Stephen Stedman, senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for International Studies (SIIS), has been appointed research director for the United Nations' new High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. Stedman will leave for New York City next month for the remainder of the academic year.
On Nov. 4, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed Stedman and 16 members of the blue-ribbon commission, which is chaired by Thailand's former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun. The panel is charged with examining current global threats and analyzing future challenges to international peace and security. The group will not formulate policies on specific issues or on the United Nations' role in specific places, but it will advise the organization on reforms necessary to cope with emerging challenges. The panel will complete a 10,000- to 15,000-word report by late next year.
Stedman, a senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at SIIS, has served as a consultant to the United Nations on issues of peacekeeping in civil war, light weapons proliferation and conflict in Africa, and preventive diplomacy. His most recent co-authored publications include Ending Civil Wars: The Implementation of Peace Agreements (2002) and Refugee Manipulation: War, Politics and the Abuse of Human Suffering (2003).
Asked about the genesis of his new appointment, Stedman said he has developed relations with a set of people at the United Nations during the last six years. "A lot of the work I've done has had resonance in the U.N.," he said. "Policymakers read it and they understand I have sympathy for people who have to make tough decisions."
CISAC co-director Scott Sagan said the appointment is a "great tribute to the quality and policy relevance of the work that Steve has done over his career."
Stedman said his biggest challenge will be producing a report "that is both hard-hitting and has the potential for leading to change. There is a general sense within the U.N. that, basically, the effectiveness and legitimacy of the organization has been called into account. When Kofi Annan announced his intention to create the panel, he declared that the U.N. was at a crossroads where it needed to rethink how it can effectively provide collective security in today's world."
In addition to Panyarachun, the panel members include such international policy figures as former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland; former Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gareth Evans; former U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata of Japan; former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov; and retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser.