Study Says Global Security Threats Outfox UN, World Regimes

By Dialogo
September 22, 2010

The United Nations and national governments are ill-prepared to tackle the rapidly evolving threats to world peace and security, a joint US-EU report released Monday says.

Thanks to globalization, what used to be “localized threats are no longer locally containable,” says the “Global Governance 2025” report compiled by the US National Intelligence Council and the European Union Institute of Security Studies.

These include ethnic conflicts, infectious diseases and terrorism and “a new generation of global challenges including climate change, energy security, food and water scarcity, international migration flows and new technologies,” it says.

The UN system, international organizations and national governments have been slow to change and acquire the capabilities to tackle the challenges, says the report.

To illustrate the UN’s and other international groups’ lack of preparedness to deal with a multi-layered security threat, the report used the scenario of a large-scale outbreak of a deadly infectious disease in a middle-income or poor country.

The outbreak would likely overwhelm the local authorities, which would be unable to prevent affected people from traveling internationally, rapidly turning a single-country outbreak into a global pandemic.

Despite the dangers posed by such a scenario, there is not even a basic information system in place to link the World Health Organization and other health-crisis reporting agencies to the UN Security Council or NATO, who could mount a response, the report says.

The report was released as world leaders gathered in New York for the UN General Assembly and a summit on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to tackle by 2015 many of the same issues that the US-EU report says are a threat to world security.

The unclassified report was the first on which the US National Intelligence Council collaborated with a non-US group.

It does not prescribe ways to better manage global challenges, but says it expects the United States and EU will continue in the short term to lead the way in shaping global governance before rising powers such as Brazil, China and India step in and take on bigger roles.