Delegation from Represented by Republic of Turkey Rider University
Position Paper for the General Assembly Third Committee
The issues before the General Assembly Third Committee are: The Right of Peoples to Self-Determination; The Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance; and Ensuring Equitable Access to Education. 1 The Republic of Turkey is invested in ensuring the citizens of the world have the right to self-determine, freely practice any religion and have access to an education that is both easily attainable and in-depth for the growing mind.
The Right of Peoples to Self-Determination
The Republic of Turkey recognizes the importance of self-determination for all peoples and how it provides a backbone to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which set forth the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In accordance with Articles ten and fifteen of the Turkish Constitution, Turkey recognizes the equality of all of its citizens in regards to religion, beliefs, race, color, gender, and political opinion, yet, the restrictions of basic human rights in times of war or national mobilization is also recognized and will not violate international laws in which Turkey is committed to follow. Turkey prioritizes that citizens receive the rights established in General Assembly resolution 71/183 which enforces that self-determination is a universal right to all. Within the region, Turkey amongst other nations has been vocal in recognizing Armenia as a free and independent state since its inception in the beginning of the twentieth century.
In the course of General Assembly Resolution 71/184 the issue of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination was discussed. Turkey in closure had recognized that the Palestinian people have the right to become independent and had voted yes in accordance to allowing them to become their own nation. Turkey continues to support the self-determination of most countries they see fit to be able to govern in a respectable way and contribute to the global society.
In terms of upholding freedoms and human rights in relation to self-determination, Turkey cannot definitely state their stance on the possibility of the independent nation of Kurdistan. The Kurdish people depend heavily on the imports of the other four nations they are currently a part of because of their geographical location, namely, receiving their fuel and oil from solely Turkish pipe lines. If Kurdistan were to become an independent nation, imports from these countries may stop completely. Also, Turkey refuses to allow them to continue to use their pipelines since the Kurds would no longer be a part of the nation. The country of Turkey is formally recognized on the international stage with the geographical borders as of now. So, a disruption to these borders with the proposed attempt to form a nation known as “Kurdistan” would work against the Charter of the United Nations, as detailed within the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. Turkey upholds the importance of the Charter of the United Nations, and does not condone any behavior that would potentially go against this. However, in such an event, Turkey, in turn, bears in mind that the peoples of the United Nations are determined to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors.
II. The Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance
Turkey supports the extension of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in which any form of discrimination based on a person’s religious affiliation is a violation of basic human rights for the individual. During the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and the Greek Government in 1923 both countries came to an agreement in which Orthodox Greeks in Turkey shall not be discriminated against in Turkey while Turkish Muslims shall not be discriminated against in Greece. These two parties shall remain in the territories they have been assigned and not return to their origins. The acknowledgement of the human rights freedoms set forth by the European Convention on Human Rights in 2005, especially those stated under Article Nine concerning freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is seen as extremely vital. Recently, Turkey stands with the international community with General Assembly resolution 71/195 in that constructive conversation should be encouraged and used as a primary action when trying to eliminate the root causes of religious intolerance. A country founded on religious tolerance for all, Turkey supports all efforts made by the international community to make positive steps towards the eradication of religious intolerance for all people practicing all religions.
Turkey demonstrates their support to the international community by first making the effort to eliminate religious intolerance within Turkey’s borders. In June of 2007 the Interior Ministry had placed an order to all law enforcement instructing them to protect non-Muslim places of worship. This action proved effective and following these orders were informal workshops among religious leaders in Turkey to discuss the issues of religious intolerance. For instance, in “August 2009 there was a meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other religious leaders, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, which was followed by a visit to two Greek Orthodox sites.”
Recently at the beginning of 2018 the Turkish Government has re-opened an historic Bulgarian church in Istanbul. The president of Turkey then gave a speech addressing the European nations to express a more open minded outlook towards Turkish religion and culture. Freedom of religion and beliefs in Turkey are constitutional rights, and in order to uphold these important rights Turkey, in addition to the Bulgarian church, has restored fourteen other various places of worship within its borders. Turkey stated that they will continue to contribute and work towards a better relationship with the European Union in the upcoming year, in relation to religious tolerance and other important issues.
III. Ensuring Equitable Access to Education
The Republic of Turkey stands firm in supporting the spread of education for those who do not receive adequate education, or education at all. This work is directly in line with SDG four, which focuses on better educational opportunities for all; directly coming from General Assembly Resolution 70/1. Since its creation when the country was founded, the secular structure of the Turkish educational system has been a role model for other Middle Eastern countries to follow; education also being held as a universal right within the nation. According to a 2014 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report, Turkey has succeeded in achieving a 100% literacy rate for males over the age of fifteen and increased the literacy rate for females over the age of fifteen to 98%. Programs such as Cagdas Yasami Destekleme Dernegi (CYDD) have been put in place to increase educational opportunities for girls and women, especially those living within rural and areas outside of cities within Turkey to raise the female literacy rate to 100%.
Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War up to 2017, about 2.7 million Syrian refugees are currently in Turkey; 34% of this number being school-aged children. Turkey is devoted to educating the displaced Syrian children who are entitled to an education as well. In collaboration with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), as of September 2017, the Ministry of Education has created a three year plan to integrate all Syrian refugee children into the Turkish education system. The goal by 2019 is for all refugee children that are at least 4.5 years old to attend at least one year of preschool before entering kindergarten. Citing the dire financial needs of those Syrian families who have let all of their possessions behind to flee danger, the Republic of Turkey has allowed Syrian children to be enrolled in a Turkish program that gives cash allowances to families who need financial help to send and keep their children in school.
According to General Assembly Resolution 64/290, education during a time of emergency crisis still a right for all; similarly, Turkey holds firm the importance of Syrian these children receiving education that they would have received if they were in their own country; i.e. language, religion, history of nation, etc. Therefore, UNICEF has trained over 20,000 teachers of Syrian descent to teach these children alongside the education they are receiving in the structured Turkish education system. Over 400 schools within or near refugee camps within the nation have been renovated to support larger classes and now provide more access to technology for children to access while in class. While these important steps have been made, Turkey recognizes that the process of educating all Syrian children is extensive and detailed. Yet, with education being held in the highest regard as a basic human right, Turkey urges all Member States to continue to accept Syrian refugees into their nations and allow for these displaced children to become fully immersed in an education system.