Ban emphasizes UN’s role in global efforts on nuclear safety

20 May 2011

Stressing that the United Nations has a “clear role to play” in nuclear safety, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that he would present world leaders with ideas on disaster preparedness at the annual meeting of the General Assembly this September.

Speaking at a video conference with the heads of UN agencies to discuss the implications of the damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami in March, Mr. Ban said nuclear safety is a matter of “global public interest.”

“The UN has a clear role to play in facilitating this discussion,” he said. “To advance this agenda, I will convene a high-level meeting on 22 September on nuclear safety and security.”

Mr. Ban said that at that meeting he would “present a UN system-wide study on the implications of the nuclear accident at Fukushima.”

“The report will touch on a variety of areas, including environment, health, food security, sustainable development and the nexus between nuclear safety and nuclear security. It will also present system-wide views on how to improve disaster risk preparedness.

“As I said when the world marked the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the time has come for a global rethink on nuclear energy and safety issues. While acknowledging that each State has the right to define its national energy policy, our common objective is to deepen our understanding of the entire range of issues relating to development of nuclear energy and its safety transcending national borders. Going forward, the effects of a nuclear plant disaster – from prevention to clean-up – should be more fully reflected in the assessment of how to ensure the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and maximum safety.”

The Secretary-General presented a five-point action plan on nuclear safety last month during a visit to Kiev, Ukraine.

Earlier this month he told a disaster risk reduction conference in Geneva that “we must accelerate our efforts. The world’s vulnerability to disaster risks is growing faster than our ability to increase resilience. As a result of global climate change, weather-related hazards are on the rise. Nuclear safety and the threat of multiple hazards add an even greater sense of urgency.”

The video conference is part of a series of such system-wide meetings with UN experts and agency chiefs to analyse the implications of the Fukushima incidents, and draw conclusions on nuclear and other risk preparedness.

The meeting’s participants included: Yukio Amano, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Tibor Toth, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Preparatory Commission; Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction; and senior representatives of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

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