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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
UK 'must face security challenge'
Bombed bus on 7 July 2005
The new commission will consider how to deal with terrorism
The UK is currently unable to meet the challenges posed by the various threats it is facing, a new commission for security in Britain has warned.

Ex-Nato chief Lord Robertson and former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown are to lead the 17-strong Independent Commission on National Security in the 21st Century.

It aims to build a consensus on how to deal with threats such as terrorism, organised crime and energy security.

Lord Robertson said there was much more Britain could do to meet such threats.

Unique opportunity

"This commission, and the wide range of expertise it draws upon, will provide a unique opportunity to examine Britain's long-term security needs," he added.

We need to think through, carefully and strategically, what the post-Iraq world will look like
Lord Ashdown

And deputy chairman Ian Kearns said Britain had a long way to go before it was effectively able to meet the security challenges of the 21st Century.

He blamed this failing on what he called "a lack of joined-up approach in government".

He told the BBC there needed to be better co-ordination between organisations like the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence, which was why the commission included experts from both these fields and why, he said, it would be distancing itself from day-to-day political debates.

The other experts on the commission include Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, and former UN ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock.

AIMS OF THE COMMISSION
To assess global security and the challenges and opportunities posed for the UK
To identify what should shape British security policy
To recommend how Britain can promote global security and defeat terrorism at home

The commission, run by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which will be launched by the International Development Secretary Hilary Benn.

It will discuss the changing global security environment and the specific challenges and opportunities this poses for the UK.

It will also publish an independent national security strategy.

'Lessons to learn'

Lord Ashdown said: "It is clear that we are approaching the end game in Iraq and that we need to think through, carefully and strategically, what the post-Iraq world will look like.

"It would be disastrous if the outcome of recent experience was a greater reluctance to intervene in conflict situations around the world," he said.

"But lessons must be learned, and this means a willingness to contemplate radical reform of our security institutions both at home and internationally."

Among the other commissioners are: Sir David Omand, former security and intelligence co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office; Lord Guthrie, former Chief of the Defence Staff; Sir Chris Fox, former Chief Constable of Northamptonshire; Professor Michael Clarke from the Centre for Defence Studies, Kings College London, and Democrat senator Tom Daschle, former majority leader of the US Senate.


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