Annan, in a report to be delivered on Monday to the 191-nation UN General Assembly, also waded into the debate over the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, calling on the Security Council to set out rules for when it should authorise the use of military force.

However, in the use of force as well as in reform of the 15-nation Security Council, Annan on Sunday did not set out his own recommendations, leaving these questions to UN members.

Annan's plan aims to preserve the United Nations as the focus of global multilateral action and also to respond to growing criticism of the United Nations, fuelled by allegations of sex abuses by peacekeepers and mismanagement of the $67 billion oil-for-food plan for Iraq.

Increased scrutiny

Before they can take effect, the reforms must be endorsed by world leaders attending a UN summit in September and then by the General Assembly.

The United Nations has come under increased scrutiny since the US decision to invade Iraq without Security Council approval.

Sex abuses by UN peacekeepers
have added to calls for reforms

Several conservative US lawmakers have called for Annan to resign and a number of congressional committees and a UN-appointed panel are investigating the oil-for-food plan.

US President George Bush recently nominated John Bolton, an outspoken critic of both multilateral action and the United Nations, as his pick for US ambassador to the body.

Annan's report said the UN Human Rights Commission, accused by critics of increasingly defending despots rather than cracking down on them due to the way its members are chosen, should be replaced with a new Human Rights Council, whose members would be elected by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly.

Democracy fund

Annan also proposed creation of a peace-building commission to help the international community rebuild nations shattered by war, and of a democracy fund to promote that form of government around the world.

Annan wants a panel to help the
UN rebuild war-ravaged nations

The UN further should embrace a "responsibility to protect" that would authorise international action including the use of force when nations are unwilling or unable to protect their own citizens, Annan said.

"In a world of interconnected threats and challenges, it is in each country's self-interest that all of them are addressed effectively," the report said. "Hence, the cause of larger freedom can only be advanced by broad, deep and sustained global cooperation among states."

"Such cooperation is possible if every country's policies take into account not only the needs of its own citizens but also the needs of others. This kind of cooperation not only advances everyone's interests but also recognises our common humanity," Annan's report said.