1 December 2003


NEW YORK, 28 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the Fourth World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, delivered by Shalini Dewan, Director, United Nations Information Centre, Rome, today, 28 November:

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to all the Nobel Peace laureates gathered in Rome.  I know you all join me in congratulating this year's winner, Ms. Shirin Ebadi.  The award should serve as an inspiration to women and men, Muslims and non-Muslims, and human rights defenders around the world.

You meet at a moment of great consequence for the international community.  The events of the past year have shaken the foundations of collective security, and undermined confidence in the possibility of collective responses to our common problems and challenges.  Deep divergences of opinion have come to the fore on the range and nature of the challenges we face, and are likely to face in the future.  While a strong consensus on development was forged three years ago in the Millennium Declaration -- most notably in the form of the Millennium Development Goals -- the consensus on peace and security expressed or implied in the Declaration looks less solid than it did then.

It is with that in mind that I have called for a comprehensive review of the international system, to see how it might need to be adapted to cope with the threats and challenges of the new century.  To assist in that process, I have just appointed a high-level panel on threats, challenges and change, to be chaired by former Prime Minister Anand of Thailand.

The Panel will focus primarily on threats to peace and security.  But it will also need to examine other global challenges, including those in the economic and social realms in so far as these may influence or connect with those threats.  Indeed, those connections are often of central importance.  The Panel will then consider the contribution that collective action could make in responding to those threats.  Only in the light of that analysis will it look at the international machinery, including, but not limited to, the principal organs of the United Nations.

I have asked the Panel to recommend clear and practical measures for ensuring effective collective action, and to do so in time for me to make my own recommendations -- which I expect to be far-reaching -- to the next session of the General Assembly.

The ultimate decisions -- decisions to modify the rules of the system, or the institutions that manage it -- can only be taken by the Member States.  But each of you has an important role to play in this path of change, and I hope you will make your voices heard.  I also hope you will always see the United Nations as a valuable ally in the global struggle for development, human rights and peace.  Fellow peace laureates, please accept my best wishes for a memorable meeting.

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