The OIC Human Rights

Human Rights in Islamic Countries

OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) concludes its 5th Regular Session

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on June 13, 2014


Jeddah 5 June 2014 | 

The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) held its 5th Session in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1-5 June 2014. The Session was attended by Representatives of Member-States, Observer States, Officials of the OIC General Secretariat, as well as the media.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Mohammad K. Ibrahim, the Chairperson of the Commission, highlighted the importance of the role and work of IPHRC in supporting and strengthening Member-States’ efforts in promoting and protecting the human rights of their citizens. To that end, the Chairperson, apprised the participants on the list of activities carried out by the Commission since the last session and enumerated the main issues on which it has been working in the recent past. He also thanked Member States’ keen interest in the work of the IPHRC and requested their strong support for provision of required resources to the Commission for the fulfillment of its mandated responsibilities.

During the five day session, the Commission had in-depth discussions on all items on its agenda including human rights violations in Occupied Palestinian Territories; civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in OIC Member States; as well as specific mandates given to it by the CFM such as Islamophobia, negative impact of unilateral economic sanctions on member states; situation of Rohingya Muslim minority, human rights situation in Central African Republic, and creation of mechanism for monitoring human rights violations against Muslim minorities.

The Commission expressed its disappointment with the continued and ongoing violations of Palestinians’ human rights by the occupying power Israel. It strongly condemned the arbitrary practice of administrative detentions of Palestinian people as discriminatory and contrary to all existing international human rights and legal standards. It called upon OIC Member States to highlight these discriminatory practices at all relevant international human rights forums and requested the upcoming OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) to consider referring the matter to the International Court of Justice, through appropriate channels, for an advisory opinion on its illegality that severely impacts Palestinians’ human rights. The Commission also reiterated its firm stance that Israeli occupation was the primary cause of all human rights violations, which impacts the full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinian people.

During the Session, the Commission considered and finalized two reports on the subjects of “Negative impact of economic and financial sanctions on the full range of human rights of the people in the targeted OIC States” and the “Human rights situation in the Central African Republic”. Based on the existing international law and human rights norms, the first report calls the economic and financial sanctions as illegal, discriminatory and counter-productive to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and other international human rights standards. The report on Central African Republic, which was based on first hand information acquired through an on-ground visit to the affected country as well as refugee camps in the neighbouring states, provides an overview of the ongoing human rights situation in the country with specific recommendations on how to address the state of affected Muslim population as well as steps needed to ensure avoidance of future recurrence of these events. These reports together with the Commission’s specific recommendations would be considered by the upcoming 41st Session of the CFM. 

The Commission also delved in detail on the issues of right to development and human rights of women and children. Discussions on these subjects were complemented by participation of experts from Islamic Development Bank and Islamic Fiqh Academy. It was agreed that joint seminars / symposiums would be held on specific topics and projects in these areas with a view to defining common positions/ views that would help Member States in better understanding these issues from a holistic angle. 

IPHRC regretted the lack of response from Myanmar authorities on its repeated requests to undertake a visit to their country to discuss the issue of Rohingya Muslims. The Commission urged the Myanmar authorities to favorably consider its request, on priority. 

The Commission also issued a press release condemning the factually incorrect and fallacious statement by President Milos Zeman of Czech Republic about Islam. It termed Mr. Zeman’s statement as a clear manifestation of hatred that constitutes incitement to hostility and violence. The Commission reaffirmed that no religion should be equated with violence and extremism and urged relevant international human rights mechanisms to openly denounce such assertions. 

The Commission decided to invite National Human Rights Institutions of Member States in its future symposiums/ workshops, with a view to benefitting from their practical experiences and expertise in dealing with these issues, on ground. The Commission further agreed to address specific themes during its next session and established an adhoc sub-working group to monitor violations of human rights of Muslim minorities.

The Commission thanked those Member States who have provided IPHRC with their human rights legislative, institutional and policy frameworks related to items under consideration and urged remaining Member States to do the same with a view to compiling a list of best practices to be shared with Member States. IPHRC reiterated its call upon all Member States to expedite ratification of the statute of OIC Women Development Organization enabling its early establishment in Cairo. The Commission also finalized the launching of its website that would become operational from 1st of July.

In his concluding remarks, reaffirming Commission’s strong commitment to the responsibilities entrusted by Member States in the area of human rights, the Chairperson expressed Commission Members’ resolve to fulfilling their mandate by continuing to provide expert advisory opinion and recommendations to Member States on all issues of concern in accordance with the OIC Charter and Statute of the IPHRC. Amb Ibrahim also thanked Member States for their valuable inputs on various issues of interest to the Commission, which he added were crucial to the fulfillment of IPHRC’s mandate. He also expressed special thanks to the OIC Secretary General for extending all services for hosting IPHRC Sessions and his continued support to the functioning of the IPHRC Secretariat.

Source: OIC Secretariat

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IPHRC: Press Release on the Abduction of Over 200 School Girls by Boko Haram

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on May 9, 2014


Date: 08/05/2014

The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) is outraged by the abduction of the over 200 school girls in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria and the admission by the Group calling itself “Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnah lid Da’awati wal Jihad” otherwise known as “Boko Haram”, that it carried out the abduction. The Commission is extremely saddened by the misguided claim of Boko Haram that the abduction of the girls and the threat to sell them off as “slaves” is in conformity with the injunctions of Islam. 

Right to education is a fundamental human right, and is in consonance with the basic tenets of Islam. In this regard, IPHRC wishes to stress that the abduction of the Chibok Girls by Boko Haram, thus depriving them the full enjoyment of their right to education as well as right to live in safety, dignity and peace is not only a violation of international law and human rights law, but also a gross misrepresentation of Islam, which enjoins its adherents to go to any extent in the pursuit of knowledge. 

Accordingly, IPHRC joins the international community in unequivocally condemning the barbaric act of abducting the innocent schoolgirls and urges the leadership of Boko Haram to immediately release the abducted girls to enable them join their families and continue with their education. In addition, IPHRC is also calling on the international community, in particular AU and OIC Member-States, to assist the Government of Nigeria, not only in the efforts to rescue the abducted girls, but also to bring to an end the menace of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the neighboring states”. 

In conclusion, IPHRC wishes to extend its sympathies to the families of the abducted girls, and urges the Government of Nigeria to do everything in its power to secure the release of the abducted girls as a matter of urgency.

Source: OIC Secretariat

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Extremists have hijacked Islam, says Madani

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on April 2, 2014


JEDDAH: HABIB SHAIKH

Published — Wednesday 2 April 2014

Extremist voices and groups have hijacked Islam and misappropriated the right to speak on its behalf, according to Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani.

In his address at the inaugural session of the 25th Session of the Arab Summit held in Kuwait recently, he stressed that in actual fact, Islam with its established values and aspirations and with its advocacy of justice, equality, concord, coexistence and mutuality, is totally unrelated to them and to their ideologies and what they call for.

Madani said that the relations between the OIC and the League of Arab States are of a fundamental and pivotal character, with the cause of Palestine, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Quds at the forefront, particularly under the recurrent and systematic Israeli violations aimed at judaizing Al-Quds and the stifling and brutal constraints meted upon the Jerusalamities.

He paid tribute to the close cooperative and consultative relations between the two organizations in their stand in the face of their common issues and challenges, and underlined the OIC’s keen interest in furthering its coordination with the Arab League.

He said that “the advancing danger and the serious challenges facing us all take the shape of discord and mutual killings which have gained ground in our ranks. This is a war where there is no victor but it will invite perils for all.” He recalled that the Extraordinary Islamic Summit which was held in Makkah in 2012 had adopted the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud for the establishment of a Center for Dialogue among the Islamic Doctrines for the benefit of mutual understanding. He added that the OIC is striving hard to ensure that the Center becomes a reality in the near future.

The Secretary General invoked a number of other challenges facing the OIC and the Arab League, including the identity challenge, the challenge of achieving an innovative approach to coexistence that is mindful of the legitimate national interests of states and that lays the foundations at the same time for regional and inter-regional concord and coexistence and maximizes mutual interests and benefits rather than engaging in conflicts and mutual killings.

Source: Arab News

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OIC takes steps to empower women

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 11, 2014


WOMAN POWER: Maha Akeel, chief editor of OIC Journal, delivering the opening statement and introducing the short film made by the Information Department for the occasion. (An photo)

JEDDAH, by HABIB SHAIKH  | Published — Tuesday 11 March 2014

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) celebrated International Women’s Day at its headquarters on Sunday.

This is the first time that the organization held an event to mark the occasion in support and appreciation of women and their role in society.

The OIC event focused in particular on Muslim women and the challenges they face, whether at home, at work or in society.

The OIC is mandated to explore opportunities for women to take part in the development of Muslim society and enhance their capacity in order to enable them to play an active role in all walks of life in its 57 member states.

Invitees were briefed on the various programs, projects and activities undertaken by the OIC to empower women and advance their status during numerous presentations made by the organization’s different departments.

The OIC highlighted its programs, projects and activities in various fields, such as education, health, humanitarian, economy and human rights domains, in support of women in the Muslim world.

The celebration included a photo and caricature exhibition and a short film highlighting the obstacles to women enjoying their full rights. The event also highlighted achievements and success stories of women in those states.

Ambassador Abdullah Ali, assistant secretary-general for Political Affairs, welcomed invitees from the diplomatic corps, intellectuals and media personalities on behalf of Secretary-General Iyad Madani.

Ali said that the anniversary demonstrates the interest and honor devoted to Muslim women by expressing collective pride in their distinctive status and roles, confirmation of their legitimate rights and unwavering support for their contributions as full-fledged partners in construction, development and progress in the Muslim world.

The event was celebrated under the slogan “Equality for women is progress for all,” reflecting an approach that has become a prerequisite for women’s empowerment.

The event also sought to address the conditions of economic vulnerability, social exclusion and injustice under which Muslim women live, which include deprivation of education and the right to a decent life.

Ali said that the OIC believes that helping women improve their status and strengthening the role of legislative bodies will guarantee women protection against discrimination and violence and would ensure their participation in the development and decision-making process.

Member states had adopted an action plan for women’s advancement based on political commitments and pledges made by the Extraordinary Islamic Summit Conference in Makkah in 2005.

Source: Arab News

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OIC Rights (IPHRC) 4th Session

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 11, 2014


JEDDAH, by IBRAHIM NAFFEE | Published — Monday 3 February 2014

The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) began its fourth session in Jeddah on Sunday in the presence of new secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation Iyad Madni and chairman of the OIC IPHRC Ambassador Muhammad Kawu Ibrahim.

The commission will have in-depth discussions during its five-day event on some very important and contemporary issues such as Islamophobia and discrimination based on religion, human rights violations of Palestinian people and the situation of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

In the weeklong session, the commission is expected to comprehensively discuss all issues on its agenda, including the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in the OIC member states.

Source: Arab News

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OIC seeks rights debates based on Islamic values

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 11, 2014


Iyad Madani, OIC SG

JEDDAH: HABIB SHAIKH | Published — Tuesday 4 February 2014

One of the major challenges of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is finding ways to enrich global human rights debates with Islamic values and principles, said Iyad Madani, the newly appointed OIC secretary-general.

In a statement issued at the fourth session of the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), on Sunday here, Madani said that current international human rights laws are based on Western values.

He said the OIC was looking particularly at limitations on freedom of expression, gender equality, applying human rights in accordance with the OIC member states’ constitutional and legal systems, and stopping the spread of extremism.

With reference to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration on Human Rights and major UN human rights instruments, he said most OIC countries have “willingly adopted and implemented international human rights norms. However, there are a number of issues that go beyond the normal scope of human rights and clash with Islamic teachings,” Madani said in the statement.

Freedom of expression is considered a fundamental right, but despite “repeated incidents of hatred and violence resulting from discrimination based on stereotyping and stigmatization of individuals, communities and religions, some countries continue to refuse any limitations or responsible use of this right,” Madani said.

“Muslim countries wanting to ensure respect for the sanctity and reputation of religious values, scriptures and personalities for the promotion of peace in society are criticized for limiting this freedom through blasphemy laws.”

“One of the main issues related to the gender equality debate is the very definition of the term gender. While OIC countries prefer to use the notion of equality between men and women, Western countries push for the term ‘gender,’ which goes beyond the normal definition of man and woman into the direction of how one perceives him or herself rather than his or her actual physical appearance.”

“Another challenge facing the commission is that all references to human rights in the OIC documents stipulate that these principles should be applied in accordance with the member states’ constitutional and legal systems.”

He said there needs to be a way found to define these stipulations, and create “a yardstick that each individual member state can look at to measure the distance between the Islamic human rights model and its own laws and practices,” he said.

Another important challenge was how to “deprive the extreme voices” in member states from claiming they represent Islam.

“The road ahead is full of challenges, but the OIC now has the framework and mechanism to move ahead, and the commission is the spearhead of this effort,” Madani said.

He said that the OIC takes pride in the fact that Islam was the first religion that laid down universal fundamental rights for humanity. The OIC had since its inception taken care to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, safeguard the rights of women and their participation in all spheres of life, and assist Muslim minorities and communities outside the member states to preserve their dignity, and cultural and religious identities.

The OIC charter stipulated the formation of the IPCHR, as one of its organs to promote civil, political, social and economic rights in conformity with Islamic values.

In its 10-year strategic plan, approved in Makkah in 2005, the OIC asserted that it was important for member states to revive the Muslim Ummah’s pioneering role on rights issues. They should expand the scope of political participation, ensure equality, civil liberties and social justice, promote transparency and accountability, and eliminate corruption.

The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam embodies the OIC’s most complete statement on human rights in Islam. Other documents followed suit including the covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam and the OIC Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women.

“The commission has done commendable work on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories; on the issue of discrimination and intolerance against Muslims and on the issue of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar,” Madani said.

The commission also established four working groups to address these issues in an effective and sustained fashion: on Palestine, on the Rights of Women and of the Child, on Islamophobia and Muslim minorities, and on Right to Development. It also created an ad hoc working group to establish a proper framework for interaction between the IPHRC and member states’ human rights institutions and civil society organizations.

Source: Arab News

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Fourth Session of the IPHRC

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 11, 2014


Jeddah | February 5, 2014

IGO welcomes the discussion at the Commission’s fourth session and supports the Commission’s objectives to strengthen the global framework of human rights collectively.

On February 2nd, the fourth session of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission started in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where the panelists will sit for five days to discuss civil, political, social and economic rights in the Member States.

The Commission is the principal organ of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the domain of human rights.

Iyad Amin Madani, the Secretary General of OIC, pointed to four challenges facing the Commission: limitations on freedom of expression, gender equality, applying human rights in accordance with the Member States constitutional and legal systems, and stopping the spread of extreme voices in the Member States.

Madani stressed extremism is a violation of all rights of Muslims as Islam is the first religion that laid down a framework for human rights and he called for all Muslims to spread the message of Islam as a guarantor of human rights and tackle extremism and fanaticism.

The Commission has done commendable work to help minorities and Muslim communities outside the Member States to maintain their dignity, culture and religious identity, particularly in Palestine and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

The Commission consists of 18 Members, who serve in their personal capacity in supporting Member States for the promotion and protection of human rights for all in an independent manner, in accordance with the OIC Charter and its Statute.

Source: IGO

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Human rights experts’ recommendations to Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 11, 2014


10 November 2013 | by Turan Kayaoglu  and Marie Juul Petersen 

The international human rights community faces daunting challenges in advancing human rights in the Muslim world.
Despite being well placed to address those challenges, the most important organization among Muslim states, the OIC, has so far failed to do so. Over the course of the past decade, the OIC has been working to correct this. It has become an active participant in international debates concerning human rights.
In 2008, the organiza¬tion’s charter was revised to include the promo¬tion and protection of “human rights and funda¬mental freedoms” among its goals. The revised charter also paved the way for an Independent Permanent Commission on Human Rights (IPHRC) to promote the civil, social, and economic rights enshrined in the organization’s human rights documents. In establishing the IPHRC and thereby formalizing its human rights agenda, the OIC has taken an important step in the right direction.
In September, a group of specialists in Islam and human rights came together at the Danish Institute for Human Rights in Copenhagen to discuss the IPHRC’s potential as an advocate for human rights in OIC’s member states. The group formulated a set of recommendations which were sent to the OIC, outlined at the end of this article.

Introduction

In June 2011, foreign ministers of countries part of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) met in Kazakhstan to establish a new human rights commission: The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC). After first meeting in Jakarta in February 2012 and Ankara in August 2012, the commission concluded its third session in Jeddah in October 2013.

With a mandate to ”advance human rights” and “support the Member States’ efforts to consolidate civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights,” the IPHRC has the potential to become a much-needed forum for constructive exchange of experiences, introspection and internal criticism among OIC member states. As a government representative said at the meeting in Kazakhstan: “It will be 100 times better to hear what is happening in our countries from our own people rather than from the outside world.” But if the IPHRC is to live up to its potential and not end up serving as window-dressing for notorious human rights violators, it needs to strengthen and clarify its position with regard to a number of areas.

Introducing human rights to the OIC agenda

The OIC was founded in 1969 for the purpose of strengthening solidarity among Muslims. In its first decades, the organization focused especially on the Palestinian cause, the protection of Islamic holy sites and the strengthening of economic cooperation between member states.

Currently, as an intergovernmen¬tal body, it is second only to the UN in terms of membership and scope. It has 57 members – most, not all, are Muslim-majority states. It deals with a range of issues: peace and conflict resolu-tion, Muslim minority communities, women’s and children’s rights, humanitarian assistance, com¬bating Islamophobia, the promotion of intra-OIC trade and investment, cultural exchange, and education.

International human rights were not high on the agenda. On the contrary, in 1991, the organization presented the so-called Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, introducing what many human rights scholars considered an alternative set of rights that were based on certain interpretations of Islamic law that are contrary to international human rights standards. Together with the grave human rights violations of many member states, initiatives such as this one have given the OIC a dubious reputation with respect to international human rights.

In 2005, a plan to reform the organization, the “Ten-Year Programme of Action,” was introduced, resulting in major changes. An important part of this was the introduction of human rights to the OIC agenda, in particular the establishment of the IPHRC.  “Establishment of an independent human rights body by the OIC Member States is considered to be one of the major steps in the transformation process of the OIC,” an OIC newsletter states.

The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission

The IPHRC was formally established in June 2011 and held its first session in January 2012. The commission consists in 18 experts, of whom six are from the Arab member states, six from the Asian member states and six from African member states. All experts are elected for a period of four years. According to the statutes, the IPHRC and its 18 experts will work to “advance human rights” and “support the Member States’ efforts to consolidate civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.” This is to be done through providing counseling and legal advice to member states, information campaigns, research and cooperation with other human rights organizations.

At the inaugural speech in IPHRC’s first session in Jakarta in 2012 and during the opening remarks at the third session on Oct. 26, 2013 in Jeddah, the secretary-general, Professor Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, outlined five principles. First, the commission will complement rather than replace other national and international human rights mechanisms. Second, it will follow an introspective approach, helping OIC member states improve human rights practices. Third, it will fulfill a guidance function, providing member states with services like human rights training for the police. Fourth, it will take an incremental approach, building its credibility and mandate over time. And finally, the commission will prioritize the most pressing hu¬man rights problems. These principles put forward by İhsanoğlu were also endorsed by the commission.

Human rights experts’ recommendations to the IPHRC

In September 2013, the Danish Institute for Human Rights invited a group of international human rights researchers to discuss the OIC’s new human rights approach, with a particular focus on the IPHRC. Due to the relative novelty of the IPHRC and the scarcity of concrete initiatives, statements and activities proposed by the commission so far, the researchers did not find that there was ground for an evaluation of the IPHRC as such.

The specialists also noted that despite its shortcomings, the IPHRC has poten¬tial to become an advocate of human rights in the OIC’s member states. To this end, the group formulated a number of recommendations for the commission to take into consideration in its future work.

The following recommendations, proposed by the human rights experts, whose members are listed below, offer concrete suggestions for how the IPHRC can realize its mission in a way that is consistent with the above five principles that İhsanoğlu outlined and the commission endorsed.

The IPHRC should affirm and uphold internationally agreed upon human rights standards and instruments. This includes:

  • Recognition by commissioners that OIC member states are bound by international human rights obligations.
  • Agreement among commissioners that international human rights treaties constitute minimum standards and that regional human rights instruments must always meet, or exceed, these minimum standards.
  • Agreement among commissioners to use only international human rights law as the benchmark in assessing all human rights issues, and clarification of the status of the Cairo Declaration to this end.
  • Review of existing member states’ reservations to international human rights treaties, and elaboration of recommendations to remove reservations that undermine the object and purpose of the treaty in question.
  • Affirmation of Shariah consistency with international human rights law by rejecting interpretations of Shariah that violate or undermine international human rights law and by elaborating alternative interpretations that respect and further international human rights law.

The IPHRC should encourage and practice transparency and accessibility in its activities. This includes:

  • Publication of a comprehensive calendar of meeting times and places well in advance to facilitate participation from civil society, media and other actors interested in the IPHRC.
  • Establishment of a system for the rotation of sessions across member states.
  • Development and maintenance of a regularly updated website with information on IPHRC activities and statements, as well as other human rights-related OIC activities.
  • Establishment of an IPHRC secretariat in a place that is easily accessible to civil society, media and others within and outside the OIC.

The IPHRC should engage with civil society and encourage its participation in the IPHRC’s work. This includes:

  • Facilitation of civil society access to IPHRC sessions.
  • Organization of civil society forums in parallel with all IPHRC sessions.
  • Establishment of cooperation with human rights-related think tanks and research institutions inside and outside the OIC member states.
  • Facilitation of inter-sessional dialogue with civil society organizations.
  • Facilitation of human rights and civil society organizations’ access and lobby to the member states’ governments.

The IPHRC should engage in regional and international collaboration. This includes:

  • Adoption of a common strategy with regional organizations (e.g., the OSCE, or Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) for addressing issues of religious intolerance.
  • Establishment of institutionalized relations with international human rights mechanisms. These relations could be maintained by holding every third IPHRC session in Geneva or New York.
  • Establishment of relations with OIC member states and other relevant experts in UN bodies, possibly by establishment of external advisory board to the IPHRC.
  • Appointment of an IPHRC focal person in Geneva to facilitate regular communication with UN human rights bodies.

The IPHRC should strengthen its internal composition. This includes:

  • Promotion of gender diversity among IPHRC commissioners.
  • Promotion of religious diversity among IPHRC commissioners.
  • Ensuring the independence of commissioners.
  • Establishment of transparent mechanisms for selecting candidates, ensuring public access to and information on the pool of candidates.
  • Establishment of a mechanism that ensures nomination and election of experts with a strong record of defending international human rights standards.

The IPHRC should strengthen OIC and member state capacities and knowledge on human rights. This includes:

  • Promotion of peer-to-peer capacity development.
  • Promotion of capacity development by external human rights experts.
  • Mainstreaming of outputs to relevant OIC agencies and departments.
  • Regular publication of thematic reports on human rights in member states.
  • Regular publication of country-specific reports.

After completing the above steps, the IPHRC (and the OIC) should ensure sustainable resources for its work. This includes:

  • Upgrade of human resources in the IPHRC secretariat.
  • Strengthening the IPHRC and its secretariat’s fundraising capacity.
  • Encouragement of in-kind support by international human rights experts, institutions and organizations.
  • Advertisement of volunteer positions and internships with the IPHRC.
  • Introduction of a system for secondment with other international human rights institutions and organizations.

Signatories*

Evelyn Aswad, professor, College of Law, Oklahoma University, US

Mashood Baderin, professor, School of Law, University of London

Verena Beittinger-Lee, Ph.D., researcher, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent, UK

Anthony Chase, associate professor, Diplomacy and World Affairs, Occidental College, US       

Ioana Cismas, Ph.D., international human rights lawyer, Switzerland   

Turan Kayaoglu, associate professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, US             

Ann Elizabeth Mayer, associate professor, Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department, University of Pennsylvania, US               

Mahmoud Monshipouri, associate professor, Department of International Relations, San Francisco State University, US               

Johannes Morsink, professor, Department of Political Science, Drew University, US

Marie Juul Petersen, Ph.D., researcher, Danish Institute for Human Rights, Denmark

Heini Skorini, Ph.D. student, King’s College, University of London, UK

*This article reflects the views of its two authors and not necessarily those of the other signatories to the recommendations.

*Turan Kayaoğlu is an associate professor at the University of Washington in Tacoma.

Source: Todays Zaman

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Press Release of OIC IPHRC on International Women’s Day 2014

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 11, 2014


IPHRC Secretariat, 08/03/2014

The Independent Permanent Human Right Commission (IPHRC) of the OIC, on the occasion of the Intentional Women’s Day (IWD), joins women advocates of rights of women and girls all over the world in celebrating the achievements of women in all facets of life; while fully cognizant of the fact that immense work still lies ahead in the effort to improve the socio-economic condition of women around the globe. 

These challenges range from violence to various forms of discrimination. Women continue to be discriminated in areas such as access to education, employment, resources as well as participation in political and policy decision making processes at national and international levels. Being one of the vulnerable groups, women under conflict/foreign occupation; with disability and those who live in extreme poverty also face multiple forms of discrimination. 

While equal access to education and employment and participation in decision making processes is fundamental to ensuring women empowerment and gender equality, the process must begun with addressing de-facto and de-jure discrimination in policy and practice at all levels including through training of concerned officials, and awareness raising of general public. Women must be able to shape the future of their countries by being involved in all reform processes from the beginning. Their full participation is essential not only for their empowerment, but for the advancement of society as a whole. 

IPHRC recalls that Islam forbids discrimination on any grounds including race, religion or sex. In recognition of the rights granted to women by Islam, OIC Member States adopted the OIC Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women (OPAAW) that calls upon Member States to take specific actions to ensure their effective participation in the economic, social, political and cultural aspects of the society. 

IPHRC has set women’s rights as one of its top priority issues since its first session in Jakarta in 2011. The Commission has also established a special Working Group on women and child rights to undertake studies and research on the situation of women in the OIC Member States and to provide technical cooperation and awareness-raising toward the enhancement and the betterment of their lives. The Working Group is currently carrying out a study on legislation and policies pertaining to rights of women in Member States with a view to presenting best practices on eliminating discrimination and violence against women and girls, which hamper full enjoyment of their human rights. 

On this important day, IPHRC calls upon all Member States to ratify the statute of OIC Women Development Organization (WDO), on priority. This will enable the WDO to start its valuable work i.e. helping Member States in effective implementation of the OPAAW.

The Commission supports all women who are contributing and working for positive changes in their families, communities and societies. IPHRC also looks forward to working and collaborating with other international, regional and national institutions to promote the laudable goal of women empowerment and gender equality.

Source: OIC Secretariat

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OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) concludes its 4th Session

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on February 25, 2014


Jeddah, Saudi Arabia | 16/02/2014

The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) held its 4th Session in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 2 – 6 February 2014. The Session was attended by Representatives of Member-States, Observer States, Officials of the OIC General Secretariat, as well as the media.

The OIC Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Iyad Ameen Madani opened the Session, and in his remarks on the occasion, he re-emphasized the expected role of the Commission in strengthening Member-States’ efforts in promoting and protecting the human rights of their citizens. He enumerated a number of challenges that the Commission must confront head-on, in particular the question of finding an Islamic discourse that enriches the debate on human rights, as well as providing the right yardstick to Member-States for effectively discharging their universal human rights obligations.

The Chairperson of the Commission, Ambassador Mohammed K. Ibrahim, thanked the Secretary-General for his supportive remarks and assured him that the Commission was fully aware of its responsibilities as the first OIC independent human rights organ. In this regard, the Chairperson promised that the Commission would do its best to not only to fulfill its mandate, but also bring more international respect to OIC Member-States’ human rights records.

During the five day session, the Commission and its four working groups deliberated in detail on all items on its agenda including human rights violations in Occupied Palestinian Territories; civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in OIC Member States; as well as specific mandates given to it by the CFM such as Islamophobia, impact of unilateral economic sanctions on member states; situation of Rohingya Muslim minority and other Muslim communities.

The Commission also deliberated on the issue of its relationship with the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and civil society, including NGOs, and decided to elaborate a proper framework for interaction with these important stakeholders, to be finalized during the next IPHRC Session. The Commission also called on all OIC Member States to provide IPHRC with their human rights legislative, institutional and policy frameworks related to items under consideration so as to enable it to compile a list of best practices to be shared with the Member States. IPHRC also called upon Member States to expedite ratification of the statute of OIC Women Development Organization enabling its early establishment in Cairo.

At the end of the Session, the IPHRC sent a letter to the Foreign Minister of Myanmar expressing Commission’s desire to undertake a visit to discuss the issue of Rohingya Muslims.

The Commission also issued two important press releases on the subjects of combating extremism within OIC countries as well as calling for an end to the harmful practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which coincided with the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, on 6th February.

In his concluding remarks, reviewing the work during the Session, the Chairperson indicated that the Commission deliberated in detail various human rights concerns of OIC Member-States, as well as the Islamic Ummah. He stated that the Commission was committed to doing its best to use the richness of Islamic values and traditions to nurture a new human rights culture within and beyond the OIC borders. This would help promote the principles enshrined in the OIC Charter, with respect to good governance, human rights and human dignity, he added.

Source: OIC Secretariat

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The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission Closes its 3rd Regular Session in Jeddah Decides to visit Palestine and Myanmar to assess human rights situation

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on November 1, 2013


Date: 31/10/2013 

The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) concluded its Third Session in Jeddah today, Thursday, 31 October 2013. The 5-day Session was presided over by its new chairperson, Ambassador Mohammad Kawu Ibrahim from Nigeria. 
The Commission had in-depth discussions on some of the very important contemporary issues such as Islamophobia and discrimination based on religion, human rights violations of Palestinian people and situation of Rohingyas Muslim minority in Myanmar. In this regard, the Commission strongly condemned the continuing human rights violations perpetrated by the occupying power Israel in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. The Commission Members strongly condemned the policy of settlements in terms of its implications towards the whole range of human rights of the Palestinian people as well as stifling international efforts towards durable peace in the Middle East. The Commission decided to undertake a visit to Palestine (Gaza Strip and the West Bank) to ascertain the human rights situation on the ground with a view to making appropriate recommendations to the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM). 

On the other hand, the Commission welcomed the recommendations made by the OIC Contact Group on Myanmar and hoped that the first visit by the Group in mid November will contribute to the realization of the rights of the Rohingya. The Commission decided to send their own fact-finding mission to Myanmar to assess the situation of Rohingya Muslims. It also considered organizing a seminar/workshop on interfaith dialogue regrouping Buddhist and Muslim religious leaders. 

The Commission also deliberated on various aspects of the four priority areas identified in its first session, i.e., Human Rights of Women, Rights of the Child, Human Rights Education and the Right to Development. In order to pursue these issues in a more organized and focused manner, the Commission established four working groups namely the Working Group on Palestine; Working Group on the Human Rights of Women and of the Child; Working Group on Islamophobia and Muslims Minorities and Working Group on the Right to Development. While Human Rights Education, being a cross cutting issue, will be pursued by all Working Groups, an ad hoc Working Group on contact and relationship with national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and civil society was also established. 

The Commission briefed the OIC Member States on its interaction with other international and regional organizations and organs working in the field of human rights, particularly women rights. 

As mandated by the Summit and Council of Foreign Ministers, the Commission also finalized and presented three reports on the subjects of Discrimination and intolerance against Muslims, the human rights situation of Rohingya Muslims and the negative impacts of economic and financial sanctions on the full enjoyment of human rights. 

The Commission reiterated its request to Member States to provide information on their legislation on the rights of women and children with a view to studying their compatibility with relevant Islamic teachings and international human rights obligations and to come up with a compendium of best practices and model legislation on these subjects. The Commission also called for close collaboration with organizations and institutions in the field of interfaith and inter-civilizational dialogue, including the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICID) and the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue. 

The 18 member Commission is expected to formally meet for the Fourth Session by early February in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Source: OIC Sec

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OIC Secretary General Opens the 3rd Regular Session of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on October 30, 2013


Jeddah, Saudi Arabia | 27/10/2013

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu opened the Third Session of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) on 26 October 2013 in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

In the statement delivered on this occasion, Prof. Ihsanoglu highlighted that the establishment of IPHRC was a milestone achievement in the four decade long history of OIC and appreciated Member States’ overwhelming support in creation of this institution in half the time stipulated by the Ten Year Programme of Action. He further stressed that this advisory mechanism was needed not only for introspection and helping Member States in crafting, devising and implementing appropriate policies that are in line with fundamental human rights but also to dispel the growing misperception about the incompatibility between Islam and human rights. 

Prof. Ihsanoglu stressed that Islam called for full equality among human beings regardless of their race, religion, language, ethnic origin or social status, etc. and placed ‘hukook ul ibad’ or ‘rights of the people” on a very high pedestal. In that context, he underscored the important task of the Commission, which was to work in the context of bringing about the relevance of Islam in solving the problems and concerns of mankind in the present age. He urged Commission Members to prepare comprehensive research/studies on priority areas identified by the IPHRC and recommended to establish close working relationship with relevant international and regional organizations and mechanisms working in the field of human rights, in particular the United Nations. 

Representing the host country, H.E Ambassador Taib, Director General of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Makkah Region, welcomed the Commission Members to Saudi Arabia and expressed best wishes for a successful and productive IPHRC Session. He further underscored the importance of this Commission and the hard work put in by the Commissioners in fulfilling their mandates. He also reiterated the strong support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the work of the IPHRC and also requested other OIC Member States to extend their full cooperation to this important organ of the OIC. 

At the start of the Session, Ms Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, the interim Chair of the IPHRC, handed over the Chair to the new Chairperson, Ambassador Mohammed Kawu Ibrahim, from Nigeria, who in his opening remarks to the meeting highlighted that being the first ever human rights expert body for the Muslim World operating in an intergovernmental framework, this Commission fills a historical gap. She expressed confidence that with the valuable support and cooperation of the Member States and other relevant stakeholders, the IPHRC would achieve its objective in restoring the true image of Islam as a religion that not only embraces human rights but has even preceded its elaboration, at the international level, centuries ago. 

In the next five days, the IPHRC is expected to discuss issues on its agenda; including the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in OIC Member States in particular the rights of women and of children; the right to development; human rights education; as well as the human rights aspects and situations in Occupied Palestinian Territories and that of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Source: OIC Secretariat 

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Opening Statement by H.E the Secretary General of the OIC at the Third Regular Session of the OIC IPHRC

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on October 30, 2013


Jeddah, Saudi Arabia | 26/10/2013 

Distinguished Members of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission, 
Distinguished Heads of Missions, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, 
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Let me take this opportunity to extend a very warm welcome to all of you to the Third Regular Session of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission. 

The Session is starting with the pleasant news. I am very happy to extend my congratulations to the newly elected bureau members of the IPHRC in particular its new Chair Ambassador Muhammed Kawu Ibrahim. Their election by consensus speaks volume of the very cooperative relationship between Commission Members. I am sure this cooperation will also result in productive and substantive output from the IPHRC. On behalf of the General Secretariat I assure the Commission Members of its consistent and full support in discharge of their mandates. 

I am grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting this session and presence of H.E. Ambassador Mohammad Taib, who in his speech has eloquently highlighted the importance of this Commission for the work of OIC. Commitment of Saudi Arabia and other Member States to the work of this Commission remains crucial to achieving desired objectives set out by the Ten Year Programme of Action and the Charter of OIC in the field of human rights. 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

As I have repeatedly stated, establishment of IPHRC is a milestone achievement in the four decade long history of OIC. IPHRC was among my priorities when I assumed the office and it provides me with a sense of fulfillment that it has come into being during the period of my tenure. 

While I take pride in zealously working for the establishment of this important organ in the OIC, I would like to put on record my sincere acknowledgement and appreciation for the Member States’ overwhelming support in creation of this institution in half the time stipulated by the Ten Year Programme of Action. Granting this body the statutory status of an independent organ as well as adoption of its Statute and Rules of Procedures were also done in a remarkably short time. 

All these developments reflect the defining characteristics of the new OIC, best summarized as “moderation and modernization process”. I am confident that such developments would ensure the resolute joint Islamic action that was envisioned by the Member States through the OIC Charter, Ten Year Programme of Action and bring added credibility to this respected international organization. 

I would also like to put on record my deep appreciation for the work done by the esteemed Members of this Commission. In a very short span of time, they have been able to produce a good set of rules of procedures and have been actively involved in crafting various aspects of their organizational and substantive work mandated by the Member States. Their interaction and participation in various human rights forums and organizations have also been widely appreciated by relevant international actors, which is a source of satisfaction for all of us. 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The importance of this Commission in the OIC cannot be underestimated from any stand point. This advisory mechanism is needed not only for introspection and helping Member States in crafting, devising and implementing appropriate policies that are in line with fundamental human rights but also to dispel the growing misperception about the incompatibility between Islam and human rights. 

As a student of history and religion, I firmly oppose this notion. Islam is not merely a body of metaphysical doctrines, or a set of rituals, or even a set of rules of individual conduct. It indeed is a way of life, the basis of which lie rooted in divine revelations; a way of life, which is oriented to doing God’s will and actualizing good and righteousness in human life. 

Islam was the first religion that laid down universal fundamental rights for humanity, which are to be observed and respected in all circumstances. Islam called for full equality among human beings regardless of their race, religion, language, ethnic origin or social status, etc. and placed ‘hukook ul ibad’ or ‘rights of the people” on a very high pedestal. 

Distinguished Commission Members, 

An important task of the Commission would, therefore, be to bring about, through its work, the relevance of Islam to the problems and concerns of mankind in the present age. As recognized experts in the field of human rights and a think tank of the OIC on the subject, you must act to highlight the importance and relevance of Islamic values and teachings to addressing serious challenges faced by the present day humanity. 

Your expert advice could help the OIC to formulate policies and chart plans to addressing challenges faced by Ummah at national, regional and international levels in the field of human rights. I would recommend the Commission to appropriate creatively the healthy and beneficial elements from the cumulative treasure of human experience, and to employ them to serve the higher end of life embodied in the Islamic tradition. 

Your work would go a long way in dispelling misperceptions about our religion and projecting its true values. It would also help mainstreaming the human rights dimensions in the OIC programmes and activities aimed at facilitating the full enjoyment of human rights for Muslims and non-Muslims in Member States as well as of Muslim communities and minorities in non Member States. 

As I said on previous occasions, we have resolute confidence that this Commission would help bring a paradigm shift within OIC in the way universal rights and freedoms flow together with Islamic values to offer a coherent and strong system aimed at facilitating the full enjoyment of all human rights. 

Respected Commissioners, 

You are also aware that there is a high degree of expectation in terms of your future work. The OIC believes that the human rights framework to be pursued by the IPHRC should be based on structured engagement. An engagement that could underwrite global peace, security and stability by removing misperceptions and promoting interfaith harmony. Assisting the Member States in this important area could form a primary focus of the Commission’s work. 

The advantage of your expertise must be utilized to its maximum potential to review and update the OIC instruments on human rights such as the Cairo Declaration. I am sure that the Member States would draw on the full potential of your expertise both vis-à-vis OIC instruments as well as international covenants to come up with recommendations to fill up any gaps or strengthen existing standards. 

The Statute provides with the necessary guidance on the nature and scope of IPHRC. I would, however, summarize the task of the Commissioners to removing the misperceptions regarding the interface between Islam and Human Rights. At the same time, while the Statute of IPHRC entrusts you with specific mandates, your advisory capacity lends you the necessary space for positive interpretation of the mandates. 

I am pleased to note that the five key elements of complementarity, introspection, prioritization, incremental approach and credibility, which I submitted for consideration at the first IPHRC session in Jakarta were endorsed by the Commission as the guiding principles for its work. If pursued diligently, these principles would serve to enhance confidence in Commission’s work both within and outside the OIC, hence improving its credibility and effectiveness. 

I am also pleased that the Commissioners succeeded in evolving a priority list of thematic issues such as Women, Children, Right to development and Education etc. Other equally important areas that have been considered by the Commissioners are the question of Palestine, Islamophobia, incitement to discrimination and hatred on the basis of race and religion and the human rights of Muslim minorities and communities in the non Member States. These are all important and crucial areas that need to be addressed by the Commission. I had also submitted some thoughts on some of these priority areas, which I am sure would be given due consideration by the Commission Members. 

In order to ensure Commission’s efficacy, you must come up with concrete suggestions / best practices on priority areas, which could be presented to CFM for consideration and possible follow up by Member States. 

In terms of methods of work, I would like to submit that the Commissioners may like to work in small Working Groups on each priority area or subject of their specific interest. These working groups would also help consolidate contacts with relevant international human rights bodies on specific subjects and be able to pursue these matters vigorously at different forums. In this manner, concerted efforts could be made to prepare comprehensive research/studies on each subject during the inter-sessional period including through the use of distant communication. These studies should be shared with all Commission Members for views and approval during formal sessions, before onward submission as IPHRC recommendations to the Member States. 

I would also suggest that formal sessions should be dedicated to working on substantive issues and organizational / administrative aspects of IPHRC work could be addressed during the inter-sessional meetings. Establishment of the Bureau in this Session would help facilitate these organizational aspects. 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The establishment of the Commission has been widely acknowledged as a positive step particularly in the human rights circles. It certainly has enhanced the visibility of the OIC but its true potential lies in enhancing the credibility of the OIC. At the same time, being the first cross regional human rights mechanism of its kind on the international scene, it is also under the close scrutiny of international community. There are already some circles closely monitoring its activities. Both the Member States and the Commissioners would have to build on this positive momentum to effectively portray the OIC vision of “moderation and modernization”. 

At our end, despite the limited human and financial resources, the Interim Secretariat within the General Secretariat has spared no effort towards facilitating the work and activities of the Commissioners. As per the Statute requirement, I have appointed the new Executive Director of the IPHRC. Pending a decision on the Headquarters, I have also appointed some colleagues from the General Secretariat to assist the Executive Director. This small team has been working vigorously to assist IPHRC and I am confident that they would ensure the conduct of yet another successful session. They have also prepared and shared a draft Budget, which hopefully will meet the financial needs of IPHRC’s planned activities in 2014. 

Regrettably, the IPHRC could not hold its 3rd Regular Session earlier but am happy to note that there were a range of productive activities in which Commissioners actively participated and presented the IPHRC views. I am confident that from 2014 onwards there will be two regular sessions of IPHRC and steady progress in other mandated activities such as inter-sessional working group meetings and interaction with regional and international human rights mechanisms. 

In order to have a better understanding of the global discourse on human rights as well as to assist the OIC Groups on Human Rights in Geneva and New York, it is crucial that Commission Members must attend the Human Rights Council Sessions in Geneva and Third Committee deliberations in New York. Similarly, the Commission must establish strong working relationships with regional human rights mechanisms from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. I strongly encourage the Commission to undertake the planned visit to EU and if possible attend the ongoing session of the Third Committee in New York, this year. It would help developing better understanding of the political side of human rights as well as establish regular communication channels with important UN mechanisms and agencies. 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The road ahead is long and the challenges numerous. However, the establishment of and support to this Commission are testament of OIC Member States’ continued commitment to prioritize human rights on its agenda. I am confident that through their unswerving commitment and cooperative work Commission Members will soon be able to realize the true potential of this independent advisory mechanism to the OIC. 

I am proud of being the part of this overall effort that led to the creation of this unique and pioneering body of independent experts at the OIC. Their independence is of paramount importance and must be safeguarded. Their expertise should be utilized to better understand the cross cutting nature of human rights related aspects on the whole range of issues on the OIC agenda. Their role must be strengthened as the collective human rights conscience of OIC. I have no doubts in my mind that if utilized effectively, this organ would serve to enhance the visibility and credibility of OIC in the international arena. 

IPHRC should also make use of its potentials in the most organized and professional manner. The Commission must organize itself to function in a coherent and credible advisory body that can perform its mandated tasks to the best interest of Muslim Ummah. As I stated earlier, the need to develop a strategy for an early harvest constitutes an imperative. The Commission must not waste time in addressing substantive issues in a prioritized fashion to realize this potential. I would reiterate my suggestion of a remedial rather than a judgmental approach as a solution provider for the benefit of Member States. I am confident that as mandated by the 12th Summit and 39th CFM, the IPHRC would present its two reports on the malaise of Islamophobia and discrimination against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar to the 40th CFM. 

Let me conclude by expressing my best wishes to the Commission Members for a very productive and successful Session. I shall always be looking forward to hearing good and positive news about this unique mechanism and would be happy to contribute to its success in whatever way I could. 

I thank you all. 

Source: OIC Secretariat

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KSA backs OIC rights commission

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on October 28, 2013


JEDDAH: HABIB SHAIKH

Published — Monday 28 October 2013

Saudi Arabia strongly supports the establishment of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Human Rights Commission, said Mohammed Tayeb, director-general of Makkah province’s branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Addressing the third session of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) on Saturday in Jeddah, Tayeb underscored the importance of this commission and the hard work of the commissioners to fulfill their mandates.

 
Ambassador Mohammed Kawu Ibrahim of Nigeria, who took over from Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin as chairperson, stressed that this commission fills a historical gap, being the first-ever human rights expert body for the Muslim world operating in an intergovernmental framework. 

Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu explained that the establishment of the IPHRC was a milestone achievement in the four-decades long history of OIC. He added that this advisory mechanism was needed for introspection and helping member states in crafting, devising and implementing appropriate policies in line with fundamental human rights. It would also dispel the growing misperception about the incompatibility between Islam and human rights.

He said that addressing present day problems with Islamic values could be a framework for the commission. He added that Islam called for full equality among human beings regardless of their race, religion, language, ethnic origin or social status. 

The commission is to work on highlighting the relevance of Islam in solving modern day problems, said Ihsanoglu. He urged commission members to conduct studies on priority areas and recommended establishing a close working relationship with international and regional organizations in the field of human rights, in particular the United Nations. Ihsanoglu also called on the commissioners to review and update OIC instruments on human rights.

The IPHRC is expected to discuss issues such as civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights within OIC member states in the next five days. The rights of women and of children will be discussed, in addition to the right to development and human rights education, as well as the human rights situations in occupied Palestinian Territories and those of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Source: Arab News

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OSCE Vienna 2013 – Repudiate the Cairo Declaration

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 22, 2013


Published on Saturday, 20 July 2013

This is the seventh in a series of posts on this week’s OSCE “Supplementary Human Dimension” meeting in Vienna. More will be coming in the next few days. See the reference to a list of links at the bottom of this post for previous articles.

The following paper (official pdf version) was filed at today’s OSCE meeting in Vienna by International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA). It calls for the repudiation of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam as having no relevance to what Western nations or the OSCE identify as human rights.

Note: The abbreviation “pS” in the text below is short for “participating State(s)”

OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting

Rule of Law in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

Vienna, July 12th 2013

Session II: Effective National and International Instruments to protect human rights and prevent human rights violations: Best practices, current challenges and solutions

In reference to the excellent discussion of the universality of human rights, ICLA wants to draw attention to a deficiency in this field that can easily and usefully be corrected.

Before we can discuss effective national and international human rights, we need to define the terms unambiguously.

As most here would know, we have two main definitions of human rights, the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the European Human Rights Convention, both sound human rights instruments.

However, a third and potentially dangerous alternative definition exists, sponsored by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), namely the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. This declaration, originally drafted by the Iranian theocratic regime, makes each and every right subject to Islamic law, also known as Sharia. This, in turn, negates the very notion of inalienable individual rights and several other essential values.

The Cairo Declaration is recognized as a so-called “regional instrument” by the United Nations, but rarely, if ever, used or referred to. It is thus functionally redundant, yet its approval creates an unneeded and potentially dangerous ambiguity in the formal definition of the human rights. For Sharia is incompatible with democracy and fundamental human rights, as stated in 2003 by the European Court of Human Rights, and thus the Cairo Declaration is equally incompatible with any meaningful definition of human rights, as well as with several OSCE commitments.

Thus, to avoid willful misinterpretations of what “human rights” refer to, it would be good for the protection of human rights defenders to have the Cairo Declaration explicitly repudiated by those OSCE pS that also hold membership of the OIC. If they do not do so, they should provide a detailed justification for keeping this declaration on the books, and the intended use of it.

ICLA thus recommends that:

  • OSCE makes a statement that the Cairo Declaration has no relevance to its understanding of human rights.
  • OSCE pS that are also members of OIC explicitly repudiate the Cairo Declaration as being of no relevance, now or in the future, for the interpretation of “human rights”.

Source: Right Side News

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Following the current developments in Egypt, the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) issued the statement

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 17, 2013


10/07/2013  | The Commission follows with deep concern and regret the tragic clashes and bloodshed in Egypt over the past week, and deplores all forms of violence and attacks on private and public property, as well as places of worship.

While it reaffirms the need to ensure freedom of expression, including through peaceful demonstrations, for all Egyptians alike without fear for safety, or of reprisal, the Commission strongly condemns all those who have made the situation in Egypt escalate into violence and loss of life.

The Commission reminds that the sanctity of human life is highly revered in all religions, and that the Holy Quran teaches that the unjust deprivation of the right to life of an individual is same as the killing of all people. Islam also commands to respect other’s freedom of religion. Under international human rights law, no derogation from these universal rights may be permitted.

Whereas it reiterates that it is the obligation of States to promote and protect the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, the Commission reasserts that the exercise of these rights has to be carried out in conformity with the law at all times, so as to preserve public safety and order as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Commission also reaffirms States’ obligation to ensure that no one shall be deprived of his or her liberty except on such grounds, and in accordance with such procedure, as are established by the law.

The Commission welcomes the pledge of the Egyptian Interim Authorities to uphold their responsibilities in this regard and to reinstate respect for the rule of law, and it calls upon the latter to ensure the freedom of the media, as well as the early restoration of constitutional democracy.

The Commission also welcomes the recently initiated inclusive dialogue, and encourages all parties and political forces in Egypt to constructively engage in this process, confident that it will enhance peaceful national reconciliation efforts while laying the foundations of a pluralistic society, based on sound democratic institutions, and wherein human rights for all are wholly observed and protected.

The Commission unequivocally supports the right of the Egyptian people to determine their future in their continuous and legitimate quest for development, freedom and social justice, and their right to choose their new leadership through free and transparent elections. It further calls upon the international community to fully respect the free will of the Egyptian people, without interference in the internal affairs of the country. It also underlines that support for the ongoing national reconciliation efforts at this critical moment could not be overemphasized.

As the Holy Month of Ramadan begins, Muslims in Egypt are once more reminded of the true nature of Islam, which instructs them to be compassionate towards each other, and tolerant towards others. All parties and factions in Egypt are urged to resort to calm, hence allowing for the creation of an amicable environment necessary to maintain social peace and cohesion. Exercising maximum restraint and the immediate cessation of all acts of violence and incitement to hatred and violence are imperative to turn over the pages of recent history once and for all.

Source: http://www.oic-oci.org/oicv2/topic/?t_id=8267&t_ref=3334&lan=en

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OIC urges UN chief to ‘do more’ to curb anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 11, 2013


UNITED NATIONS, July 11 (APP): Representatives of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have urged United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN member states to do more to persuade the Government of Myanmar to stem the tide of violence against Muslims in that South East Asian country. Authorities in the South-east Asian country had so far failed to end what amounted to genocide against Muslims, said Roble Olhaye, OIC Chairman and Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the United Nations. Expressing deep concern over the intolerable and unacceptable violence that had left some 130,000 Muslims displaced and living in pitiful conditions, he said it was the Myanmar Government’s responsibility to protect its people, no matter their background or religion.
Ambassador Abdallah Yahya Al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of SaudiArabia, joined Ambassador Olhaye in stressing that the anti-Muslim violence was occurring at a time when Myanmar was enjoying improved diplomatic relations with the rest of the world, and its democratic progress was attracting significant attention.
Despite that progress, however, the Government cannot be allowed to turn a blind eye to egregious violations of human rights against one people, Olhaye emphasized.
He said he had just returned from a meeting with the Secretary-General andhis Special Adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, and had asked them to take a more forceful position in calling on the Myanmar Government to shoulder its responsibility for ending the violence.
Myanmar is having a honeymoon with the world, Al-Mouallimi said, adding,however, that the honeymoon was being built on the bodies of Muslim victims throughout the country. The world could not be swept up by democratic progress in Myanmar if it did not include full rights for Muslims.
The atrocities went beyond the persecuted Rohingya people to affect Muslimsthroughout the country, he said, adding that “we cannot accept that what is happening represents the great Buddhist people”.
It was incumbent upon the Government of Myanmar to protect Muslims and to ensure their right to work, to live safely and to perform their religious rites.
Echoing the call on the Secretary-General to make his voice heard more loudly on the issue, the Saudi ambassador emphasized:  “We have no intentions of standing on the side and watching this process take place without any action”.
He called upon powerful actors, including the United States, the European Union and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), to exercise their influence and ensure that ethnic cleansing in Myanmar was put to an immediate end.
Several waves of clashes between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, the first of which occurred in June 2012, have affected hundreds of thousands of families, mostly Muslims, in the country’s western region. Some 140,000 people, mostly Rohingya, remain displaced in Rakhine and tens of thousands of others have fled by boat.
Asked what more the United Nations system could do to prevent violence in Myanmar, Olhaye replied that the United Nations is part and parcel of the international community that is helping in the reform and democratization process in that country.
As the conscience of the world, the Organization must speak out more loudly in exerting pressure on the Government to stop the violence. There is a lot more that the Secretary-General and the United Nations can do, Al-Mouallimi added, calling, in particular, for efforts to engage personally with the President of Myanmar.
Asked what more the ‘Group of Friends on Myanmar’ could do to end the violence, he said there had so far been a failure to reach agreement on a Human Rights Council resolution condemning the atrocities against Myanmar’s Muslims.
Recalling that his country had joined the consensus in 2012, when the General Assembly had voted to recognize democratic developments in Myanmar, he said it had done so on the understanding that sufficient recognition would be given to the plight of Muslims there.
“We are still waiting,” he said. Indeed, it was not enough to insist on the basic structures of democracy; ending killings and persecution was a far more basic requirement of democracy.
When asked about the type of support that the OIC intended to provide to Muslims in Myanmar, Al-Mouallimi said it had offered to send a humanitarian team and to provide assistance to the victims, but those offers had been rejected by the Government. He called on the international community to ensure that such efforts were better received in the future.
Asked specifically about the Security Council’s inaction on the situation, Olhaye said the OIC’s next stop would be a meeting with Council members that would take place very soon. “We shall see, face-to-face, what will transpire out of those discussions”.
Source: APP

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OIC urges UN to help Myanmar Muslims

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 11, 2013


The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has called on the UN to make more efforts to end the tyranny that Muslims are facing in Myanmar.

During a Wednesday meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, OIC envoys said that the UN should put pressure on Myanmar’s government to resolve problems the Rohingya Muslim community is facing in the country. 

“Myanmar is having a honeymoon with the world. The only problem is that that honeymoon is being built on the bodies of the Muslim victims in that country,” said Saudi ambassador to the UN Abdullah al-Mouallemi. 

Hundreds of Rohingyas have been killed and thousands displaced in attacks by extremist Buddhists in Myanmar over the past year. 

Roble Olhaye, Djibouti’s UN ambassador and head of the OIC group at the UN, described the anti-Muslim attacks in the country as “ethnic cleansing.”

“The Myanmar authorities are failing to take the necessary measures to stem the violence,” he added at a press conference with Mouallemi.

“What we need from the UN is to have its voice heard loud and clear, being the conscience of the world,” Olhaye said. 

The Saudi envoy to the UN also stated that the UN chief had pledged to do more in defending the rights of Rohingya Muslims. “There is a lot more that the UN can and should do,” Mouallemi said. 

“We called on the secretary general to interfere to make his voice heard more loudly.” 

“The most basic human rights and human values are being stepped upon by the current government and by the radical elements within Myanmar,” Mouallemi added.

“There has to be an end to the killing, that is much more basic, there has to be an end to the persecution, to the tyranny that this population is facing,” he said. 

The Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar accounts for about five percent of the country’s population of nearly 60 million. The persecuted minority has faced torture, neglect, and repression since Myanmar’s independence in 1948. 

Thousands of Rohingyas in the western state of Rakhine are deprived of citizenship rights, becoming vulnerable to acts of violence, expulsion, and displacement. 

Source: Press TV

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Malala’s Lessons for the Muslim World

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 11, 2013


by Amb. Ufuk Gokcen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, United Nations

In 2009, Malala Yousafzai, a seventh grade student in the Swat district of Pakistan, made headlines around the world for exposing the inequities that young girls faced under the Taliban in her hometown of Mingora. She has become a symbol of peace through her continued advocacy for education of girls in her region and has been recognized by governments around the world for her important advocacy.

On Oct. 9, 2012, gunmen stopped a bus taking students home from school, asked for Malala Yousafzai by name, and shot her in the head.

In phone interviews following the attack, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban cited her role as an “advocate for the West” as the reason for her targeting and vowed to target her again if she survived.

The Pakistani Taliban is now resorting to other deplorable methods of intimidation by throwing acid on the faces of girls who seek education. The Taliban in Afghanistan has used the same scare tactics.

As the world reels in the face of such senseless brutality, it is easy to generalize the underlying ignorance and intolerance that motivated this attack to the rest of the Muslim world. The perceived rejection of “Western” values by this group of extremists can leave the impression that we are seeing the beginning of a new kind of despotism threatening the rights and lives of anyone who stands up for these values.

The OIC General Secretariat, the newly established OIC Independent and Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), and around 50 Pakistani Ulema were among those condemning the cowardly act of shooting Malala as un-Islamic. However, at the grass roots level, civil society institutions of the OIC member countries, including women and youth, NGOs and clergy, should be more pro-active and vocal.

The small group of extremists, in contrast to 1.5 billion mainstream Muslims, can not represent any Islamic tradition. However, there is a danger. If not challenged, these inhuman terror methods could be emulated elsewhere, such as West Africa and Sahel.

Saudi commentator Tariq Maeena underlined in his op-ed published by the Gulf News that what was indeed disturbing was the absence of forceful rejection by established Islamic religious institutions and figures of such twisted practices and values. Is it possible not to agree? It is high time that ignorant and twisted minds hijacking and misinterpreting the Islamic values are confronted and challenged forcefully by the highest religious authorities.

At the intergovernmental level, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has taken the lead to improve the rights and opportunities of women within its member states. One of the central tenets of the OIC’s Ten-Year Programme of Action is the advancement of women’s rights.

Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the OIC, reinforced the importance of equality and opportunity for women saying, “Women are an important segment of our societies … Their advancement in all the areas is therefore imperative to achieve sustainable and balanced development, and to bring progress and prosperity in society.”

The OIC’s work on behalf women’s rights have included the formation of the OIC Department of Family Affairs which addresses the issues of women, youth, and children and the creation of an Islamic Network of Women Scientists which encourages a greater involvement of women in both scientific and technological fields. The OIC has also partnered with the United States Departments of State and Health as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, civil society, and other international organizations to reduce the mortality rate of women during childbirth and to ensure children’s health during the first month of their life.

Additionally, the OIC made the historic decision to establish the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) in June 2011. Not only does the mission of the IPHRC encourage the placement of women on the Commission, but it has made the rights of women and children its top priority. The 18 member Commission is currently chaired by a woman, Dr. Siti Ruhuaini Dzuhayatin, who is an distinguished lecturer of sociology from Indonesia and helped set up the first women crisis centre in her country. Meanwhile, women even in the most criticized OIC member countries are making historic progress, though in a gradual manner; and others in some member states are holding tight to not lose their rights and acquired standings in the transition to democracy. One common aspect in all these countries is that women are determined to have a stronger say in how their societies and countries are ruled, and they don’t want to go back.

As the OIC focal point in the US-OIC engagement, one of my most pleasant duties was to co-sponsor a symposium in June 2011 with the US Department of State entitled, “Changing Mindsets to Promote Women and Girls in Science.” While the United Nations recently marked the first International Day of the Girl Child, it is the duty of all of us to do more to enable millions of bright minds like Malala to have better prospects and bring down the false obstacles in front of women erected in the name of traditions or the misinterpretation or manipulation of religious teachings.

Source: Huffington Post

Posted in Human Rights and Islam, Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), Pakistan | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Secretary General Discusses Muslims in Southern Thailand with Thai Prime Minister

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 9, 2013


07/07/2013 | Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), met with the Prime Minister of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra in Istanbul on 6 July 2013. Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and other senior government officials were also present in the meeting. 

The discussions focused on the situation in Southern Thailand and the relations between the government and the Muslim communities in that region. 

The Thai Prime Minister expressed to the Secretary General her governments desire to engage positively with the OIC on the issue of the Southern Border Provinces and emphasized her wish to secure peace and stability in that region. 

The Secretary General thanked the Prime Minister for her expressions of good will and encouraged the Thai authorities to accelerate the ongoing process of confidence building measures and to address the root causes of the problem through a comprehensive approach based on empowering the population of Southern provinces to assume the responsibilities of their internal affairs through a system that allows residents to exercise their cultural and linguistic specificities and manage their natural resources under the full respect for the country’s constitution and territorial integrity. 

He further welcomed the steps of the Government of Thailand, in cooperation with Malaysia, to start a constructive dialogue with (BRN), one of the opposition factions, in order to develop a road map to resolve the existing problems through dialogue and he expressed the hope that in future this dialogue will expand and be more inclusive so that other organizations and groups representing Muslims in Southern Thailand can participate. 

The Thai Prime Mınister informed that following the common understanding expressed in the Joint Press Statement issued after the Secretary General’s visit to Thailand in 2007 and the statement following the 2012 visit of the Secretary General’s Special Envoy, the government was in the process of lifting the emergency law in 5 territories following a process of consultation with the local communities. Progress had also been made in the field of education where government supported schools and religious learning centers catering to the local population had been established in the South earlier this year. The Prime Minister further reiterated the Government’s desire to engage in peaceful solutions to the problems of the South and to obtain support of the OIC in that regard. It was also noted that after several meetings the Government had agreed with armed insurgent groups in the South for a ceasefire to take place during the Holy month of Ramadan. 

The Secretary General welcomed these developments as a positive step forward and expressed the willingness of the OIC to contribute to the process of confidence building, dialogue and economic development in the region through the support of the Islamic Development Bank and other OIC organs and agencies. 

The Secretary General reiterated the position of the OIC to support all peaceful initiatives that guaranteed the human rights of citizens and developed mutual understanding, dialogue and cooperation for the betterment of all communities in both Thailand and the wider region. 

The Prime Minister thanked the Secretary General for his support and assured him of the government’s interest in consolidation of relations between the OIC and Thailand to further deepen cooperation to ensure peace and security in the country and the region as a whole.

Source: OIC

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