Statement by Turkey at the Fifty-Third Session of the Commission for Social Development (Under agenda item 3 (A))

Y. Halit Çevik 20.02.2015

Thank you Madame Chairperson,

We welcome the priority theme for the 2015-2016 review and policy cycle of the Commission for Social Development, namely “Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world”.

We believe that this session of the Commission is convened at a particularly important time. This year not only marks the 20th anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development, but also constitutes an important milestone for the adoption of a new global development agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals.

Madame Chairperson,

Social development, which focuses on improving the well-being of every individual in society, lies at the core of development efforts. Turkey takes the challenges in the area of social development very seriously. The steady economic growth and concentration on social development issues in our country in the recent years has allowed us consistent progress in human development.

We have become party to all major international conventions related to social development issues and are in the process of fully integrating them into our national legislation.

The economic growth and macroeconomic stability together with improving social policies that Turkey has maintained in the last decade helped create an environment conducive for the eradication of poverty, reduction of unemployment rates, establishment of a balanced income distribution and increased labor force participation. This was only possible by implementing policies and programs that target all segments of the society, with a special focus on disadvantaged groups, in the development equation.

Turkey pursues a national development plan based on a multi-dimensional approach, merging development issues with rights-based policies.

Steps taken to improve access for all in the field of education, health and social protection have been of particular significance. In this context, restructuring the education system through implementations such as establishing 12 year compulsory education system, enhancing human resources and physical infrastructure as well as the new Lifelong Learning Strategy pursued by Turkey pays specific attention to strengthening access of all segments of society to education. In the area of health, the Health Transformation Program aims for progress in access to and quality of health services. In addition, in the area of social protection reforms have been realized with an all-inclusive approach.

Moreover, policies aimed at empowering women and girls and increasing women’s meaningful participation in the labor force have yielded positive outcomes.

Madame Chairperson,

We note that the Secretary-General’s report of 22 November 2014 points out to the fact that twenty years following the World Summit for Social Development, the commitments to poverty eradication, full employment and social integration remain acutely relevant and are largely unfulfilled.

Improving the quality, quantity and accessibility of public services, reducing regional disparities, enhancing opportunities for lower income and disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and protecting human rights remain as major challenges to be tackled in achieving sustainable development. We are of the belief that only an ambitious and truly transformative post-2015 development agenda could have the means to address these important issues.

It should also be underlined that accomplishing the journey of development is impossible unless all human potential; including all men, women and persons with or without disabilities of all ages, including the older persons, is integrated to the global development process. Responding to the needs of the disadvantaged and vulnerable segments of the society is of particular importance in this respect. Furthermore, there is no doubt that social development will remain incomplete without a firm commitment to the advancement of women and girls.

Last but not least, we must also bear in mind that economic hardship and conflict increases social and economic vulnerability. In this respect, we believe that it is essential to extend support especially to conflict-prone countries and countries in post-conflict stage, in areas of social development. Addressing the root causes of the conflict is an effective tool for prevention. Therefore, integrating social development in to certain aspects of humanitarian assistance is important to enable the transition from emergency to development assistance in crisis.

Turkey remains strongly committed to working together with the member states and all stakeholders with a view to contributing to the deliberations which will lead to a sustainable development agenda, reflecting the requirements of social development.