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Parliamentarians for Global Action conference recommends that the United Nations forms a permanent army

RICHARD PALFREYMAN: A group of international parliamentarians meeting in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, has recommended that the United Nations form a permanent army. The politicians, including an Australian senator, believe the military force would prevent conflicts similar to the Gulf war. Establishment of such a force would, however, require changes to the UN Charter. Aubrey Bell reports from Ottawa.

AUBREY BELL: The group, which has just wrapped up two days of meetings, is called Parliamentarians for Global Action. It has members in 40 parliaments around the world; representatives from 14 of those parliaments attended the Ottawa conference. The meeting was called to discuss the lessons of the Persian Gulf war and what might be done to strengthen the hand of the United Nations for dealing with such conflicts. The delegates agreed that the UN Charter needs to be reviewed. They say the UN was set up at a time when the world was caught in the grip of the Cold War. Now, there's a new era of co-operation but, they say, when conflict erupts - as it did in the Gulf - the UN's ability to respond is dictated by the wishes of the five members of the UN Security Council. The parliamentarians say the United Nations needs a new method for dealing with conflicts between member countries. They say the agency needs better intelligence gathering so it can better anticipate where shooting is likely to break out.

South Australian Liberal Senator, Baden Teague, attended the Ottawa conference. He says the parliamentarians are recommending the UN move beyond its traditional peacekeeping role to act as a sort of police force. Following a request from a country fearing attack, the Senator says the UN should be able to deploy its own forces to warn off a potential aggressor. He explains how the UN force would work and how it differs from the agency's current peacekeeping role.

BADEN TEAGUE: After the situation has been properly assessed, there is a decision by the Security Council to deploy a peacekeeping force, made up of international contingents, to be the blue-helmet line at the request of one party. Now, the difference is that, up until this time, peacekeeping forces have gone only where both parties, like the end of the Iran-Iraq War, both Iran and Iraq agreed to request the UN peacekeeping force to come in and they were deployed on both sides of the border, and they were, in fact, still a very important buffer, monitoring group, that actually prevented the outbreak of violence, which was not actually desired by either side.

Now, in the case of Namibia, both South Africa and the Namibian revolutionary party - the Independence Party - both called for a UN peacekeeping force, so both parties are saying: `Help us in a transitional way to a preferred outcome'. What we are wanting to add to that is this notion of preventive peacekeeping.

RICHARD PALFREYMAN: South Australian Liberal Senator, Baden Teague, in Ottawa.