Secretary-General Kofi Annan today gave his strong support to the findings of a high-level panel that looked at how the international community could address new and evolving security threats, including its recommendations for reforming the United Nations.
"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," Mr. Annan says in a foreword to the report to the UN General Assembly for review.
"The report offers the United Nations a unique opportunity to refashion and renew our institutions," he adds, promising to quickly consider and implement specific recommendations that fall within his purview.
The 95-page report, "A more secure world: our shared responsibility," was formally presented this morning in New York to the Secretary-General by the Chairman of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun of Thailand.
Mr. Annan had appointed the 16-member panel of prominent politicians, diplomats and development experts in November 2003 to assess the current threats facing the international community, evaluate the UN's ability to address those challenges, and recommend policy and institutional changes to deal with them.
The report contains 101 recommendations for dealing with the six areas identified by the Panel as being the greatest threats to worldwide security in the twenty-first century: continued poverty and environmental degradation, terrorism, civil war, conflict between states, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and organized crime.
Mr. Panyarachun said it was important to focus on the interconnectedness of those threats in today's world. "A threat to one is a threat to all," he said at a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.
Joining him was Panel member Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO). She stressed that collective security must be built around effective, responsible states since they are at the front line of defence against all of the challenges the Panel describes.
"Because the threats cross boundaries states must work together; that is obvious. But first of all we have to have working states, functioning states. And that illustrates our main point: that development has to be the first line of response for collective security," she said.
In his foreword to the Assembly, the Secretary-General echoes that view, saying 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 (MDGs)," he writes.
The Goals, adopted at a UN summit in 2000, aim to halve extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal education and promote gender equality. They also seek to reduce infant and maternal mortality, fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development - all by 2015.
In March the Secretary-General will submit a comprehensive report that includes a review of the progress made on achieving the MDGs, taking into account some of the Panel's findings. That paper will also help set the agenda for a planned summit of world leaders to review the 2000 Millennium Declaration ahead of the General Assembly session in September 2005, which coincides with the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations.
The Panel's other recommendations include adopting a definition of terrorism, something the General Assembly's legal committee has not been able to do after years of discussion; rebuilding the global public health system; revitalizing the nuclear non-proliferation regime; and reforming each of the principal organs of the United Nations.
Video of press briefing [49mins]