01 April 2011

Opening remarks at press conference after meeting with IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano

Ban Ki-moon

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,

I know you have just heard from IAEA Director-General Amano on the nuclear problem in Japan, and I will return to that topic at the end of my remarks. But first I would like to talk to you about the latest developments regarding Afghanistan, Cote d'Ivoire and Libya.

I have just received word from our mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, that there has been an attack on our operations centre in Mazar-i-Sharif in the north of the country.

My Special Representative, Staffan de Mistura, is on his way there to deal with the situation personally on the ground. The details are still not completely clear but I can confirm, sadly, that UN personnel have been killed. This was an outrageous and cowardly attack against UN Staff, which cannot be justified under any circumstances and I condemn in the strongest possible terms.

I extend my condolences to those killed or wounded and their families. I have instructed my Special Representative to assess the situation there and take any necessary measures to ensure the safety of all UN Staff.

On Cote d'Ivoire, this afternoon I received an update from my Special Representative, Choi Young-jin, about the rapidly developing situation.

The United Nations mission in Cote d'Ivoire, UNOCI, will do everything it can to protect civilians and UN staff.

I want to take this opportunity to express my condolences on the death of Ms. Zahra Abidi, a Swedish citizen who worked as an information analyst at our mission's Joint Operation Centre. I extend my sincere sympathies to her family.

There has been too much bloodshed, including hundreds of civilians killed or wounded.

I renew my call on Mr. Gbagbo to step down to avoid further violence, and transfer power immediately to the legitimate winner of the election, President Ouattara.

I once again urge all parties – let me repeat all parties - to exercise restraint. I would remind all those who commit serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws that they will be held accountable.

On Libya, diplomatic efforts to seek a solution to the crisis continue.

My Special Envoy, Mr. Abdel-Elah Al-Khatib, has just concluded two days of talks in Libya, meeting with the authorities in Tripoli yesterday and with those in Benghazi today.

In Benghazi, he met with members of the Transitional National Council, including its leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

In Tripoli, he met with Libyan Government officials, including Mr. Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, the Prime Minister. Mr. Al-Khatib reiterated the calls of the international community for the full implementation of the Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973.

He emphasized the urgent need to immediately stop military action, cease all hostilities against the Libyan civilian population and end the assaults on cities and towns. He stressed the need to respect the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people and secure safe access for humanitarian assistance in all cities and towns, in addition to allowing for the safe return of migrant workers. He called for the release of all foreign journalists, including the four members of an al-Jazeera television crew.

He also highlighted the need for all sides to abide by the principles of relevant international conventions regarding the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me now turn to Japan.

We remain deeply concerned about the situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station.

The situation remains very serious.

The developments in Japan have prompted calls to reassess the international emergency response framework, and the nuclear safety regime.

We should take all necessary measures to ensure the highest possible standards for health, the food supply and the environment. We must also put in place a solid disaster response framework that includes accurate and actionable data.

The international community must strengthen the existing nuclear safety regime. While I believe nuclear energy will continue to serve as an important energy resource – particularly given the problem of climate change – I strongly encourage States to revisit their national policies and mechanisms on nuclear safety.

The IAEA is the leading international organization on this issue.

Other UN agencies, including many represented here at our meetings in Nairobi, are also active on this front.

Let us rededicate ourselves to help the people of Japan who are still bravely recovering from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that killed so many people and displaced so many more.

Thank you very much for your attention. I am now ready to take a few questions.