IN LARGER FREEDOM:
Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All
Introduction: A Historic Opportunity in 2005
In September 2005, world leaders will come together at a summit in New York to review
progress since the Millennium Declaration, adopted by all Member States in 2000. The
Secretary-General’s report proposes an agenda to be taken up, and acted upon, at the
summit. These are policy decisions and reforms that are actionable if the necessary
political will can be garnered.
Events since the Millennium Declaration demand that consensus be revitalized on key
challenges and priorities and converted into collective action. The guiding light in doing
so must be the needs and hopes of people everywhere. The world must advance the
causes of security, development and human rights together, otherwise none will
succeed. Humanity will not enjoy security without development, it will not enjoy
development without security, and it will not enjoy either without respect for human
In a world of inter-connected threats and opportunities, it is in each country’s self-interest
that all of these challenges are addressed effectively. Hence, the cause of larger
freedom can only be advanced by broad, deep and sustained global cooperation among
States. The world needs strong and capable States, effective partnerships with civil
society and the private sector, and agile and effective regional and global intergovernmental
institutions to mobilize and coordinate collective action. The United
Nations must be reshaped in ways not previously imagined, and with a boldness and
speed not previously shown.
I. Freedom from want
The last 25 years have seen the most dramatic reduction in extreme poverty the world
has ever experienced. Yet dozens of countries have become poorer. More than a billion
people still live on less than a dollar a day. Each year, 3 million people die from
HIV/AIDS and 11 million children die before reaching their fifth birthday.
Today’s is the first generation with the resources and technology to make the right to
development a reality for everyone and to free the entire human race from want.
There is a shared vision of development. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),
which range from halving extreme poverty to putting all children into primary school and
stemming the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, all by 2015, have
become globally accepted benchmarks of broader progress, embraced by donors,
developing countries, civil society and major development institutions alike.
The MDGs can be met by 2015 - but only if all involved break with business as usual
and dramatically accelerate and scale up action now.
In 2005, a “global partnership for development” -- one of the MDGs reaffirmed in 2002 at
the International Conference on Financing for Development at Monterrey, Mexico and
the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa -- needs to be fully implemented. That partnership is grounded in mutual responsibility and
accountability - developing countries must strengthen governance, combat corruption,
promote private sector-led growth and maximize domestic resources to fund national
development strategies, while developed countries must support these efforts through
increased development assistance, a new development-oriented trade round and wider
and deeper debt relief.
The following are priority areas for action in 2005:
National strategies: Each developing country with extreme poverty should by
2006 adopt and begin to implement a national development strategy bold enough
to meet the MDG targets for 2015. Each strategy needs to take into account
seven broad “clusters” of public investments and policies: gender equality, the
environment, rural development, urban development, health systems, education,
and science, technology and innovation.
Financing for development: Global development assistance must be more than
doubled over the next few years. This does not require new pledges from donor
countries, but meeting pledges already made. Each developed country that has
not already done so should establish a timetable to achieve the 0.7% target of
gross national income for official development assistance no later than 2015,
starting with significant increases no later than 2006, and reaching 0.5% by 2009.
The increase should be front-loaded through an International Finance Facility,
and other innovative sources of financing should be considered for the longer
term. The Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria must be fully
funded and the resources provided for an expanded comprehensive strategy of
prevention and treatment to fight HIV/AIDS. These steps should be
supplemented by immediate action to support a series of “Quick Wins” - relatively
inexpensive, high-impact initiatives with the potential to generate major shortterm
gains and save millions of lives, such as free distribution of anti-malarial
Trade: The Doha round of trade negotiations should fulfil its development
promise and be completed no later than 2006. As a first step, Member States
should provide duty-free and quota-free market access for all exports from the
Least Developed Countries.
Debt relief: Debt sustainability should be redefined as the level of debt that
allows a country to achieve the MDGs and to reach 2015 without an increase in
New action is also needed to ensure environmental sustainability. Scientific advances
and technological innovation must be mobilized now to develop tools for mitigating
climate change, and a more inclusive international framework must be developed for
stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions beyond the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012,
with broader participation by all major emitters and both developed and developing
countries. Concrete steps are also required on desertification and biodiversity.
Other priorities for global action include stronger mechanisms for infectious diseasesurveillance and monitoring, a world-wide early warning system on natural disasters,
support for science and technology for development, support for regional
infrastructure and institutions, reform of international financial institutions, and more
effective cooperation to manage migration for the benefit of all.
II. Freedom from fear
While progress on development is hampered by weak implementation, on the security
side, despite a heightened sense of threat among many, the world lacks even a basic
consensus - and implementation, where it occurs, is all too often contested.
The Secretary-General fully embraces a broad vision of collective security. The threats
to peace and security in the 21st century include not just international war and conflict,
but terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, organized crime and civil violence. They
also include poverty, deadly infectious disease and environmental degradation, since
these can have equally catastrophic consequences. All of these threats can cause death
or lessen life chances on a large scale. All of them can undermine States as the basic
unit of the international system.
Collective security today depends on accepting that the threats each region of the world
perceives as most urgent are in fact equally so for all. These are not theoretical issues,
but ones of deadly urgency.
The United Nations must be transformed into the effective instrument for preventing
conflict that it was always meant to be, by acting on several key policy and institutional
Preventing catastrophic terrorism: States should commit to a comprehensive
anti-terrorism strategy based on five pillars: dissuading people from resorting to
terrorism or supporting it; denying terrorists access to funds and materials;
deterring States from sponsoring terrorism; developing State capacity to defeat
terrorism; and defending human rights. They should conclude a comprehensive
convention on terrorism, based on a clear and agreed definition. They should
also complete, without delay, the convention for the suppression of acts of
Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons: Progress on both disarmament
and non-proliferation are essential. On disarmament, nuclear-weapon States
should further reduce their arsenals of non-strategic nuclear weapons and
pursue arms control agreements that entail not just dismantlement but
irreversibility, reaffirm their commitment to negative security assurances, and
uphold the moratorium on nuclear test explosions. On non-proliferation, the
International Atomic Energy Agency’s verification authority must be strengthened
through universal adoption of the Model Additional Protocol, and States should
commit themselves to complete, sign and implement a fissile material cut-off
Reducing the prevalence and risk of war: Currently, half the countries
emerging from violent conflict revert to conflict within five years. Member States
should create an inter-governmental Peacebuilding Commission, as well as a
Peacebuilding Support Office within the UN Secretariat, so that the UN system
can better meet the challenge of helping countries successfully complete the
transition from war to peace. They should also take steps to strengthen collective
capacity to employ the tools of mediation, sanctions and peacekeeping (including
a “zero tolerance” policy on sexual exploitation of minors and other vulnerable
people by members of peacekeeping contingents, to match the policy enacted by
Use of force: The Security Council should adopt a resolution setting out the
principles to be applied in decisions relating to the use of force and express its
intention to be guided by them when deciding whether to authorize or mandate
the use of force.
Other priorities for global action include more effective cooperation to combat organized
crime, to prevent illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and to remove the
scourge of landmines which still kill and maim innocent people and hold back
development in nearly half the world’s countries.
III. Freedom to live in dignity
In the Millennium Declaration, Member States said they would spare no effort to promote
democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for all internationally
recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms. And over the last six decades, an
impressive treaty-based normative framework has been advanced.
But without implementation, these declarations ring hollow. Without action, promises are
meaningless. People who face war crimes find no solace in the unimplemented words of
the Geneva Conventions. Treaties prohibiting torture are cold comfort to prisoners
abused by their captors, particularly if the international human rights machinery enables
those responsible to hide behind friends in high places. War-weary populations despair
when, even though a peace agreement has been signed, there is little progress towards
government under the rule of law. Solemn commitments to strengthen democracy
remain empty words to those who have never voted for their rulers, and who see no sign
that things are changing.
Therefore, the normative framework that has been so impressively advanced over the
last six decades must be strengthened. Even more important, concrete steps are
required to reduce selective application, arbitrary enforcement and breach without
consequence. The world must move from an era of legislation to implementation.
Action is called for in the following priority areas:
Rule of law: The international community should embrace the “responsibility to
protect”, as a basis for collective action against genocide, ethnic cleansing and
crimes against humanity. All treaties relating to the protection of civilians should
be ratified and implemented. Steps should be taken to strengthen cooperation
with the International Criminal Court and other international or mixed war crimes
tribunals, and to strengthen the International Court of Justice. The Secretary-
General also intends to strengthen the Secretariat’s capacity to assist national
efforts to re-establish the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict societies.
Human rights: The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should
be strengthened with more resources and staff, and should play a more active
role in the deliberations of the Security Council and of the proposed
Peacebuilding Commission. The human rights treaty bodies of the UN system
should also be rendered more effective and responsive.
Democracy: A Democracy Fund should be created at the UN to provide
assistance to countries seeking to establish or strengthen their democracy.
IV. Strengthening the United Nations
While purposes should be firm and constant, practice and organization need to move
with the times. If the UN is to be a useful instrument for its Member States, and for the
world’s peoples, in responding to the challenges laid out in the previous three parts, it
must be fully adapted to the needs and circumstances of the 21st century.
A great deal has been achieved since 1997 in reforming the internal structures and
culture of the United Nations. But many more changes are needed, both in the executive
branch - the Secretariat and the wider UN system - and in the UN’s intergovernmental
General Assembly: The General Assembly should take bold measures to
streamline its agenda and speed up the deliberative process. It should
concentrate on the major substantive issues of the day, and establish
mechanisms to engage fully and systematically with civil society.
Security Council: The Security Council should be broadly representative of the
realities of power in today’s world. The Secretary-General supports the principles
for reform set out in the report of the High-level Panel, and urges Member States
to consider the two options, Models A and B, presented in that report, or any
other viable proposals in terms of size and balance that have emerged on the
basis of either Model. Member States should agree to take a decision on this
important issue before the Summit in September 2005.
Economic and Social Council: The Economic and Social Council should be
reformed so that it can effectively assess progress in the UN’s development
agenda, serve as a high-level development cooperation forum, and provide
direction for the efforts of the various intergovernmental bodies in the economic
and social area throughout the UN system.
Proposed Human Rights Council: The Commission on Human Rights suffers
from declining credibility and professionalism, and is in need of major reform. It
should be replaced by a smaller standing Human Rights Council, as a principal
organ of the United Nations or subsidiary of the General Assembly, whose
members would be elected directly by the General Assembly, by a two-thirds
majority of members present and voting.
The Secretariat: The Secretary-General will take steps to re-align the
Secretariat’s structure to match the priorities outlined in the report, and will create
a cabinet-style decision-making mechanism. He requests Member States to give
him the authority and resources to pursue a one-time staff buy-out to refresh and
re-align staff to meet current needs, to cooperate in a comprehensive review of
budget and human resources rules, and to commission a comprehensive review
of the Office of Internal Oversight Services to strengthen its independence and
Other priorities include creating better system coherence by strengthening the role of
Resident Coordinators, giving the humanitarian response system more effective
stand-by arrangements, and ensuring better protection of internally displaced people.
Regional organizations, particularly the African Union, should be given greater support.
The Charter itself should also be updated to abolish the “enemy clauses”, the
Trusteeship Council and the Military Staff Committee, all of which are outdated.
Conclusion: opportunity and challenge
It is for the world community to decide whether this moment of uncertainty presages
wider conflict, deepening inequality and the erosion of the rule of law, or is used to
renew institutions for peace, prosperity and human rights. Now is the time to act. The
annex to the report lists specific items for consideration by Heads of State and
Government. Action on them is possible. It is within reach. From pragmatic beginnings
could emerge a visionary change of direction for the world.