Fast Forward for the United Nations

Human Security Becomes a Unifying Force

by Kofi Annan

Page 1 of 2

I want to speak about my vision of a safer world and a better United Nations.

The attacks of September 11 were a wake up call. We are living in a dangerous world. We face multiple threats that did not exist when the United Nations was founded. Threats at the hands of non-State actors. Threats that cross borders in an instant. These threats affect us all, and no State acting alone can fully meet them.

Yet in responding to these threats, we are deeply divided on what approach is best to take. And on what our most urgent priorities should be. That is why I have said that the international community stands at a fork in the road.

If States fight among themselves, and do not unite to fight the common enemies of humanity, they will be doing a great disservice to the peoples of the world.

The global threats of our age include terrorism, deadly weapons, genocide, infectious disease, poverty, environmental degradation and organized crime. They will not wait for States to sort out their differences.

Global Security 101

UN Panel Proposes 101 Ways Forward

The UN High Level Panel on security has cited the IAEA as "an extraordinary bargain" for its work to prevent widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons. The Panel issued its report in late 2004 on security threats facing humanity, and how policies and institutions must change to beat them.

The report A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility includes 101 recommendations on UN reform and for forging a global response to threats of terrorism, poverty, disease, weapons of mass destruction and civil violence. Its 16 authors comprise former Heads of State, foreign ministers, security, military, diplomatic and development officials.

Blobal Security 101

The Panel singled out the IAEA's mission. "As the institutional embodiment of the Treaty on the Non-Prolifer-ation of Nuclear Weapons and of considerable long-term success in preventing widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - with its regular budget of less than $275 million -stands out as an extraordinary bargain."

Responding to the report, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called for urgent action on its recommendations to strengthen the non-proliferation regime and ward off the possibility of a nuclear attack. Including:

  1. That the Agency's Board of Governors recognize the Additional Protocol as today's standard for Agency safeguards;
  2. To provide incentives for States to forego the development of uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities; and
  3. The negotiation of a verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty that ends production of highly enriched uranium.

As importantly, the Panel emphasized the human dimensions of security, and the need for greater effort for sustainable development.

In regard to climate change, it noted, "modern economies.should undertake a special effort to devise climate-friendly development strategies. Member States should place special attention on the development of low-carbon energy sources, including natural gas, renewable power and nuclear power."

The Panel recognized that "nuclear energy, in the view of many, is an important source of power for civilian uses and may become even more crucial in the context of a worldwide effort to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and emissions of greenhouse gases."

The recommendations will help set the agenda for a special UN summit scheduled for world leaders in September 2005.

Members of the panel were Chairman Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister of Thailand; 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 about the report, visit the UN web pages at

That is why we must act now to strengthen our collective defences. We must unite to master today's threats, and not allow them to divide and master us. And I submit that the only universal instrument that can bring States together in such a global effort is the United Nations.

I am the first to acknowledge that the United Nations is not perfect. At times, it shows its age. But our world will not easily find a better instrument for forging a sustained, global response to today's threats. We must use it to unite around common priorities - and act on them. And we must agree on a plan to reform the United Nations - and get on with the job of implementing it.

Page 1 of 2