First of all clean your walls with a good degraser, like TSP, make sure you have gloves on. Wipe the walls with clean rag, and let it dry. Then coat your walls with a Primer, like Bullseye, or KILZ, this should seal in the brown panelling. Then paint with latex paint, as usual. Expect it to look horrible when you first start, but it gets better with the layers. I painted dark wood panelling in my front and back entrance ways 15 years ago, and it has never peeled off. They just get a fresh coat of white every few years for the scuff marks. Such an improvement over dark.
See the article on www.diynetwork.com "How to paint panelling below
I painted over our brown paneling at our former home years ago. As Amber says, with a good cleaning and priming, the paint will adhere very well and it's amazing what a transformation it makes. It made my room look twice as large! You will like it Jj!
Be prepared to repaint your ceiling as well because the lightened walls will make the ceiling look dingy. This happened at our family's cottage. The lightened walls will change your mood.