At General Debate, Turkey’s Foreign Minister urges UN reform, action on Syrian crisis

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/J Carrier

28 September 2012 – The Security Council must be reformed in order to respond to the world’s “real needs,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said today in his statement to the United Nations General Assembly, adding that without reform, the UN body risked irrelevance.

“The working methods and structures of the UN are not commensurate with the current realities of the world,” Mr. Davutoglu told the gathered delegates at the 67th Assembly’s General Debate at UN Headquarters in New York.

“While we cannot resolve current problems, each year we find ourselves besieged by ever mounting new ones,” he continued, noting that in order to establish “a strong, efficient and credible” United Nations, “the long outstanding issue” of UN reform had to be tackled.

Mr. Davutoglu pointed to issues on the global agenda, such as the unresolved political divisions between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities and the question of Palestine, saying that on many matters Member States “speak as one, yet we often fail to act in unity.”

“The UN Security Council, with its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, should become more representative and functional,” he stated, suggesting that only through reform could the Council “remain relevant in the enormous challenges we all face.”

Turning to the continuing violence in Syria, where more than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began 18 months ago, Mr. Davutoglu also exhorted the Security Council to break its diplomatic deadlock.

“It is high time that the UN Security Council must take action as this Assembly called for. There has to be a solution to ensure the immediate safety and security of the Syrian people,” he said, adding that there was “no legitimate explanation” for the Council’s failure to reflect the will of the international community.

A further 2.5 million Syrians urgently need humanitarian aid, according to UN estimates.

The Turkish Foreign Minister also drew attention to the recent spate of protests in various cities around the world following the release of an anti-Islamic video produced by a US citizen, as well as cartoons published in a French magazine, and urged more global cooperation in the fight against the defamation of religions.

“Islamophobia has also become a new form of racism like anti-Semitism,” Mr. Davutoglu said. “It can no longer be tolerated under the guise of freedom of expression.”

The Foreign Minister called on UN Member States to establish denigration of all religions and their followers as a hate crime and prevent what he said were “reckless provocations.”

“We need to craft a universal policy and legal instrument that while protecting free expression, should also ensure respect for religion and prevent the intentional insults against everyone’s faiths,” he said.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister is one of scores of heads of State and government and other high-level officials who are presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.

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