Statement by Turkey at the General Debate of the Third Committee of the 75th Session of the General Assembly

Bilge Koçyiğit Grba 06.10.2020
Madam Chair,

The world is facing one the greatest challenges of modern times. If not addressed with determination, COVID-19 crisis will increase poverty and inequalities at a global scale, eroding sustainable development gains, as well as our advancements in human rights.

Madam Chair,

2020 is a landmark year for the gender equality and the empowerment of women agenda, in which, among others, we mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. However, the impact of COVID-19 has been amplified for women and girls due to the existing inequalities.

COVID-19 response plans and recovery packages must take into account the gender impacts of this pandemic. We would like to commend the Secretary-General for his appeal on gender-based violence and COVID-19 and commit to make it a key part of our national response.

We are also deeply concerned about COVID-19’s adverse effects on children’s well-being, development and protection, including their access to education, food, safety and health, particularly those in vulnerable situations.

Large movements of migrants and refugees across borders create further impediments for the promotion and protection of the rights of children. We would like to reiterate our call to redouble all efforts to address the needs of displaced children.

As the largest refugee hosting country in the world, we will continue our efforts towards the resilience and well-being of more than 1 million Syrian children who sought refuge in our country.

Madam Chair,

The universal promotion and protection of human rights is a priority for Turkey and we attach great importance to the work of all human rights bodies and the concerted efforts within the UN and its related agencies. Yet, we are disturbed by the obstacles that prevent millions of people across the world from full enjoyment of their human rights.

In this context, we remain deeply concerned about the re-emergence of extremist political currents and ideologies, especially across Europe, which translate into new forms of racism, such as xenophobic nationalism, anti-semitist movements and Islamophobia.

Madam Chair,

As we have been stressing also at this platform, the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China remains a cause of concern.

We attach importance to the UN’s role to address the concerns and expectations of the international community about the treatment of the Uyghur Turks and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Relevant UN bodies play a pivotal role in terms of registering the human rights situation in the region and proposing concrete recommendations.

In this context, we would like to recall that the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has called on China to deliver on eight recommendations in August 2018. The concerns and recommendations of the Committee are still valid today and need to be acted upon.

Madam Chair,

While respecting China’s territorial integrity, Turkey’s expectation, which is well known by the international community as well as by the Chinese authorities, is that Uyghur Turks and other Muslim minorities live in peace and prosperity as equal citizens of China, and that their cultural and religious identities are respected and guaranteed.

As a country having ethnic, religious and cultural ties with the Uyghur Turks, we have been particularly alarmed by the recently published reports and news on human rights practices against the Uyghur Turks and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

While following this issue on various international platforms such as the UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Turkey will maintain a constructive engagement with China also at the bilateral level.

Finally, we preserve our expectation for a meaningful, full-fledged and unrestricted visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Xinjiang, and that China acts in a transparent manner on this issue.

Madam Chair,

The oppression by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories continues unabated. Demolition of Palestinian houses, arbitrary arrests, regular attacks from the settlers and movement restrictions remain as daily practices in the Occupied Territories. The people of Palestine deserve to live in freedom in their independent state based on 1967 borders.

The conflict in Syria continues in its tenth year with its devastating impact on the Syrian people. The scale of the tragedy is with no parallel in recent history. We call for accountability for the regime’s crimes against humanity.

Human rights violations in Myanmar, especially the crimes committed against the Rohingya, continues to be a source of serious concern for Turkey. Urgent steps need to be taken to address the plight of Rohingas.

The dire humanitarian situation in Libya is alarming, due to the military campaign to overthrow the legitimate government in Tripoli. The conflict and the pandemic continue to present a significant threat to life. The discovery of mass graves in the city of Tarhuna is a grim reminder of the proportions of atrocities and human suffering. This must be a wake-up call for all sides who have condoned or supported Hafter’s aggression in varying degrees. International community and relevant organizations must take urgent steps to investigate this matter and hold those responsible accountable.

Madam Chair,

As I conclude, I would like to reiterate Turkey’s commitment for the promotion and protection of human rights and also extend our full support to you and the Members of your Bureau in your efforts to advance the work of the Third Committee.

Thank you.