Statement by H.E. Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the Meeting Organised by the DFS on the Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Cases

Y. Halit Çevik 17.09.2015

Mr. Under-Secretary-General,

We thank the DFS (Department of Field Support) for organizing this timely meeting in the face of appalling allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by the UN personnel.

We also thank the Secretary General for his detailed report where he addresses the SEA problem in depth, as well as for his briefing today on the “zero tolerance” policy of the UN, which Turkey fully supports.

The SEA problem requires urgent action since it harms the credibility of the UN, thus fundamentally undermines collective efforts of the international community for peace and security.

In this regard, Turkey acknowledges the efforts by the Secretariat to tackle the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse cases.

The initiatives that they are developing in light of the Secretary General’s report will surely provide effective guidelines for member states on how to vigorously address this problem.

Mr. Under-Secretary-General,

Turkey actively participates in UN peace operations across the globe, contributes to peacekeeping missions with police officers, military advisors and troops. Turkey also contributes to other UN-mandated operations conducted by international organizations such as NATO, the EU, the OSCE and the African Union. And Turkey is one of the biggest contributors to the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.

All these contributions are devoted to strengthen the international community’s efforts to rid the humanity of the scourge of war, prevent conflicts, address current crises and protect civilians, especially those who are the most vulnerable and threatened.

With this understanding, Turkey attaches utmost importance to ensure that its peacekeepers fully observe the disciplinary rules and norms while serving under the UN banner.

The UN field missions including special political missions and UN country teams are at the nexus of these efforts, and the blue helmets who are deployed in various crisis-stricken regions, including the most tormented conflict zones represent this unique universal body in the first place. We should all bear in mind that the success of the UN is increasingly depending on the efficiency of peace operations.

Therefore, peacekeepers must abide by the spirit of the UN Charter and the principles and values enshrined in it. Respecting human dignity is one of these capital values as we attach utmost attention to the protection of civilians. We cannot ensure this while peacekeepers themselves breach these very principles and moral values committing serious crimes like SEA.

In this regard, Turkey expresses its strong concern about the recent SEA allegations by UN personnel.

Those who act against the very values of the UN and commit such crimes should be brought to justice after necessary investigations. Member states must be accountable to take necessary measures in order to ensure the proper investigation of their uniformed personnel. Commanders of the peacekeeping operations should also assume responsibility in preventing these cases.

And throughout these processes, education and pre-deployment formation of the peacekeepers on SEA, and their scrutiny during their tour of duties must be strictly ensured in order to suppress these shameful acts.

We support the Secretary General’s call for increasing protection of and assistance to the victims of SEA.

I thank you.