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The United Nations Charter confers on the Security Council prime responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. Yet these very concepts are undergoing radical change. More than the absence of war, peace has come to mean harmony both within and among nations. It has acquired a dimension far larger than the original State-centred notion of the Charter. Security connotes inclusion, cohesion and integration – a sense of belonging to a society and a prevailing international order that is predicated on fairness and respect for differences and human dignity. Today, especially given the rise in conflicts of a non-international character, the Council must urgently review the appropriateness of existing instruments and traditional diplomacy. The author calls for better links between the UN, the Security Council, NGOs, and civil-society organisations; and proposes legal and practical mechanisms both to afford better protection to aid workers, and to ensure that, when they are applied, sanctions regimes are effective means of placing pressure on those responsible for the abuse of power.

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