Global Policy Forum

High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change


2003 - 2004

In September 2003 Secretary General Kofi Annan announced to the General Assembly his appointment of a High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. The 16 Panel members conducted an in-depth study on global threats and provided an analysis of future challenges to peace and security. The Panel also recommended changes necessary to ensure effective collective action, including a review of the principal organs of the UN.

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Key Documents | UN Documents | NGO Reports | Articles

Key Documents

In Larger Freedom – Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All (March 21, 2005)

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's report to the General Assembly follows on from proposals of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and the Millennium Project. In dealing with the advancement of development, debt relief, security and human rights, In Larger Freedom also sets out a sweeping UN reform agenda that includes enlarging the Security Council, replacing the Human Rights Commission and overhauling the Secretariat. Heads of states will consider Annan's recommendations at a high level summit in September 2005. (United Nations)

Report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (December 2, 2004)

In its much-awaited report, the Threats Panel proposes recommendations to improve the UN's response to security crises. The most controversial topics are: Security Council enlargement, a definition of terrorism and the issue of "responsibility to protect."

The High Level Panel Terms of References

Secretary General Kofi Annan's Address to the General Assembly (September 23, 2003)

In his September 2003 address to the General Assebly, Secretary General Kofi Annan announced his appointment of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.

NGO Letter on Natural Resources and Conflict to the UN Secretary General's High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (October 11, 2004)

This open letter by Global Witness, World Vision and Global Policy Forum calls on the Panel to consider how natural resource exploitation fuels conflict worldwide. The letter urges the UN to create a working definition of "conflict resources" and to establish a Secretariat office or permanent inter-agency task force on natural resources issues.


UN Documents


General Assembly Critiques High Level Panel Report (February 1, 2005)

Members of the General Assembly have evaluated some of the recommendations set forth in the report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. Some ambassadors expressed concern that there was not enough emphasis on disarmament, while others were disappointed the report did not have a greater focus on socio-economic development. The Assembly concluded that UN reform needs to extend beyond the scope of the report, but should not diminish the General Assembly's role "as the principal deliberative body of the United Nations." (UN Press Release)

Rebalancing the Principal Organs of the UN – A Concept

This concept paper by Assistant Secretary General Danilo Türk offers ideas to reform all principle UN organs and gives two suggestions on how to proceed.


NGO Reports

Good Diagnosis, but Poor Prescription (December 2, 2004)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticizes the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change's recommendations for restoring the credibility of the UN Human Rights Commission. HRW suggests basing membership on a country's human rights record in order to deny states that violate human rights a seat on the commission. The panel, however, recommends expanding the Human Rights Commission to include all 191 UN member states, reducing it, as far as HRW is concerned, to "yet another talk shop."

Amnesty International Statement on the High Level Panel's Report (December 1, 2004)

Amnesty International praises the report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change for its focus on human rights. The organization urges states to comply with the report's recommendations and to support proposed reforms to the UN's human rights programs.

High Level Panel Nears Agreement on Security Council Makeup and Humanitarian Intervention (July 28, 2004)

The Secretary General's High Level Panel is working on UN reform to identify and address "future challenges to international peace and security." The Panel seeks to expand the Security Council to twenty-four members based on a "three tiered system." The Panel, however, does not address the problem of the veto power, or the question of representation. (Citizens for Global Solutions)



An Analysis of the High Level Panel Report (April 2005)

One World Trust supports the need for UN reform, and has welcomed recommendations by the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. In particular the Trust praises the Panel's focus on development, which it sees as "the cornerstone of conflict prevention" and would like to see the establishment of a UN rapid reaction force. One "glaring omission" in the Panel's report, however, is acknowledgement of the need for greater UN accountability.

Reforming the UN the Bush Way (March 9, 2005)

This Asia Times article accuses the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change of condoning the US-approved doctrine of pre-emptive self defense. The author argues that by endorsing the doctrine as "long-standing international law" the panel risks further narrowing "the conceptual gap" between the UN and the "scourge of Washington warmongers."

UN Should Reform to Be More Effective, Canadian Official Says (January 24, 2005)

UN Deputy Secretary General Louise Fréchette believes the report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change presents an important opportunity for the UN to better address the full range of threats to peace and security. However, she disagrees with proposals raised by some commentators that the UN should become a "counterbalance" to US power, and instead prefers to see it used to facilitate multilateralism as the best strategy for global security. (Globe and Mail)

Threats, Challenges and Change (December 13, 2004)

This Africa News Service article commends the report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change but cautions that it is only "the start, not the end, of a process." The article puts forth its position on some of the main recommendations, and advocates for a stronger UN role in peace building by supporting the panel's proposal to create a commission in this field.

Will Calls for Sharing Responsibility in New UN Report Fall on Deaf Ears? (December 10, 2004)

In response to the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change's recommendations on UN reform, Foreign Policy in Focus wonders what chance the suggested reforms have in practice. Full implementation of the suggested reforms implies changing the UN Charter, a highly unlikely scenario since the US Senate will have to re-approve the document. The author therefore calls for implementation of the "most important parts of the reforms, those that depend on states living up to their existing pledges and international obligations."

A UN for This Century, Not the Last One (December 3, 2004)

Former British Foreign Minister Robin Cook discusses the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change's recommendation of humanitarian intervention and highlights the dilemma between the right to protection from outside intervention on the one hand and the right to override state sovereignty when a government oppresses its people on the other. Cook expresses his concern about whether the UN will succeed in realizing some of the goals the panel has set for the reformed world body. The panel's emphasis on the rule of international law seems incompatible with current US reluctance to respect international agreements and a US Attorney General "who dismissed the Geneva Convention as ‘quaint'." (Guardian)

Summary of ‘A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility' (December 2004)

In December 2004, the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change released its recommendations for "a more secure world." This One World Trust summary of the report outlines the panel's vision for a greater UN role in global security, including strengthening collective security, redefining terrorism and improving the UN's ability to respond to threats.

UN Panel Proposes New Criteria for Using Force (November 28, 2004)

The High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change has proposed to expand the criteria for UN military intervention as part of its efforts to reform the world body. Suggestions on taking action against terrorist threats ominously echo the US doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, but a strike would require Security Council approval. (Reuters)


Updating the United Nations to Confront 21st Century Threats (June 11-16, 2004)

The Stanley Foundation sponsored a "Conference on the United Nations of the Next Decade" to give recommendations to the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, including how to maximize the panel's impact. Participants urge the panel to use this "unique opportunity" to revive solutions for the "role of the United Nations, member states and human kind."

High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (May 13, 2004)

A series of meetings organized by the Oversees Development Institute focus on the question "UN Reform: Why? What? How? " This report summarizes the meeting on the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and gives an update on the Panel's stance, which emphasizes the need for policy and reform to drive the response to threats and challenges. (Oversees Development Institute)

Interview with David Hannay on the Secretary General's Panel on Peace and Security (March 2004)

In this interview Panelist Lord David Hannay shares his views on the importance on the Panel's work and its contributions to change at the UN. (Stakeholder Forum for Our Common Future)

The Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Security Threats - Maximizing Prospects for Success (January 15, 2004)

A group of policy experts examine the challenges facing the Panel's work, such as the diversity of opinion among UN member-states and its prospect for success. The report provides recommendations for the way ahead. (Stanley Foundation)

For A Safer World, Working Together (December 27, 2003)

In November 2003, Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan established the UN High Level Panel on Global Security Threats, Challenges and Change. In this Manila Times article Annan describes the tasks assigned to the panel and subsequent recommendations for strengthening the UN.



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