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UN High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change Report, "A More Secure World, Our Shared Responsibility"

Published December 2, 2004

In this report, Secretary-General Annan commissioned a panel to assess the most urgent global security threats and to propose how to address them before the 2005 UN World Summit. The panel created one hundred and one recommendations, including implementing the Responsibility to Protect.

Annan's summary of findings and recommendations from the outcome of the Millennium Summit:

"5. The report offers the United Nations a unique opportunity to refashion and renew our institutions. I wholly endorse its core arguments for a broader, more comprehensive concept of collective security: one that tackles new and old threats and addresses the security concerns of all States — rich and poor, weak and strong. The Panel's insistence that we must see the interconnectedness of contemporary threats to our security is particularly important. We cannot treat issues such as terrorism or civil wars or extreme poverty in isolation. The implications of this interconnectedness are profound. Our strategies must be comprehensive. Our institutions must overcome their narrow preoccupations and learn to work across issues in a concerted fashion.

6. The report argues that capable and responsible States must be on the front line in combating today's threats. I share the Panel's view that the task of assisting States in enhancing their own capacities to deal with contemporary threat s is vital and urgent and that the United Nations must be able to do this better. I welcome their recommendations in this field.

7. I support the report's emphasis on development as the indispensable foundation of a new collective security. Extreme poverty and infectious diseases are threats in themselves, but they also create environments which make more likely the emergence of other threats, including civil conflict. If we are to succeed in better protecting the security of our citizens, it is essential that due attention and necessary resources be devoted to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

8. I welcome the report's innovative focus on issues of biological security. Sadly, the report is all too accurate when it States that our response to HIV/ AIDS was "shockingly late and shamefully ill-resourced," and it highlights the need to address the continuing shortfalls in the aid that is needed to halt the pandemic. But the report goes further. It calls attention to the deterioration of our global health system, its vulnerability to new infectious diseases and the promise and peril of advances in biotechnology. The Panel calls for a major initiative to rebuild global public health, starting with building public health capacity at the local and national levels
throughout the developing world. As the report emphasizes, such an initiative would not only yield direct benefits for the prevention and treatment of disease throughout the developing world, but would also provide the basis for an effective global defence against bioterrorism and natural outbreaks of deadly infectious disease.

9. As the Panel rightly says, our principal focus should be on preventing threats from emerging. But should such threats emerge, we must be better prepared to respond. Two of the tools which we must improve are sanctions and mediation . I encourage Member States to give positive consideration to the Panel's recommendations on ways in which they could be strengthened.

10. The Panel also recommends criteria for the use of force. I welcome its contribution to this extremely important debate and I urge the membership to give careful consideration to its recommendations. I cannot overemphasize how important a new consensus on this issue is for a renewed system of collective security.

11. The report finds that the United Nations has not made the best use of its assets in the fight against terrorism. As the Panel rightly advocates, the United Nations must be able to articulate an effective and principled counter -terrorism strategy that is respectful of the rule of law and the universal observance of human rights. One of the obstacles hitherto, I believe, has been the inability of the membership to agree on a definition of terrorism. The report offers a definition and I am confident that this will help in building the consensus we need in order to move forward quickly.

12. The Panel calls urgent attention to the precarious state of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and warns of the risk of a possible cascade of proliferation in the future. Its recommendations — for strengthening the regime through the Additional Protocol; for providing incentives for States to forego the development of domestic uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities; for a voluntary time-bound moratorium on the construction of any such facilities; and the negotiation ofa verifiable fissile material cut -off treaty that ends production of highly enriched uranium for non-weapon and weapon purposes — all hold the potential of reducing the possibility of a nuclear attack by States or non -State actors, and require urgent

13. As importantly, the Panel offers a vision of a United Nations for the twenty-first century and makes recommendations for change in each of the principal organs, including reform of the Security Council. I have long argued the need for a more representative Security Council. It is disappointing that, for more than ten years, little or no progress has been made towards this. The Panel's report offers two formulas for expansion of the Council. I hope that these will facilitate discussion and help the membership to reach decisions in 2005.

14. In addition to the reform of existing institutions, the report proposes a new intergovernmental body: the "Peacebuilding Commission". I agree with the Panel that post-conflict peacebuilding is essential given the challenges we face today. Work and resources in this area remain too dispersed and I welcome the idea of a new intergovernmental body, as well as that of dedicated capacity in the Secretariat. It is my hope that such a commission, which would assist States in the transition from the immediate post-conflict phase to longer -term reconstruction and development, would also be available, at their request, to assist Member States in strengthening their own capacities.

15. The Panel also recommends changes to the Human Rights Commission. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains one of the Organization's greatest achievements. We should be proud of the work of the United Nations in developing international human rights norms and standards. However, we cannot move forward without restoring the credibility and effectiveness of our human rights mechanisms and refocusing ourselves on the protection of individual rights. I hope that the Panel's recommend ations can be a basis for change.

16. I am also happy that the report has called for strengthening the Secretariat and I will study carefully the individual recommendations. I agree fully with the Panel's belief that the Membership can ill afford a Secreta riat which does not have the best people, with adequate means to carry out their mandate.

Need for deliberation and action

17. The recommendations of the report are many and wide-ranging. They will require a wide-ranging response.

18. Some of the reco mmendations in the report are directed at specialized agencies
and intergovernmental bodies outside the United Nations. For example, the Panel recommends that the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency recognize the Additional Protoco l as today's standard for Agency safeguards. For this recommendation and others like it, I will begin consultations with the heads of those agencies and seek ways of working towards the early consideration and implementation of the recommendations contained in the report. The governing boards themselves may wish to take early action.

19. I will move quickly to consider and implement, as appropriate, those recommendations within my purview as Secretary -General . For example, I take to heart the recommendation that I should take a lead in promoting a new comprehensive, principled strategy against terrorism, and pledge to enunciate a vision of such a strategy for consideration by Member States in the new year.

20. For other recommendations that pertain to the Se cretariat, I shall need the approval and support of the legislative bodies of the United Nations. A capable and effective Secretariat resourced and structured for the challenges at hand is a vital element in any system of collective security. I strongly encourage Member States to consider the Panel's recommendations on enhancing the capacity in the Secretariat in the areas of conflict prevention, mediation, peacebuilding and strategic analysis. I stand ready to provide the Member States with more detailed comments and, based on their guidance, a plan for implementation.

21. A third category of recommendations is aimed at the intergovernmental organs of the United Nations and can be adopted accordingly. For example, the Panel urges the Economic and Social Council to create a Committee on the Social and Economic Aspects of Security Threats, as a means of assisting our deliberations on the causes and consequences of and interconnections among the threats we face.

22. It is also clear to me that there are some recommendations that demand attention at the highest levels of government and are essential to achieving a new consensus on collective security. For example, agreement on rules and norms governing the use of force is fundamental to whether and how we move forward as an organization to meet the threats of today. In my report to Member States in March 2005, I intend to factor in those recommendations from the report that go to the heart of who we are as the United Nations and what we stand for, and that should be central to next September's summit.

23. I hope that not all action will be frozen until September. We should move quickly and take action on recommendations wherever we can . For example, the Panel recommends several important initiatives for improving biological security. The Security Council might wish to act promptly on the Panel's recommendation for a second special meeting on HIV/AIDS and international peace and security, focusing on the cumulative effects of the disease on States and societies. At the same time, the World Health Assembly may wish to consider the recommendation that it increase resources for global monitoring and response to emerging infectious disease. Interested donors, whether they are States or foundations, may wish to
consider the Panel's important recommendation for a major initiative to rebuild global public health. All of these issues are urgent. None needs to wait until September.

24. I commend the Panel's report. I think that Member States will find that it brings us much closer to answering some of the burning questions of the new century. I hope that it will stimulate a lively debate and early decisions among Member States. There is an urgent need for the international community to reach new consensus on the future of collective security and on the changes that are needed in the United Nations.

25. Finally, I would like to express my deep thanks and appreciation to the Chair and members of the Panel for their efforts. They did not shy away from tackling the toughest issues that divide us. That this diverse and distinguished group could reach consensus on far-sighted, yet workable, recommendations gives me hope that the larger membership of the Organization can do the same.

(Signed ) Kofi A. Annan

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