Statement by H.E. Ambassador Baki İlkin, Permamenet Representative of Turkey to the UN, on the Secretary General's Report on the Follow up to the Outcome of the Millenium Summit

Baki İlkin 07.04.2005
Mr. President,

Let me start by thanking the Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his visionary, comprehensive, thought provoking report, "In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights For All", which will be guiding us during the reform process. I would also like to thank the President of the General Assembly for his active personal involvement in the reform process and for his successful conduct of our meetings and consultations. Last but not least, my warmest thanks go to our distinguished facilitators who are doing everything possible for the successful conclusion of our endeavors to reform the United Nations.

Mr. President,

While fully aligning ourselves with the EU statement, I would also like to emphasize some points of particular interest to Turkey.

We have come a long way since the 1990s in our pursuit to reform the Organization. We recognize that the prospect for reform seems within reach more than ever before. All Member States should seize the opportunity to contribute to the reform process and show maximum flexibility to achieve an outcome that will be cohesive, lasting and in the interest of the Organization as a whole. The difficulties which we encounter in this vein should not discourage us and should not be allowed to overshadow the entire reform process. When we undertook to reform the Organization, we knew there was a difficult and long road ahead. We should continue to strive for the best solutions in each cluster of reform which will strengthen the credibility of the Organization and which will carry it for a long time to come.

While doing this, we should acknowledge that the framework and the substance of the reform package are of utmost importance. There is no way one can re-build our Organization in a selective manner, thus leaving some parts of the old structure intact. If we are unable to put all the pieces of the reform package together, we will not be able to see and appreciate the full picture. This is something we can not afford.

It is evident that one of the main difficulties on the way to achieving reforms is the restructuring of the Security Council. It is only natural that we may have differences among ourselves, since every country has its own interests, requirements and expectations. All these need to be reconciled.

Although it is very much desirable, it seems that we may not be able to achieve full consensus on this particular issue. Yet the UN Charter clearly defines what it takes to change it. What is important is to find a common denominator for the overwhelming majority of the member countries. That should be our target.

As to the restructuring of the Security Council, the Secretary-General has clearly underlined in his report that Models A and B are not being presented on a "take it or leave it" basis. We would try and see to what extent we can produce a common denominator out of these models if need be, through infusing some new ideas. For example, is the number of 24 for the total membership to the new Security Council an unrevisable figure? Why not 25 members for example? Why is there a need to reorganize the existing geographical regions and reduce their numbers from 5 to 4? Such a change would necessitate an entirely new format in the working of the various organs of the UN. What is more, through the proposed merger, the Western and Eastern European Groups stand to loose a seat, something that the potential non-permanent members of these two groups could not be able to afford.

On the other hand, the review mechanism envisaged for the year 2020 does not seem to be realistic, when we take into account the experience that we have been going through during the last ten years. Thus, we should agree upon a new structure for the Security Council which would not necessitate changes for a foreseeable future.

The Security Council and the General Assembly are two inseparable institutions. Definitely the General Assembly also needs to undergo reforms and one can see that there is a general understanding on what needs to be done. While restructuring the Security Council, we should make sure to retain the delicate balance between the two. In other words, in real and practical terms, the role and the powers of the General Assembly should not be over-shadowed.

Mr. President,

As to the criteria, to be taken into consideration in evaluating candidatures, the ones that have been proposed in the reports are indeed objective. Yet, we have to admit that they are quite restrictive and exclusive. We should not deprive countries from taking a non-permanent seat in the Security Council, just because they are unable to fulfill all or some of the criteria. In principle, all countries should be represented in all bodies of the UN at some stage, if need be, on a rotational basis.

In addition to this, the criteria related to participation in peace-keeping operations need to be re-considered and thus be broadly interpreted. Contributions of member states to the maintenance of international peace and security, as referred to in Article 23 of the Charter, cannot and should not be limited solely to their contributions to UN-led peace keeping operations. Peace and security are indivisible. So are our contributions. In honouring this article, we have to be inclusive. We also need to take into account the contributions of member states to "UN mandated but non-UN led" peace keeping operations. This is a realistic and feasible approach, as we are trying to promote cooperation between the UN and regional organizations. We are asking more and more from the regional organizations to contribute to peace-keeping operations throughout the world. Yet, we are still making a clear distinction between the UN-led operations and the operations conducted by regional organizations. For example, in the case of Turkey, we presently have 2,700 peace-keepers in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Yet strictly from the view point of this differentiation, Turkey is seen as making no contributions to the UN peace-keeping in particular and to international peace and security in general. I know that Turkey is not the only country which would face such a problem. If regional organizations are not encouraged to making contributions to peace-keeping operations under the UN mandate, then the UN would have to undertake these operations through its own assets. The question is, can the UN afford this?

Mr. President,

Terrorism has undoubtedly become one of the most serious threats to peace, security and welfare of the global community. As a country which has long-suffered from this scourge, Turkey has been calling for increased international cooperation in the fight against terrorism. We welcome the suggestions put forth by the Secretary-General for preventing terrorism, as well as his comprehensive strategy to eradicate this universal threat. We also welcome the adoption of the "International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism" by the Ad Hoc Committee established by the General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996. We strongly believe that the legal framework in this particular area could only be strengthened when all Member States become party to the relevant UN Conventions and Protocols. In this vein, the adoption of the "Draft Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism" by consensus would be of immense value to the international effort undertaken toward this end.

I would also like to touch upon the recommendations of the High Level Panel on sanctions. These recommendations, address only one basic dimension of the issue, without referring to the needs and problems of third States implementing sanctions. It is a fact that Article 50 of the UN Charter cannot be easily invoked. Turkey's experience in the aftermath of the Iraq-Kuwait conflict is a case in point. Therefore, we welcome the Secretary-General's clear reference to this shortcoming in his report.

On the issue of the use of force, this matter is very much at the heart of UN reform. The common understanding that we are expected to reach on this issue will have a direct impact on the future role of our organization in defending peace and security.

Mr. President,

In order not to repeat what has already been said by a number of my distinguished colleagues, I would just like to reiterate that Turkey also fully shares the vision and strategy of the Secretary-General which he has so eloquently termed as "freedom from want".

We concur with the Secretary-General's inclusive and comprehensive approach to address the current problems of Africa. Therefore, in the course of all our deliberations and work in this Organization, we should always take the African dimension into account with a view to extending a vital coordinated support to help African countries. The Turkish Government adopted 2005 as the "year of Africa" and looks forward to further developing close relations and cooperation with the countries of this continent.

Mr. President,

The recommendations of the Secretary-General related to ECOSOC are valid and appropriate. The ECOSOC definitely needs to be revitalized in the light of immense changes that have taken place in the economic and social spheres in the last 60 years. A more focused ECOSOC should provide strategic guidance, promote coherence and coordination and evaluate performances without interfering in the work of other financial and trade organizations.

On the proposed "Human Rights Council", we have to examine the issue in depth. Since the idea is quite new, and since it would inevitably affect the functioning of human rights mechanisms in the UN as a whole, we need to further evaluate and consult among ourselves. In our deliberations, we would have to focus on issues such as representation and efficiency. We would also have to review the working of the Third Committee.

As to the re-organization of the Secretariat, we are of the opinion that the most authoritative person to come up with new ideas and recommendations is the Secretary-General himself. We have full confidence in the wisdom and experience of the Secretary-General and support his ideas and proposals related to the reorganization of the Secretariat.

Thank you.