Statement by Turkey UN General Assembly Item 132 "The Responsibility to Protect and the Prevention of Genocide, War Crimes, Ethnic Cleansing and Crimes Against Humantiy"

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 25.06.2018
Mr. President,

We welcome the inclusion of “The responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” on the formal agenda of the 72nd session of the General Assembly.

At a time, when atrocities committed in various corners of the world continue to cause unprecedented human suffering, it is timely for the international community to address the issue of preventing the occurrence of such crimes.

We thank the Secretary General for his comprehensive Annual Report, which constitutes a solid basis for our deliberations today.

Mr. President,

At the 2005 World Summit, Member States made a landmark commitment vis-à-vis their responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Unfortunately, the report of the Secretary General portrays a daunting picture concerning the negative trends in this regard. Since 2005, deaths caused by armed conflicts have increased tenfold and the number of people forcibly displaced has reached record levels.

It is clear that civilians are the ones that pay the highest price when Member States fail to uphold their responsibility to protect.

As we speak, millions of innocent people who had to flee their homes due to atrocities committed in Syria, Myanmar or elsewhere in the world, seek to survive in despair.

In order to prevent and alleviate this immense human suffering, the international community needs to consider efficient ways and means to narrow the gap between its commitments and actions.

Mr. President,

The responsibility to protect is yet to be an established norm of international law. Its scope and implementation needs to be defined and refined.

The efforts in this regard should not be carried out in a way to reinterpret or renegotiate the well-established principles of international law and the existing legal framework. Crime of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity are well defined legal concepts. We should implement the relevant legal framework in a faithful and consistent manner.

We should also bear in mind that the concept of responsibility to protect seeks to establish a delicate balance between safeguarding the humanitarian concerns of the international community while respecting the principle of national sovereignty.

Pursuing a non-selective approach vis-à-vis the implementation of this concept is pertinent to achieve the widest consensus among the membership on this important issue.

Our discussions such as today can contribute to progress in this regard.

Mr. President,

We welcome the Secretary General’s approach that attributes a central focus on prevention. Indeed, prevention is one of the most effective instruments in our toolbox.

Turkey believes that preventive policies and mediation efforts should have a more prominent role. With this understanding, Turkey;

- attaches particular importance to preventive diplomacy,

- pioneers mediation efforts not only in the UN, but also through regional and bilateral initiatives in a wider geography,

- and works actively for the peaceful settlement of disputes.

When efforts for prevention do not prevail, UN organs, including the Security Council, must remain ready to assume their responsibilities as enshrined in the UN Charter.

We hope that the discussions on the responsibility to protect and its implementation will also contribute to the efforts aimed at restraining the use of veto power in the Security Council, when crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide is concerned.

Mr. President,

Before concluding, I would like to underscore that ensuring accountability for crimes that are committed should also be an indispensable component of our discussion today.

Accountability is not only essential for averting impunity and delivering justice, but is also vital for preventing the recurrence of atrocities in the future.

Thank you.