The United Nations Organization and Turkey, 16.6.2017
The Unites Nations is an international organization established in 1945 in the aftermath of World War II under the leadership of the US, Soviet Union, Britain, France and China. The aim of the organization, when it was first established, was to prevent the recurrence of the wars of the first half of the 20th century as well as the conflicts which posed a threat to global peace and security.
The UN Charter, which is the founding treaty of the United Nations, was signed in San Francisco on 26 June 1945 by the representatives of fifty countries, including Turkey. The number of founding members rose to fifty-one upon the signing of the Charter by Poland, which was not represented at the San Francisco Conference. The organization officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the majority of the member states ratified the UN Charter, as the charter itself stipulates. Since then, October 24 has been celebrated each year as United Nations Day.
The main bodies of United Nations are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the UN Secretariat.
Closely following the UN’s agenda, Turkey actively engages in the work of the General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies. In doing so, Turkey benefits from its membership to different groups as well as regional and international organizations, and makes every effort to play a constructive and reconciliatory role on current issues.
Geographical groups were established to implement the principle of equitable and balanced representation in the elections at the UN. Accordingly, there are five geographical groups: i) African Group, ii) Asia Pacific Group, iii) Eastern European Group, iv) Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) and v) Western European and Others Group (WEOG). Turkey participates in the works of both the WEOG and the Asia Pacific Group. However, as far as the elections are concerned, Turkey is considered to be a member of the WEOG Group.
Turkey’s contribution to the UN budget
The UN budget is mainly financed through mandatory and voluntary contributions from the member states based on their influence in the international system and their economic capacity. Our country’s assessed contribution to the UN was %0,617 in 2012. This figure exceeded %1 in 2013 and reached %1,328 increasing Turkey’s ranking among the top donor countries from the 25th place to the 16th. Thus, in May 2014, Turkey has become a member of the Geneva Group, which is a non-official entity focusing on the efficiency of the UN and brings together like-minded countries on the administrative and financial policies. Turkey’s contribution to the UN regular budget is set at %1,018 for the 2016-2018 budget term.
Turkey and the UN Security Council
Turkey extends its support to the UN in every forum and every possible way and is determined to enhance its contribution to international peace, security, stability and prosperity. Turkey also would like to further increase its efforts towards strengthening of fundamental principles and values such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Turkey’s multidimensional contribution to the agenda of the UN
Turkey served as the non-permanent member of UN Security Council for terms 1951-1952, 1954-1955, in 1961 (as part of a rotating seat agreement between Turkey and Poland) as well as for the term 2009-2010.
The progress achieved by Turkey in the fields of economic growth and development, in its policies of opening up to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and Pacific region, its EU accession perspective, its membership in G-20 and the increase in its official development assistance, provided new opportunities for Turkey especially for increasing its contribution to the UN’s development agenda. In this regard, the 4th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries held in Istanbul on 9-13 May 2011 allowed Turkey to concretely demonstrate its support and contribution to international development cooperation. In the Conference, Turkey assumed the responsibility of raising the issues related to the LDCs in international agenda and facilitating the efforts for finding solutions until 2020, thus, undertaking a leading advocacy role for the LDCs. The Mid-Term Review Meeting for monitoring the outcomes of this Conference was hosted by Turkey in May 2016, as well.
Turkey’s humanitarian assistance efforts, which was initiated in the mid-1980s by providing food aid, have gained a remarkable impetus in the last decade, expanded to many regions across the world and diversified in terms of quantity and quality covering a wide range of activities. Furthermore, Turkey extends its humanitarian assistance not only at bilateral level but also through international organizations such as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and World Food Programme (WFP). Thus, Turkey’s humanitarian aid contributions have gained an international dimension and its cooperation with international institutions operating in the field has been enhanced. In this regard, on 1 July 2014, Turkey became a member of the OCHA Donor Support Group (ODSG). ODSG is a consultation mechanism aiming at shaping humanitarian policies followed by the OCHA and brings together top OCHA donor countries.
In the face of the deadlock the international humanitarian aid system is facing today, the World Humanitarian Summit was held in Istanbul under the auspices of H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Turkey, on 23-24 May 2016 for the first time in history within the framework of the personal initiative of former Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon.
The Summit was held at the level of Heads of State and Government and on a multi-stakeholder platform with the participation of the representatives of international organizations, non-governmental organizations, academia, private sector and leaders from crisis-affected communities. In the light of the former Secretary-General’s report titled “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility” published on 9 February 2016, and with the participation of all stakeholders, the Summit provided an opportunity to address the issues in order to overcome difficulties faced by the global humanitarian system. During the Summit, all stakeholders of the humanitarian assistance field made various commitments for the future of the system and shared their opinions and experiences.
173 UN member states participated in the Summit and 55 of them were represented at the level of Heads of State and Government. More than 60 Ministers were present in the event as well and more than 40 international organizations were represented at the Secretary General / President level. Along with other stakeholders, a total of 9,000 participants attended the Summit. 900 press members followed the Summit, which had a wide coverage in the international media.
Thus, the World Humanitarian Summit has gained the title of the largest Summit organized – outside the UN Headquarters in New York – with the greatest number of countries participated at once.
Turkey’s proposals for the resolution of the problems in the humanitarian assistance system, its remarks regarding the future of the system and its national practices were shared with the representatives of international humanitarian assistance community in a series of high level meetings with the participation of H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself – or co-chaired by him – and of Ministers as well as high level officials.
Turkey is determined to continue to play an effective role in implementing and monitoring the outcomes of the Summit and commitments made by all stakeholders in the humanitarian assistance field.
In this vein, incollaboration withOCHA an UNDP, Turkeyhosted the Advancing the New Way of Working Working (NWOW) Workshop in Istanbul on 18-19 May 2017. The NWOW is an initiative which was among the most important outcomes of the WHSand alignswith Turkey’s development oriented humanitarian assistanceapproach. On the occasion of theNWOWIstanbulWorkshop, acommemorativehigh levelpanel on thepost-WHS process was alsoheld.
İstanbul as UN hub
In line with the progress achieved in recent years in Turkey’s relations with the UN, one of the primary aims of its UN policy is to transform Istanbul into a UN center, taking into account its proximity to Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa, as well as its traveling facilities and the fact that Istanbul is an already economic, financial and cultural center. As a result of work we have conducted with the UN so far, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has been transferred to Istanbul. Istanbul also hosts the UN International Center for Private Sector in Development of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UNDP’s Regional Service Centre for Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (UNDP-RSC) and the Regional Office of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN) for Europe and Central Asia.
Turkey and peacekeeping
Turkey’s contribution to peacekeeping operations which constitutes one of the most important tools of the international community for the maintenance of international peace and stability, represents a concrete example of its cooperation with the UN. Turkey is among the countries providing military and civilian personnel to the UN peacekeeping operations deployed in various conflict areas around the world.
Reform of the UN and Turkey
The developments taking place in the international arena since 1945, when the UN was established, necessitate reforming in the Organization and its work on various fields. In this regard, important steps have already been taken to further improve the UN system.
Turkey attaches utmost importance to the UN, as the only global organization that establishes norms for dealing with the problems multilaterally, protecting international peace and security, and strengthening human rights as well as representing the international legitimacy. Within this scope, Turkey will continue to enhance its active and effective contributions to the UN activities in every field ranging from peacekeeping, to development, and from climate change to UN Security Council reform.