Secretary-General welcomes recommendations on a more secure world and strengthened United Nations
NEW YORK, 2 December: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today gave strong support to an eagerly awaited report on meeting the world's new and evolving security threats, presented to him this morning by the chairman of an independent panel, former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun of Thailand.
"I wholly endorse its core arguments for a broader, more comprehensive system of collective security: one that tackles both new and old threats, and addresses the security concerns of all States - rich and poor, weak and strong," the Secretary-General said, in a letter transmitting the report, A more secure world: Our shared responsibility, to the UN General Assembly for consideration and action.
"The report offers the United Nations a unique opportunity to refashion and renew our institutions," he says in the letter, and promises to quickly consider and implement specific recommendations that fall within his purview. He urges other UN bodies to do the same.
In particular, the Secretary-General pledges to take a lead in promoting a new comprehensive strategy against terrorism, and to articulate his vision for consideration by governments in the new year.
The panel of 16 former heads of state, foreign ministers, security, military, diplomatic and development officials reaffirms the right of states to defend themselves, including pre-emptively when an attack is imminent, and says that in the case of "nightmare scenarios" - for instance those combining terrorists and weapons of mass destruction - the UN Security Council may have to act earlier, more proactively and more decisively than in the past.
On issues such as the rules governing use of force, "that go to the heart of who we are as the United Nations and what we stand for", the Secretary-General says that decisions should be taken by world leaders at a special UN summit scheduled for next September. "I cannot over-emphasize how important a new consensus on this issue is for a renewed system of collective security," he adds.
Mr. Annan plans to submit a report of his own in March, factoring in the panel's recommendations. The March paper would help set the agenda for the 2005 summit on implementing the UN Millennium Declaration.
Inter-connected threats in a dangerous world
"The panel's insistence that we must see the inter-connectedness of contemporary threats to our security is particularly important," the Secretary-General says in his letter. "We cannot treat issues such as terrorism or civil wars or extreme poverty in isolation."
He further endorses the panelists' view that development is the "indispensable foundation" of collective security, and that eradication of poverty and disease is an essential part of the effort to achieve a safer world. "If we are to succeed in better protecting the security of our citizens, it is essential that due attention and necessary resources are devoted to achieving the Millennium Development Goals," he says.
Other conclusions drawn by the Secretary-General from the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change:
The UN must do more to advance an effective and principled counter-terrorism strategy, respectful of human rights and the rule of law. One of the obstacles so far has been the inability of Member States to agree on a definition of terrorism; the definition arrived at by the panelists will help in building a useful consensus.
A major push to rebuild public health at all levels, from the global to the local, as proposed by the Panel, would not only help to stem disease and epidemics, but also form a bulwark against bio-terrorism.
Member States are encouraged to positively consider Panel recommendations on improving sanctions and mediation, in cases where preventive measures fail to head off armed conflict.
As the Panel indicates, the world's nuclear non-proliferation regime is in a precarious state. Their recommendations hold the potential for reducing the possibility of a nuclear attack by either States or non-State actors, and require urgent action.
The Panel offers a vision of a United Nations for the 21st century, recommending reforms for each of its principal organs. These concerns have also figured in the Secretary-General's reform efforts, including the need for a more representative Security Council. The Panel's exposition of alternative formulae for Council expansion should facilitate discussion and decisions in 2005.
In commending the Panel's report to the General Assembly, Mr. Annan expresses the hope that it "brings us much closer to finding answers to some of the burning questions of the new century".
Besides the chair, the other members of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change are: Robert Badinter (France), Gro Harlem Brundtland (Norway), Mary Chinery-Hesse (Ghana), Gareth Evans (Australia), David Hannay (Britain), Enrique Iglesias (Uruguay), Amr Moussa (Egypt), Satish Nambiar (India), Sadako Ogata (Japan), Yevgeny M. Primakov (Russia), Qian Qichen (China), Nafis Sadiq (Pakistan), Salim Ahmed Salim (Tanzania), Brent Scowcroft (United States) and Joao Baena Soares (Brazil). Stanford University professor Stephen Stedman guided their research and compiled the report.
For more information, contact Tim Wall of the UN Department of Public Information, at 1-212-963-5851, mobile 1-646-479-4593, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or Bruce Jones of the High-level Panel's research staff, 1-212-457-1843, email@example.com; or visit the website www.un.org/secureworld.