Threats, challenges & change

John Langmore

A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, the report of the Secretary General's High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, is an impressive piece of work because of the clarity of the recognition of current problems and their causes, and the realism in balancing principle and power in the recommendations. Explicit criticism and blame are avoided but there are many direct challenges to the US, other influential countries and to the small and weak to change their policies, increase financial, peacekeeping and other multilateral contributions, and support institutional reform. The 101 recommendations propose major incremental change to global policy, and to the financing and institutional structure of the UN. Agreement on the recommendations and implementation of them would substantially improve the effectiveness of the world's only comprehensively inclusive political forum.

Four imaginative and crucial sets of recommendations relate to: conflict prevention; nuclear weapons; the use of force; and reform of the Security Council. Those interested in other issues such as poverty, infectious disease, environmental degradation, terrorism, transnational organised crime, the role of sanctions, post-conflict peace-building and human rights could consult the report, which is available on the web at

The recommendations for conflict prevention include better information and analysis; more active preventive diplomacy through improving training and briefing of high level mediators; establishment of a dedicated mediation service; and encouraging the preventive deployment of peacekeepers.

The High Level-Panel (HLP) recognises the seriousness of the threat to the survival of humankind from nuclear weapons. They recommend that nuclear weapons states honour their commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by restarting nuclear disarmament. 'They should reaffirm their previous commitments not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states,' which the Bush Administration has so far refused to do. They should de-alert their strategic nuclear weapons. States which have not signed or ratified the NPT should pledge commitment to non-proliferation and disarmament. The HLP calls for nuclear-weapon free zones in the Middle East and South Asia. States should voluntarily institute a time-limited moratorium on construction of further enrichment or reprocessing facilities.

Part 3 on collective security and the use of force is the core of the report since the High-level Panel (HLP) was appointed to address the way forward after the challeng