Human Rights Defenders Call for Inclusion in OIC Human Rights Body
Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 14, 2011
Letter from Civil Society to the OIC
June 22, 2011—More than 230 civil society organizations in 24 different countries are calling on the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to ensure that the new human rights body it is establishing is transparent and preserves the right of civil society participation.
The Turkish human rights group MAZLUMDER on behalf of the signatories, all from member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), delivered a letter to OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu commending the establishment of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) as outlined in the OIC charter. The group urged the Secretary General to ensure space for civil society participation in the new commission and pushed the body to proactively protect human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights and the rights of Muslim and “non-Muslim minorities” in all 57 OIC member countries.
“We urge the OIC to ensure space for civil society participation in the Commission and follow a process that is consultative and inclusive of civil society at all levels,” reads the letter. “The below signed signatories are pleased to be partners in these efforts and offer assistance throughout the process of setting up and ensuring the effectiveness of this Commission.”
Civil society has long played a prominent role in the promotion of human rights at other multilateral fora, such as the UN, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Commission (EC). The OIC, however, lacks a clear and inclusive mechanism for NGO accreditation, and has long excluded civil society from its official business. The OIC has largely ignored human rights issues, and the draft statute for the IPHRC has not been made public.
Reports indicate that the OIC will adopt the draft statute of the IPHRC at the 38th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, held June 28-30, 2011. The closed meeting will elect a lead Commissioner of the body and 18 others to fulfill the IPHRC’s mandate. Each OIC country is allowed to submit one candidate for a commission position.
The signatories urge the OIC to include civil society participation at all levels of the Commission and to develop a formal accreditation process, noting that in many of their countries civil society has been struggling for the basic freedoms enshrined in the Charter of the OIC. The group welcomed the participation of humanitarian organizations at the 2008 Islamic Summit as a positive development, and urged the Secretary General and others to continue pushing for a more open and transparent OIC.