Exact information concerning a nation's offensive and defensive capabilities is known only to a limited number of persons, both civilian and military, within a country. Details and aggregate statistics, military weapon technology and military planning are all classified according to a hierarchical system of increasing degrees of required secrecy. Thus the public and its elected representatives have no knowledge of military matters other than what they are told by their government. Ignorance of military affairs prevents the public from voicing approval or disapproval. Under the cloak of military secrecy: imprisonment of political 'criminals' may be conducted; operations may be undertaken against labour or civil unrest; and inhumane warfare and war crimes engaged upon.
In the USA, there was great secrecy concerning the Vietnamese War, the Bay of Pigs landing in Cuba, and the abortive rescue mission in Iran.
National defence depends on military secrecy. The vital nature of military information is indicated by frequent espionage activities reported in the press. However, military secrecy can be self-defeating by, for example, delaying the flow of information and decisions needed for defence.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.