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United Nations Report Offers New Vision Of Collective Security

A panel of eminent persons has recommended far-reaching changes to boost the ability of the United Nations to deal effectively with future threats caused by poverty, infectious diseases and environmental degradation, terrorism, civil war, conflict between states, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and organized crime.

The recommendations, contained in the report of the 16-member High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, were produced after a year of deliberations following the Panel's appointment in November 2003 by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The report (see attached) contains many proposals to prevent conflict and other global threats, by refocusing on development as the first line of response. It says 'we begin with development because it is the first line of defense for a collective security system that takes prevention seriously.' Development, the report adds, 'serves multiple functions. It helps combat the poverty, disease and environmental degradation that kill millions and threaten human security. It is vital in helping states prevent or reverse the erosion of State capacity, key to meeting almost every class of threat. And it is part of a long-term strategy for preventing civil war, and for addressing the environments in which both terrorism and organized crime flourish.'

The report sets out ways to engage with the International Financial Institutions - and the World Bank, in particular - in the following key areas:

  • Post conflict peace building : interstate conflict, and intrastate or internal conflict, including civil war, genocide and other large-scale atrocities;
  • Economic and social threats, including poverty, infectious diseases, and environmental degradation.

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