Ihsanoglu calls for an international warning system against instances of religious intolerance
Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on February 4, 2013
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), called for an effective international mechanism that could act as an early warning system against instances of discrimination and intolerance on religious grounds. He proposed an international Observatory, perhaps at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), with a broad mandate to monitor and document all instances of discrimination and intolerance on religious grounds.
The Secretary General was speaking at the high-level international meeting on 22 January 2013, in London, UK, upon the invitation of Baroness Saiyda Warsi, Senior Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to develop a common understanding on the way forward on the issue of intolerance on religious grounds.
The Secretary General pointed out that the OIC has an Observatory monitoring Islamophobia and the OSCE has a mechanism to monitor hate crimes, but what is needed is an international observatory with global coverage that would monitor intolerance and discrimination against all religions and their respective followers. He said that this would help develop an empirical basis to understand the extent of the problem, which in turn would figure into evolving an effective and concerted international response.
Ihsanoglu also called for building on the consensus that went into the UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 on combating intolerance on religious grounds and the Istanbul Process for implementing the resolution. He also pointed out that the recent meeting of eminent lawyers and human rights practitioners in Istanbul agreed that the provisions of existing legal instruments, including articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), suffice in covering OIC’s concerns, and that according equal weight to the concerns on both sides could form a good point of departure for developing a common understanding.
The London meeting comes after the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly last month, which adopted the resolution on combating religious intolerance for the second year in a row, and before the 22nd session of the HRC in February. The London meeting is the third in a series of meetings after Istanbul, the second was held in Washington DC. in December 2011. The Secretary General announced that the OIC will host the fourth meeting during the first half of this year.