Turkey’s office of public diplomacy hosted leading figures from around the world on Saturday and Sunday, to partake in the first Istanbul World Forum (IWF), the theme of which was justice. During the conference, secretary general of the Arab League Nabil El-Arabi criticised the ability of the United Nations security council to guarantee justice.
El-Arabi addressed the IWF on Saturday, speaking on the topic of Turkey in world politics and the question of justice. A spokesperson from the Arab league said El-Arabi was invited to the IWF by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In his presentation, El-Arabi criticised the security council, saying that democracy “does not exist at the international level.” He stated, “with the use and abuse of the veto privileges throughout the years, the quest of justice does not often materialise.” He suggested that there should be, “a comprehensive reform of the veto privilege as applied by the security council.” El-Arabi pointed to the current situation in Syria and the plight of the Palestinian people as examples of how politically motivated vetoes have denied justice. El-Arabi clarified that he does not mean to abolish the veto but rather to restrict what actions can be vetoed.
Speaking on the situation in Syria, El-Arabi blamed the continuation of the violence in Syria on the security council, saying “the international community can only stand idly by because our current international legal order continues to fail to perform its most basic functions.”
El-Arabi will also be meeting with the UN and Arab League’s special envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, who is also in Istanbul, to discuss the ongoing unrest in Syria.
The forum featured a variety of notable speakers including politicians, religious figures, activists, writers and artists. In addition to El-Arabi, among those who were invited to speak were Ahmed Maher, one of the leaders of the April 6 youth movement and Gehad El-Haddad, a senior adviser to the Freedom and Justice Party, who spoke during a session titled The New Egypt.
Maher addressed the conference on Sunday on the topic of youth and just politics. He was invited to speak due to his role as the co-founder of the April 6 youth movement and the role the movement played in the toppling of former President Hosni Mubark’s regime in 2011 and its continued role as a watchdog for democracy and social justice in Egypt. El-Haddad, who also spoke on Sunday, discussed the state of post-revolution Egypt. He talked about the fears and aspirations for Egypt’s future.
The conference was hosted by the Turkish office of public diplomacy and the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA). The theme of the conference was justice and the aim was to explore the theme in various contexts including politics, fundamental rights and international law, the arts, media and religious traditions. Through this discussion it is hoped that the current challenges facing the world will become clearer and lead to solutions to these challenges.