for All: According to UNESCO’s 2011 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report launched today, armed conflict is robbing 28 million children of an education by exposing them to widespread rape and other sexual violence, attacks on schools, and other human rights abuses. The report goes into detail on the fact that the world is not on track to achieve the six Education for All goals, signed on to by 160 countries, by the target date of 2015. Most of the goals will be missed by a wide margin, especially in regions affected by armed conflict and violence.

Commission on Sustainable Development: the UN is currently convening a preparatory meeting for the upcoming Commission on Sustainable Development, which will be held May 2-13.  Speaking at the session yesterday, John Matuszak of the State Department said the challenge is to “change the way we view and use our natural resources while developing economically.  Economic growth should not and does not need to be ‘development at all costs’.  It should be balanced in a way that takes into consideration the environment, natural resources, and social issues addressing poverty and improving the status of women”.  He also cited President Obama’s commitment to clean energy future, and the U.S.’ Global Development policy, which “seeks to make economic growth and sustainable development mutually reinforcing”, adding that governments need to build the capacity of women and girls as “agents of change for economic advancement”.