As World War II was about to end in 1945, nations were in ruins, and the world wanted peace. Representatives of 50 countries gathered at the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, California from 25 April to 26 June 1945. For the next two months, they proceeded to draft and then sign the UN Charter, which created a new international organization, the United Nations, which, it was hoped, would prevent another world war like the one they had just lived through.
Four months after the San Francisco Conference ended, the United Nations officially began, on 24 October 1945, when it came into existence after its Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and by a majority of other signatories.
Now, more than 75 years later, the United Nations is still working to maintain international peace and security, give humanitarian assistance to those in need, protect human rights, and uphold international law.
United Nation’s Main Objectives
The organization’s purpose and principles are outlined in the U.N. Charter. According to the document, the United Nations’ four main purposes are to:
- Maintain international peace and security;
- Develop friendly relations among nations;
- Achieve international cooperation in solving international problems; and
- Be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
The U.N. is divided into different bodies, including the following:
General Assembly: The General Assembly is the main policymaking body of the U.N. that votes on decisions the organization makes. All 193 members are represented in this branch.
Security Council: This 15-member council oversees measures that ensure the maintenance of international peace and security. The Security Council determines if a threat exists and encourages the parties involved to settle it peacefully.
Economic and Social Council: The Economic and Social Council makes policies and recommendations regarding economic, social and environmental issues. It consists of 54 members who are elected by the General Assembly for three-year terms.
Trusteeship Council: The Trusteeship Council was originally created to supervise the 11 Trust Territories that were placed under the management of seven member states. By 1994, all the territories had gained self-government or independence, and the body was suspended. However, that same year, the Council decided to continue meeting occasionally, instead of annually.
International Court of Justice: This branch is responsible for settling legal disputes submitted by the states and answering questions in accordance with international law.
Secretariat: The Secretariat is made up of the Secretary-General and thousands of U.N. staffers. Its members carry out the daily duties of the U.N. and work on international peacekeeping missions.
What started as a group of 51 states has grown increasingly over the years. War, independence movements and decolonization have all helped boost membership in the U.N.
Currently, there are 193 members, representing countries from all over the world.
New members must be recommended by the United Nations’ Security Council and accepted by a two-thirds vote from the General Assembly.
The U.N. states that membership in the organization is “open to all peace-loving States that accept the obligations contained in the United Nations Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able to carry out these obligations.”
Relations with the U.N.
Türkiye is among the founding members of the UN and became a party to the UN Charter on 28 September 1945. Accordingly, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Türkiye to the UN was established. It started its activities after the Permanent Representative Ambassador H.E. Mr. Selim Sarper presented his letter of credence to the UN Secretary-General on 15 August 1947.
In recent years, Türkiye has been following the UN agenda closely and trying to be more effective as possible in the General Assembly and its subsidiaries. In doing so, Türkiye benefits from its membership in different groups as well as its membership in regional and international organizations. Thus, it strives to assume a constructive and conciliatory role on current issues. In addition, Türkiye is also interested in global issues on the UN agenda, even if they are not within the scope of its traditional foreign policy.
In this context, economic growth and development in recent years, new social support policies for African and Latin American countries, Türkiye's developing relations with countries in distant geographies before and during its membership in the UN Security Council, the process of joining the EU, G20 membership and programs to increase official development assistance to needy countries have led to an increase in Türkiye's contribution to the UN development agenda.
Türkiye was a member of the Security Council in 1951-1952, 1954-1955, 1961 and, 48 years later, in 2009-2010.
The membership process of Türkiye to the UN Security Council in the period of 2009-2010, which is the most important forum for ensuring and maintaining international peace and security, has created new and various opportunities in the international arena and the United Nations. Türkiye has always been one of the leading proponents of the principles and objectives provided for in the UN Charter and has supported the resolution of international disputes through multilateral cooperation. During the period of membership in the Security Council, Türkiye participated in the practices of the Council and contributed to the enrichment of it both in depth and in scope by making its contributions together with a wide range of issues that were already on its foreign policy agenda.
On the other hand, the fact that the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC) was held in Istanbul on 09-13 May 2011 clearly demonstrates Türkiye's support and contributions to cooperation in international development. With this Conference, Türkiye took the responsibility of bringing LDC-related issues to the international agenda and assisting in efforts to find solutions until 2020, and in a sense, assumed the spokespersonship of LDC. The Interim Review Meeting to monitor the results of this conference was also hosted by Türkiye on 27-29 May 2016.
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which coordinates UN programs, funds, specialized agencies, and economic and social activities, consists of 54 members elected for overlapping three-year terms. Türkiye was elected to this Council for three years in 2014 and its affiliation ended as of December 2017. As a member of ECOSOC, Türkiye takes an active role in the work of determining the views and attitudes of the UN on economic and social issues, and also votes in elections held under the ECOSOC umbrella.
Another example of Türkiye's active cooperation with the international community was the "World Humanitarian Summit" held for the first time in Istanbul in 2016. The World Humanitarian Summit, which is a very valuable step towards the ideal of a peaceful, prosperous and just world, was successfully held on 23-24 May 2016 with a record participation in the history of the UN. About 9000 participants from 180 countries, 55 heads of state and government, hundreds of civil society representatives and stakeholders participated in the summit. The Istanbul Summit was a turning point in Türkiye’s quest to find more effective and permanent ways to combat natural disasters, conflicts, famine and humanitarian crises as the international community. Bringing together all the stakeholders of the global humanitarian aid system for the first time in history, the Istanbul Summit provided an opportunity for new hopes to sprout for the future as a result of the decisions taken and the solidarity exhibited.
Furthermore, Türkiye extends its humanitarian assistance not only at bilateral level but also through international organizations such as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and World Food Programme (WFP). Thus, Türkiye’s humanitarian aid contributions have gained an international dimension and its cooperation with international institutions operating in the field has been enhanced. In this regard, on 1 July 2014, Türkiye became a member of the OCHA Donor Support Group (ODSG). ODSG is a consultation mechanism aiming at shaping humanitarian policies followed by the OCHA and it brings together top OCHA donor countries.
On the other hand, Türkiye hosts the UN Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development/IICPSD in line with the strategic partnership developed between Türkiye and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). IICPSD, one of UNDP's six Global Policy Centers, was established in partnership with the Government of Türkiye in 2011. It leads UNDP's global work on the private sector and foundations and supports UNDP's offices around the world.
Another example of Türkiye's relationship with the UN is its work with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). After the UN Population Fund started its activities in 1969, it operated together with Türkiye in 1971. UNFPA is a UN primary agency working for a world without unwanted pregnancy, where every birth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. While UNFPA started its activities on Türkiye on a project basis, it currently continues as a 2016-2020 country program.
In addition, the regional office responsible for Europe and Central Asia of the Regional Office for UNDP Europe and CIS and the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN) relocated in Istanbul.
As a result, Türkiye is determined to support the UN in every possible way and is willing to strive for international peace, security and stability, as well as the promotion of basic principles and values such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Relations between the Ministry and U.N.
Participation is provided in the work of the committee on the issues of the UN that fall within the scope of the Ministry and the opinions of Türkiye are reflected in these committees. In addition, the Ministry;
- Contributes to the reporting and defence activities carried out by Türkiye on issues within its field of responsibility within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism affiliated to the UN Human Rights Council.
- Contributes to the preparation of the country report on the implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and participates in the defence at the UN Committee on Migrant Workers.
- Contributes to the preparation of the country report on the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and participates in the defence of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
- Contributes to the country reports submitted to the supervisory bodies (CCPR, CESCR, CEDAW, CRC) on the UN twin conventions (ICCPR and ICESCR) and conventions on the protection of women and children.
In addition, Türkiye is a member of the “Global Forum on Migration and Development”, which is the only and largest unofficial organization conducted by states outside the United Nations. With its politics-oriented and knowledge-based outputs obtained through forum activities, Türkiye becomes a reference point for both governments' policy makers and other relevant stakeholders in the fields of migration and development at national, regional and international levels. Türkiye chaired the Forum on 14-16 October 2015, and the Ministry contributes to the activities of this Forum within the scope of its duties and responsibilities.
The U.N. Basic Human Rights Conventions Ratified by Türkiye