At the end of the Second World War, 51 states, including Turkey, founded the United Nations so the world would not have to endure another similar disaster. 71 years later, and the organisation is still carrying out its mission. But what are Turkey's contributions to the alliance?
At the end of the Second World War, 51 states, including Turkey, founded the United Nations so the world would not have to endure another similar disaster. 71 years later, and the organisation is still carrying out its mission. But what are Turkey’s contributions to the alliance?
The United Nations (UN) is an international organisation that was founded in 1945, and is currently made up of 193 Member States. The Charter of the United Nations is its foundation treaty, and was signed in San Francisco, United States, on 26 June 1945 by 50 of the 51 original member countries.
The UN entered into force on 24 October 1945. It is a constituent treaty, and all members are bound by its articles. The mission and work of the United Nations are guided by the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is one of the six principal organs of the alliance. It oversees the budget of the UN, appoints the non-permanent members to the Security Council, and receives reports from other parts of the UK. It is the only principal organ of the UN in which all 193 member states are members with equal representation.
Missions of the United Nations
When it came into being during 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, the UN’s one central mission was the maintenance of international peace and security.
In order to fulfil this mission, the UN has worked to prevent conflict by helping parties involved in conflict to make peace, peacekeeping, and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish.
From its start, another main priority of the UN was to promote sustainable development. It has hoped to “achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion”.
All member countries of the UN agree that sustainable development – development that promotes prosperity and economic opportunity, greater social well-being, and protection of the environment – offers the best path forward for improving the lives of people everywhere.
The term “human rights” was mentioned seven times in the UN’s founding Charter, making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the Organisation.
In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought human rights into the realm of international law. Since then, the Organisation has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments and on-the-ground activities.
The UN also set an objective to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained. Ever since, the development of, and respect for international law has been a key part of the work of the Organisation.
This work is carried out in many ways, including the use of courts, tribunals, multilateral treaties – and by the Security Council, which can approve peacekeeping missions, impose sanctions, or authorise the use of force when there is a threat to international peace and security – if it deems this necessary.
Another purpose of the United Nations is to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character. The UN first did this in the aftermath of the Second World War on the devastated continent of Europe, which it helped to rebuild.
Turkey and the UN
Turkey is a founding member of the United Nations. In recent years, Turkey has adopted a more proactive approach towards the UN. Closely following the UN’s agenda, Turkey has strived to engage in the world of the General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies to the extent possible. Turkey has also been taking an interest in global issues, which are prominent in the UN’s agenda.
Progress achieved in terms of economic growth and development in recent years, new outreach policies towards African and Latin American countries, flourishing relations with countries in remote geographies, its accession process into the European Union, its membership to the G-20, and Turkey’s development to aid those countries in need have all provided significant opportunities to further enhance Turkey’s contribution to the UN development agenda.
The 4th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), held between 9 and 13 May 2011, in Istanbul, enabled Turkey to clearly demonstrate its support and contributions to international development cooperation. As the host of the Conference, Turkey assumed the responsibility to draw the attention of the international community to the challenges faced by the LDCs.
In addition, Turkey has always been one of the most prominent defenders of the principles and goals stipulated in the UN Charter, and has supported the resolution of international disputes through multilateral cooperation.
Turkey is currently taking part in 10 UN peacekeeping operations all around the world with a significant number of military and civilian personnel. Turkey hopes to continue to enhance its contribution to international peace, security and stability, the strengthening of fundamental principles and values in human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.
One example of this is the Ambassador of Turkey’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva, who has committed to undertake the systematic raising of the importance of women’s empowerment and the gender dimensions of different issues at key thematic meetings of various international institutions based in Geneva.
The Ambassador has pledged to promote international and regional agreements related to the elimination and prevention of violence against women and domestic violence and to encourage state membership to those agreements.
He claims “The recent launch of the Geneva Gender Champions initiative will certainly contribute to further strengthening of the gender perspective in many areas, bolstering efforts deployed for empowerment, equality and respect for human rights in general”.
UN response to recent Turkish terrorist attack
Despite Turkey’s efforts to maintain international peace, recent years have seen increases in terrorist attacks in some of the countries cities – due to its involvement in a coalition against the Islamic State (IS), and the recent collapse of its peace negotiations with its Kurdish population.
On 28 June, a terrorist attack took place at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. The attack consisted of shootings and suicide bombings – killing 44 people, and injuring a further 239. Turkish officials have said the attackers were acting on behalf of the Islamic State (IS), and had arrived in Turkey from IS-controlled Syria.
On 30 June 2016, the United Nations Secretary-General showed his support of Turkey by signing a book of condolences for the victims of the attack – wishing a speedy recovery to the injured.
The General Secretary said that he “sincerely hope[s] that the Turkish people and Government will be able to overcome this shocking tragedy”, adding that the UN stands firmly with the fight against terrorism and extremism. He further stated, “nothing can justify such kinds of heinous terrorist attacks”, and that they “must be defeated in the name of humanity”.
The attack also drew condemnation and condolences from other parts of the UN system. In a statement, the High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the attack, describing it as “a despicable crime”. He reiterated his solidarity with the Government and people of Turkey in their efforts to combat all forms of terrorism and violent extremism, and re-affirmed the commitment of the UNAOC to promote tolerance, understanding and peaceful dialogue.
In another statement, the head of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) also spoke out on the attack, stating that “on behalf of the entire international tourism community, UNWTO conveys its heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims and expresses its full solidarity with the people and the Government of Turkey”.
The UN General Assembly President also expressed anger and grief over the attack, claiming that “once again we experience the senseless killing of innocent and peaceful civilians. Once again we mourn the lives lost and sympathise with those left behind. The international community must – through much closer cooperation – redouble efforts to contain and fight radical and violent extremism”.