Address Of H.E. Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, OIC Secretary General, To The 38Th Session Of The Council Of Foreign Ministers
Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 14, 2011
Astana, Republic Of Kazakhstan
28-30 June 2011
(26-28 Rajab 1432H)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am deeply honored to address the opening session of the 38th session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers taking place in this beautiful and modern city of Astana. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the government and people of Kazakhstan on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the independence of Kazakhstan and thank them for the warm welcome and hospitality. With its peacefully active policy on international scene, Kazakhstan was able to maintain its Muslim identity yet remain on track forward modernization. This is yet another sign of Kazakhstan’s preparedness to lead the Ummah in this difficult time of our history. I wish to commend Kazakhstan under the able leadership of H.E President Nursultan Nazarbayev for hosting and successfully organizing this conference.
My thanks and gratitude also go to the Republic of Tajikistan, Chairman of the 37th CFM for its sincere efforts throughout the past year in assuming its Chairmanship of the CFM.
It will be observed from my reports on the work of the Organisation that the OIC has been able, thanks to your support, to achieve many targets in favor of our Ummah and its causes.
The OIC has come a long way to make its impact felt not only within its Member States but internationally as well. Many circles at the regional and international levels have expressed their continued interest in nurturing a sustained dialogue and in opening lines of communication with our Organization.
Inspired by the new vision and lofty objectives of the Charter and the TYPOA we have managed to elevate the OIC profile that have endowed the OIC with greater significance which engender respect and trust. I can confidently say that the OIC now enjoy greater visibility at the international scene and has become more active and an indispensible actor among international institutions.
As we gather here in Astana to begin our deliberations, I seek your indulgence to make a few remarks about the situation in the Muslim World within the context of the current international climate. Today, as we speak, the Muslim World is confronted with some serious developments with direct impact on its stability, unity, prosperity and development. Unfortunately, the Ummah- in certain parts- still lacks the necessary internal cohesion, strength, solidarity and capacity that are required in order to overcome these daunting challenges.
The Muslim world is going through a defining moment in its history, which further affirms the dire need to speed up the process of concretizing the peoples’ aspiration to good governance, the rule of law, human rights, broader political participation and dedicated national dialogue.
The OIC Charter and the TYPOA are guided by the principles of moderation and modernization. Both documents are based on a perceptive vision that carries in its folds appropriate solutions for such unrest as we are witnessing today in the Muslim world. This is an opportune occasion for me to renew my appeal to all our Member States to kindly see to the implementation of the Ten-Year Programme of Action, particularly in the domain of good governance and rule of law.
Referring to the recent events in North Africa, I would like to welcome the democratic changes in Tunisia and Egypt as a result of an internal popular revolution in these countries. During my recent visits to these two countries I expressed the hope that these changes would strengthen good governance, rule of law, democracy and economic development in them.
We call for a political solution to the Libyan crisis based on the recognition of the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy, justice, rule of law and political reforms. I have dispatched a high level delegation to Tripoli last week and urged for ending violence against civilians as well as providing unhindered access for humanitarian relief. We have also intensified our contacts with the Transitional National Council.
The OIC was following with deep concern the violent events witnessed in a number of cities in Syria. We have called for national dialogue and a speedy implementation for the reforms declared by the Syrian leadership in order to stop violence targeting both civilians and security forces.
The recent developments in Yemen confirm our reiterated appeals to all the parties for the need of exercising self-restraint as well as the need to solve the current crisis through dialogue and understanding to guarantee security and stability of Yemen and peaceful transition of power in this country.
We have supported the all-inclusive national dialogue in Bahrain to reach the aspired national consensus. We reiterate our call to all parties in Bahrain to respond positively to the call for dialogue and give precedence to the supreme national interest of Bahrain.
Developments in Palestine remain of great concern for us. Israel’s practices in occupied Al-Quds continue to pose a serious threat to the sanctities and interests of the Ummah. Settlement activities, attempts to Judaize Al-Quds, uprooting its indigenous Palestinian population and confiscating their homes and properties have escalated and reached alarming rates in the past few months.
Israel’s violations and refusal to honor agreements with the Palestinians, and its flouting of international law and conventions have resulted in a stalemate in the peace process. It is our duty and firm position, therefore, to support the Palestinian decision to resort to the United Nations and have its say in the solution of this protracted conflict. As I speak here, 116 countries so far have recognized the State of Palestine including 55 from OIC Member States. We urge countries including OIC Member States and Observers to recognize Palestine on the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The OIC has come to be accepted as a major player in all international and regional initiatives on Afghanistan. The establishment of the new OIC Permanent Representative’s Office in Kabul will further enhance the role of the Organization along with other partners. Consistent with our strong commitment to Afghanistan, the OIC General Secretariat hosted the ICG meeting on Afghanistan in its headquarters in Jeddah on 3 March 2011. We are also planning to organize a conference of Ulamas as part of our efforts to contribute to the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. We welcomed the recent positive developments in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations following the latest visit by President Karzai to Islamabad.
Recently, I paid an official visit to Iraq and had important talks with the high level Iraqi officials on ways and means to strengthen the cooperation between Iraq and OIC. We agreed on engaging a more comprehensive initiative on the strengthening of the Sunni-Shia relations on the basis of the Makkah Declaration of 2006 which helped the Iraqi national reconciliation.
In the Sudan, I urged both parties to negotiate in good faith pre and post-referendum arrangements related to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). In this regard, we welcomed the recent agreement between the parties to demilitarize the disputed area of Abyei and urged for self restraint in Southern Kordofan. I also welcomed the adoption of the Doha Document by the conference of the stakeholders on Darfur, which met in Doha on 27-31 May 2011.
In Somalia, I have continued to mobilize the Member States to extend all forms of assistance to Somalia. As we approached the end of the transitional period, we urged the Transitional Federal Government to remain focus on the national reconciliation process so as to complete the remaining important tasks under the transitional period.
I am pleased to inform you that I have just completed a tour in early June 2011 which took me to seven African countries: Benin, Togo, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Senegal and Niger. During this trip, we have been able to measure the growing interest of African leaders to be more involved with the OIC activities and intra-OIC cooperation. I also seized this opportunity to raise issues related to joint cooperation with the OIC on the political, economic, social, scientific, educational and cultural fields.
I would like to welcome the positive developments which took place in Côte d’Ivoire on 11th April 2011 following the restoration of constitutional normalcy which allowed H.E. Dr. Alassane Dramane Ouattara, the democratically elected President to assume the office.
The political situation in Guinea and Niger has hopefully evolved in a positive direction. The active engagement of the OIC and other partners in the international community has borne fruits and the two countries are on the way to restoring durable democracy.
The situation in Kashmir, Turkish Cypriot State, Kosovo, occupied Azerbaijani territories including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and Bosnia Herzegovina have continued to be a matter of concern to the OIC.
In a bid to better serve the interests of Muslims and the Muslim Ummah, we have been keen to develop channels of communications with the world leaders and fora where the global and important issues are taken. It is in this context that I take from time to time some missions to achieve this objective. During my official visit to Washington DC last April I was received by US President Obama and met senior officials of the U.S. administration as well as members of the American Congress. Our discussions touched upon a number of issues of concern to the Islamic world. In my recent visit to London, I was received by the Prime Minister and met the Foreign Minister. We agreed to develop a joint framework of dialogue and cooperation between the OIC and the UK on some selected areas such as development aid, humanitarian assistance, science and technology, interfaith dialogue and combating intolerance. I also discussed in my recent visit to Brussels possible ways and means to further strengthening the bilateral relations including joint cooperation with European Union in development fields.
The OIC has deployed dedicated efforts to set the ground for an eventual and peaceful resolution to the political conflict between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), just as we have strived to build greater momentum to enhance coordination and unity of purpose between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front MILF for the sake of peace and development of the Bangsamoro people.
On the case of Muslims in Myanmar, a convention was held at the OIC General Secretariat last May with the participation of senior leaders representing many Rohingya Associations. The convention reached a consensual and milestone agreement to set up the “Arakan Rohingya Union” (ARU),
On the situation of Muslims in Southern Thailand, we do hope that the new Thai Government will make good progress on the pledges taken by its predecessor government to work out a fair and feasible political solution to the conflict in Southern Thailand in line with the communiqué I jointly signed with the Thai Foreign Minister back in 2007.
On a brighter note, I should highlight that our relations with both the People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Thailand have been recently tangibly fostered in the wake of highly successful visits that I undertook to both countries.
In a similar vein, we are pursuing our efforts to improve the conditions of Muslims in other parts of the world, notably in Greece and Bulgaria, with the objective of boosting our relations with these countries while shying away from any interference in their internal affairs.
In the area of economic cooperation, you are well aware of the progress made in the domain of trade financing and execution of our various poverty alleviation strategies. The implementation of our Executive Programme for Enhancing intra-OIC trade has brought out total financing package of US$ 36 billion through the respective activities of Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT) and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group.
It is in this regard I am glad to convey to this august gathering that the protocol on the Rules of Origin for the OIC Trade Preferential System entered into force after getting the required number of ratifications which signifies the beginning of new era of the creation of OIC trade preferential system for a strong OIC market of US$ 1.3 trillion.
In addition to scaling up of interventions under the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development and Special Programme for the Development of Africa, the issues of mobilizing resources for these programmes are high on the agenda of OIC General Secretariat. It is my sincere hope that the proposed mission of OIC Eminent Persons Group will receive your kind support.
Very soon, our Ministers of Agriculture will be considering a comprehensive Framework for OIC Member States which will represent the beginning of an action-oriented plan to foster agricultural growth, rural development and food security and achieve poverty alleviation and socio-economic empowerment.
Similarly, regional collaboration for increased intra-OIC economic cooperation has also been intensified with such organisations as African Union/NEPAD, WAEMU, BADEA, and ECO. This collaboration has been effective for the implementation of our projects on Dakar-Port Sudan Railway; the OIC Cotton Action Plan, and Cross Border Parks and Protected Areas in West Africa, to mention a few.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Islamophobia poses a clear danger to international efforts geared towards peace stability and security, in both the regional as well as the global context.
The OIC Islamophobia Observatory continues to monitor Islamophobic acts and events on a daily basis. The fourth report of the Observatory being released today catalogues and analyses events from June 2010 to May 2011 indicating a worrying trend of increase in Islamophobia reflected not only in the European context but an emerging upsurge across the Atlantic.
I must commend the efforts of the OIC Ambassadorial Groups in New York and Geneva towards sustaining support for the OIC sponsored resolution on defamation of religion. I presented– at the 15th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2010 – an eight point approach for action, at the national and the international levels, aimed at addressing this issue of utmost significance on a consensual basis. I am glad that this alternative approach found resonance with all negotiating partners including US and EU, and formed the basis of a new OIC sponsored resolution on “Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination Incitement to Violence, and Violence Against Persons Based on Religion and Belief” which was adopted by consensus at the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
OIC is on the verge of establishing an Independent Permanent Commission on Human Rights (IPCHR). We have been acting swiftly, through an open and credible process, in taking concrete steps toward establishing the IPCHR. The adoption of the Commissions statute followed by election of experts that would form the Commission must be seen as a landmark exercise that would make the Astana CFM stand out in the history of the OIC. It would enable us to launch the Commission and hold its first session later this year.
Women, children and youth are among the vulnerable sectors of our societies. Our efforts are accordingly focused on eliminating discrimination, violence and other injustices and protection of their rights. I urge the Member States to expedite the signing and ratification procedures to facilitate the operationalization of the statute of the Cairo based Center on Women Development.
Progress in science and technology is crucial for the socio-economic development of the Muslim world and for enabling the Member States to deal with the contemporary challenges of climate change, energy, food and water security and the threat of diseases and pandemics.
In higher education, health and environment, important ongoing OIC projects in these fields include the Atlas of Islamic World Science and Innovation, the Mega Project on Communication satellites, preparation of a document on “Key Performance Indicators for Universities in the Islamic World”, cooperative action involving international partners such as the WHO, Global Polio Eradication Initiative and Global Fund to fight diseases and epidemics, OIC-US mother and child health projects in Mali and Bangladesh and the preparation of OIC Water Vision.
In the domain of higher education we need to examine new initiatives for utilizing the existing institutions and platforms for promoting cultural exchange and sharing of knowledge and experience through more structured interaction.
In the area of humanitarian action, the General Secretariat has put in significant efforts in offering relief to the victims of the natural catastrophes that hit a number of our Member States and observers including, Palestine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Indonesia, Sudan, Somalia, Niger, Burkina Faso, the Comoro Islands, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Bosnia Herzegovina and Pakistan.
I am also honored to inform you that after years of deliberations at the level of senior officials, consensus was finally reached on the draft rules governing the Observer Status at the OIC and they are currently under review for adoption by this esteemed Council.
In implementation of the requisites of the TYPOA, I have the honour to inform you that the senior officials meeting preparatory to this esteemed council recommended for approval of the new logo and proposed name which reads “Organisation of Islamic Cooperation”. This name has the advantage of preserving of the Organisation acronym OIC. The new logo bears all the symbols of Islamic Ummah. I hope that both the new name and logo will get your valuable endorsement.
In conclusion, let me entertain the hope that the deliberations of this historic session of the CFM will not go down in the record as mere expectations and wishful thinking of expressions of good intention. That is not what we have gathered for. Let us translate the words into deeds, the intentions into meaningful actions and the premises into facts of history. Our organization derives its power from the devotion and support of its Member States and the entire Ummah. It can be an effective instrument of peace, stability and economic development to the extent its Members want it to be. So let us back it with all our force in unshakable conviction and genuine sincerity.
I thank you for your kind attention.