Statement by Ambassador Baki İlkin, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the Security Council Open Debate on Mediation

Baki İlkin 21.04.2009
Mr. President,

First, I wish to thank the Presidency, for convening this open debate on an issue of great importance for the UN and the member states. Indeed, conflict prevention and crisis management through mediation is one of the founding blocks of the UN and we can not overemphasize its significance to our work in the Council. So, we welcome the opportunity to engage in such a comprehensive debate on this issue.

Secondly, I would like to thank the Secretary-General and the Mediation Support Unit for their diligent work in preparing the report before us today. I also add my thanks to Under-Secretary-General Mr. Pascoe for his concise presentation highlighting the important elements of the report and paving the way for an enlightened discussion today.

Last but not least, I would like to express our deep appreciation to the Permanent Mission of Burkina Faso for bringing this issue under closer scrutiny back in September last year during their own Presidency. In retrospect, it is indeed a step in the right direction.

Mr. President,

The report before us today touches upon almost every single element pertaining the importance of mediation and what needs to be done further to streamline our activities in this particular area. Therefore, I am not going to repeat those points one by one. Suffice it to say that successful mediation is by far the most efficient and cost-effective means of peaceful settlement of disputes and that more time, effort and resources ought to be devoted to such endeavors.

In this regard, there is no doubt that the UN has a special role to play in leading these efforts. On most occasions, the UN's engagement in itself lends credibility and legitimacy to the mediation processes. Moreover, the body of work developed by the UN in any particular conflict often provides the best starting point as is the case for the Cyprus issue. Thus, we need to do everything possible to further enhance the professional mediation capacity of this organization. The Secretary-General's report contains useful recommendations to this end that merit careful consideration. As one of the leading contributors to the Mediation Support Unit, Turkey is committed to play an active part in this exercise.

That said, in today's world of multi-faceted challenges to peace and stability with great number of different actors and dynamics in constant play with each other, the UN can not always be expected to fulfill this role alone. Regional organizations, individual member-states and even non-governmental entities have important and at times leading contributions to make, depending on the particular features of the conflicts in question.

This is indeed a fact and it has been explicitly mentioned in the report too. The challenge, though, is to find the right composition and combination of action so that the different players do not compete with each other, but rather complement and mutually strengthen their endeavors. For that, a healthy coordination and cooperation among the interested actors is required at every step of the mediation process. It is thus within this frame of mind that I am looking forward to Council's upcoming mission to Africa where we will have our annual meeting with the African Union's Peace and Security Commission to discuss existing and possible future joint efforts.

Of course this phenomenon is not only confined to the African continent and it must be seen as a guiding parameter for all mediation efforts around the world. In this regard, the UN, again, is certainly in a crucial position to make the cooperation and coordination with other actors work effectively. Either through the provision of professional operational support by the Secretariat or via the political endorsement and direction given by the Security Council, the UN can indeed make a positive difference in the quality, credibility and efficiency of the overall mediation efforts. The "friends groups" established within the UN framework can also be conducive to effective peacemaking, provided that they have the right membership.

As to the role of the Security Council in particular, the incentives and disincentives that the Council may provide at different phases of the mediation processes can prove to be an indispensable enabler in convincing the parties to the conflict to settle their differences through peaceful means. That said, we agree with the Secretary-General that "while disincentives have been widely studied and applied, positive incentives have not yet received much attention and thus further work to refine them is merited." In particular, we should be able to make more and strategic use of the positive incentives available across the UN system through different UN agencies and funds.

Mr. President,

The issue of mediation is particularly relevant to what Turkey tries to do in its region and beyond. Indeed, Turkey has lately been engaged in a number of mediation activities of its own, ranging from Afghanistan to the Caucasus, from the Balkans to the Middle East.

Based on this experience, we have learned that mediation is rather a complicated process involving multiple actors in a way that requires careful and calibrated steps, with patience and commitment. We have also observed that compared to intergovernmental organizations, state actors may in some cases have the advantage of flexibility, as well as the ability to act more quickly, quietly and discreetly, all of which can be instrumental to the success of any mediation effort.

However, we have also seen that the UN's and the international community's support to the ongoing processes, as appropriate, can be crucial in moving forward with confidence and effectiveness. Indeed the expressions of support to our various mediation efforts by this body and the UN in general have always been most encouraging and yielded positive influence on the overall process.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I am rather convinced that the issue of mediation and in particular the comparative advantages of different international actors for mediation merit further discussion in future thematic settings. With that, I thank once again the Secretary-General for his useful report and express our readiness to actively engage in future deliberations on this topic.