Statement by H.E. Y. Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey, at the Thematic Debate on “Peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa”, within the margins of the 67th General Assembly

Halit Çevik 26.04.2013
Mr. President,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me at the outset join the previous speakers in thanking the President of the General Assembly for convening this important meeting. This debate could not be timelier as Africa prepares to celebrate its fiftieth year of unity.

The title of the thematic debate, “Peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa” is not only a critical and vital issue for Africa, but for the entire world. The devastating effects and cost of lives caused by wars and armed conflicts slow down and even halt the political, economic and social progress of nations. They also lead to irreparable traumas and divisions between and within societies and states.

It is with this perspective that nations, states, regional organizations and the international community have significant role and responsibility in working toward the peaceful settlement of disputes.

Africa has made a remarkable progress in its efforts to deepen democracy and to eliminate conflicts. Last decade witnessed more successful elections and peaceful transitions of power than conflicts. This is mainly thanks to the significant actions taken by the leaders and peoples of the Continent. This fact once again shows us that the ownership and the States concerned of Africa are essential. The primary responsibility in preventing conflicts lies with the countries themselves. They must take the lead in ensuring peace and stability in their respective regions by promoting dialogue, reconciliation, cooperation and by ensuring rule of law, good governance as well as inclusive, transparent and representative institutions.

Regional and international efforts must support and complement the conflict prevention roles of national governments. In that sense, we believe that regional and sub-regional organizations play a crucial role in prevention of conflicts by promoting cooperation and integration, by developing and using preventive diplomacy mechanisms and through monitoring the commitments of governments. Economic Community of West African States, International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, Economic Community of Central African States, South African Development Community and Intergovernmental Authority on Development, among others, have been instrumental in ensuring peace and stability in their regions. In addition to conflict prevention efforts, regional and subregional organizations contribute to peace and security through their integration and cooperation mechanisms, which create common benefits and ensure continuous dialogue among their members.
The conflict prevention mechanisms developed by the African Union in recent years deserve credit as well. These mechanisms have been playing a unique role in transforming the Continent to a more peaceful and stable geography. The African Union has also made important strides towards governance, development and integration, which are important factors in avoiding conflicts.

The international community must continue to support the efforts and priorities of national governments and regional organizations in ensuring peace and security. The United Nations system has a special and unique role in that regard. Its specialized agencies, programmes and offices throughout the world are crucial in supporting regional and national efforts in every means. Also, peacekeeping missions, special political missions and the Peacebuilding Commission, through its country-specific configurations, are important tools of preventive diplomacy and peacemaking in post-conflict countries. These structures ensure focused attention and longer term support for specific countries in their peacebuilding efforts.

The close cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union combines the global expertise of the United Nations with the regional perspective and experience of the African Union in peace and security related matters. We firmly believe that this cooperation must continue by deepening, strengthening and enhancing in every direction. We are also glad to see that the United Nations continues to increasingly benefit from the dynamism and capabilities of the sub-regional organizations in Africa, while the sub-regional organizations in turn enjoy the support and expertise of the United Nations. The cooperation network between the UN, the African Union and the sub-regional organizations further strengthens conflict prevention initiatives of Africa and ensures the support of the international community by keeping the continental perspective and Africa’s leadership at the forefront.

Distinguished Guests,

We must never overlook the strong interlinkage between security and development. The best measure to avoid conflicts in the entire world is ensuring sustainable development and equitable distribution of wealth and resources. We appreciate that the Security Council, under the presidency of Rwanda, addressed and underlined once again the importance of this linkage in its briefing on April 15 titled “Prevention of conflicts in Africa: Addressing the root causes”.

I also would like to underline the importance of mediation as an important conflict prevention tool. Turkey and Finland, along with the Friends of Mediation have been actively supporting and promoting the strengthening of the role of mediation. In this context, UN General Assembly Resolutions 65/283 and 66/291, spearheaded by the Friends of Mediation, call for the development of mediation capacities of and cooperation among member states, regional and sub-regional organizations. We therefore welcome the increase in the capacities of such African organizations and encourage their further development. We are convinced that mediation can save Africa’s precious human and material resources by preventing and resolving conflicts.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a strategic partner of the African Union, Turkey will continue to support all conflict prevention, mediation, peacebuilding and state-building efforts in Africa. It is with this understanding that Turkey increased the number of its Embassies in Africa from 12 to 34 in the last four years. Having organized the First Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit in 2008, Turkey and African Union plan to organize the Second Summit later this year. Turkey also actively supports the rapprochement between Sudan and South Sudan by engaging both parties through confidence building measures, mainly in the economic field. Turkey also supports peace and stability efforts in the Horn of Africa by encouraging all regional countries towards cooperation and dialogue. To foster sustainable development efforts in Africa, Turkey shares its development experience while providing assistance to other countries. We are currently undertaking a large-scale aid programme in Somalia by combining humanitarian and development assistance. Turkey also supports development efforts of Africa by intensifying and enhancing its business relations with the Continent. It is with this spirit that Turkey hosted the Fourth UN Least Developed Countries Conference in May 2011. We also continue to increasingly support conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts through multilateral channels. In this regard, we continuously provide officers to peacekeeping missions in Africa, we support the work of the Peacebuilding Commission by joining the four country-specific configurations as a member and we have recently contributed to the AFISMA Trust Fund for African Union Mission in Mali.

Distinguished Guests,

Before concluding my remarks, please allow me to congratulate, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of African unity, all representatives and peoples of the Continent in their struggle for a more prosperous, peaceful and bright future.

I thank you for your attention.