Statement by Turkey at Security Council Open Debate on the “the Respect for the Principles and Purposes of the Charter of the United Nations as Key Element for the Maintenance of International Peace and Security”

Y.Halit Çevik 15.02.2016

Thank you Mr. President,

Let me begin by expressing our gratitude to the Venezuelan Presidency for organizing this debate as well as to Mr. Secretary-General for his briefing.

The system created by the Charter 70 years ago has prevented many conflicts from turning into another world war and paved the way for today’s achievements in social and economic development as well as human rights.

On the other hand, the history of the UN is full of examples of non-compliance with the purposes and principles of the Charter and the UN’s failure to ensure this compliance. It not only results in direct consequences such as loss of lives of many but also undermines the credibility of this organization.

Mr. President,

We need to devise sustainable solutions to make this organization fit for its purpose, taking into account new challenges.

The Security Council, has in many occasions failed to find timely and lasting solutions to problems, such as decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the tragedy in Syria. There is no accountability mechanism for inaction by the Council, which mostly results from the threat or the use of veto. This inaction is the main factor that encourages those who do not refrain from constantly breaching the provisions of the Charter, to the point of waging war against their own people. Therefore, the quest for a reformed Council is more than a rhetoric and is the key for the paradigm shift that is urgently needed to put an end to this impunity.

This unfortunate reality brings us to the second point, the importance of intensifying our efforts to “prevent” the conflicts before their occurrence. Societies where policies are crafted on the basis of dignity of their people, inclusivity and social justice as well as on good governance, are less prone to conflicts. Therefore, only policies addressing the root causes of conflicts will have sustainable results. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda, we hope, will have direct consequences in this respect. Also, polices aimed at enhancing the fundamental rights and freedoms and promoting intercultural dialogue will have long-lasting results. The Alliance of Civilizations is a tool designed to this effect.

Thirdly, on the occasion of a potential conflict, the priority should be given to the effective use of Chapter VI tools. The guiding principles of mediation, such as consent of local parties, the impartiality of the mediators, the inclusivity of the mediation process and national ownership are all consistent with the principles of the Charter.

The fourth point pertains to the protection of civilians during conflicts. Immediate end to all attacks against civilians, including indiscriminate aerial bombardments, as we observe in Syria, is not only a moral necessity but also a clear obligation under international law. We also strongly condemn the use of starvation as a method of warfare, which constitutes a war crime.

The Syrian regime continues to resorts to all means to prolong its grip to power, keeps employing all instruments of force and violence, be it chemical weapons, barrel bombs, ballistic missiles, targeted killings, arbitrary detentions, torture, systematic abuse, starvation and forced displacement. These brutal policies pursued by the regime against its own people represent gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and have exacerbated terrorism in Syria. In this regard, the representative of such a regime, which is also responsible for the emergence of DEASH is not in a position to lecture anybody on adherence to the principles of the UN Charter.

Sharing a long border with Syria, the developments in this country have been affecting Turkey significantly. We have been facing national security threats and attacks emanating from Syria since the start of the conflict, including from terrorist organizations therein. Over the course of the past few days, Turkish armed forces have taken retaliatory measures, in conformity with the established rules of engagement and international law, in response to attacks towards Turkey from Syrian soil.

On the other hand, the immense human bearing of the intensified aerial bombardments targeting civilians in Syria is of utmost concern. Within the past 24 hours alone, air strikes by the Russian Federation have targeted education and health facilities including a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Syria, taking scores of lives including children. It is the same member of this Council that has recently caused a new wave of massive displacement due to its continued aerial bombardments especially in north and northwest Syria. Those responsible for such abhorrent violations of international law, are not in a position to lecture anyone.

Mr. President,

The ongoing review processes on peace operations, peacebuilding and gender come into play as historic opportunities that might transform the current system into a more responsive, efficient and transparent one.

Mr. President,

Today, the world is facing new and unprecedented challenges which require concerted efforts to find innovative solutions.

Firstly, terrorism and violent extremism in all forms remain one of the gravest threats. We welcome the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action, particularly the view that the international community needs to adopt a comprehensive approach which encompasses not only security-based counter terrorism measures, but also systematic measures which address the drivers of violent extremism.

Secondly, we are now facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. We must exert every effort to strengthen our common commitment to respect for international humanitarian law. The first ever World Humanitarian Summit to be held in May in Istanbul will be a timely opportunity to address these challenges. Inclusive policies for migrants as well as combating racism and xenophobia take on more importance than ever, given this unprecedented mobility.

Lastly, I would like to highlight the concept of responsibility to protect, in relation to our discussion today. We believe that the responsibility to protect should not be restricted to those facing trouble in turbulent countries. The situation of the populations escaping from these crimes to neighboring countries should also be taken into consideration. With an understanding of burden sharing, its scope should also cover the needs and the protection of such populations.

As the largest refugee-hosting country in the world today, Turkey has been a safe refuge for over 2.5 million Syrians who had to flee Syria for their lives and has also ensured that cross-border humanitarian assistance reaches millions of people in dire need on the Syrian side of the border, in conformity with its international obligations and in support of the UN. We believe that this major effort is a concrete example demonstrating that R2P can also be served by humanitarian assistance.

Mr. President,

The Charter provides the necessary principles and means to maintain international peace and security. Our political will to abide by its letter and spirit as well as to work collectively on occasions of non-compliance is the key for success.

Thank you.