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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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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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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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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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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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Ihsanoglu Tasks Myanmar’s Government On Responsibility To Eradicate Discrimination Against Muslims

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


07/07/2013 |  The Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, tasked the Government of Myanmar to assume its responsibility to eradicate all forms of discrimination against Muslims and not allow Buddhist extremists to incite against any section of the community. He noted that this discrimination includes the 2005 law which imposes on all Rohingya Muslim families the policy limiting them to only two children in Buthidaung and Maundaw cities in Arakan State. He described this law a violation of all human rights standards. 

In his speech to the Arakan Rohingya Union Congress held at the OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah from 7 – 8 July 2013 and read on his behalf by the Director of Muslim Minorities in the OIC, Talal Daous, the Secretary General stated that the violence targeted at Rohingya Muslims last June led to killings and destruction of properties and created thousands of refugees and displaced persons. He asserted that this type of violence should not continue and that it is the responsibility of the authorities to address the root causes of the issue and protect peoples’ lives and properties in Myanmar. 

Ihsanoglu explained that the OIC continues to support and participate in all national, regional and international efforts and initiatives geared towards finding peaceful and lasting solution to the problems in Myanmar. It also supports the return of refugees and the restoration of the rights and privileges they have been denied by the authorities. In this regard, the Secretary General expressed its gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz who supported the Rohingya minorities, gave them a generous welcome and granted them the opportunity to live and work in Saudi Arabia. This year has already been marked by an important event of official issuance of residence permits to Rohingya refugees. 

Ihsanoglu remarked that today’s meeting is the second for the Union since it was inaugurated at the OIC General Secretariat on 30 May 2011. The Arakan Rohingya Union was established on the basis agreed upon principles o achieve peaceful coexistence, democracy and human rights. OIC Member States has supported the establishment of the Union in Resolution No. 4/38-MM adopted by the 38th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers held in Astana. 

The Secretary General stated that the Arakan Rohingya Union had in the last two years made tremendous progress considering the various challenges it faces and the dearth of resources. He stressed that the Arakan Rohingya Union plays its role as the legitimate representative of the Rohingya people across the world, defends their cause and improves their conditions in Myanmar, and helps to find a lasting solution to their suffering.

Source: OIC

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OIC conference on Rohingyas in Jeddah next week

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 5, 2013


Arab News, Friday 5 July 2013 | The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will hold on July 7 and 8 the Arakan Rohingya Union Conference at its headquarters in Jeddah.

The charter of the Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU) will be submitted to the members for discussion in preparation for its adoption.

The agenda of the conference will also include introduction of the current and new members of the union, which was established by the OIC in May 2011 to unite the Rohingya refugees around the world.

Waqarudin, director general of the first session of the union, will present his report on ARU’s achievements. The conference will look into the strategy and action plan of the union in the next session, in addition to electing officials and the formation of the Supreme Council, the committees and advisory board.

In a letter sent through his special envoy, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told Myanmar President Thein Sein that the organization, on behalf of the 57 heads of the member states, is ready to assist in reaching a long-term solution to problems of Muslims in Myanmar.

Special envoy Talal Daous, director of minorities department at the OIC, accompanied by Hassan Abdin, delivered the letter last week.

In the letter, the secretary-general said the OIC is ready to assist in any way to reach a long-term solution for the existing and emerging problems of all Muslims in Myanmar, who deserve nothing less than the basic rights accorded to any citizen of Myanmar, including access to urgent humanitarian assistance.

The special envoy delivered the letter to Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and during the meeting discussions focused on the importance of the secretary-general’s visit to Myanmar and the Contact Group on Myanmar.

“We believe that a long-term solution to the problems of the Rohingya Muslims can only be found through the restoration of their legal status and the recognition of their birth right, including citizenship,” said Ihsanoglu.

He said the targeting of Muslims in central Myanmar during the last week of March and last week of April has been a particularly worrying development for the reason that unlike the Rohingya Muslims, the recent events involved Muslims who are integrated in the Myanmarese society with full citizenship rights in areas outside the Rakhine region.

“We are concerned that what was once considered as a case of inter-communal violence confined to one part of Myanmar now has the danger of spreading throughout the country,” Ihsanoglu said.

The OIC chief said that with the cooperation of the authorities in Myanmar, OIC member states would be willing to establish a collaborative mechanism with Myanmar to provide economic and humanitarian assistance to all those in need, confidence building between communities, interfaith dialogue and technical expertise to assist Myanmar in its democratic transition and integration into the international community.

Source: Arab News

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OIC To Host 3rd Meeting On “Religious Hatred” In Geneva

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on June 19, 2013


KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 (Bernama) — The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will host the third meeting of international experts on the implementation of the UN Human Rights Council resolution on combating intolerance and incitement to hatred on religious ground from June 19-21.

The meeting, to be held in Geneva, Swtitzerland, is expected to focus on concrete steps in implementing some of the measures under the UN Resolution 16/18, which focuses on “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatisation of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion and belief.”

The experts will discuss issues like ‘Speaking out against intolerance, including advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence’ and ‘Adopting measures to criminalise incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief as stated under the UN Resolution, the OIC said in a statement.

One other point for discussion is ‘Recognising that the open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue at the local, national and international levels, can play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence,’ it added.

OIC secretary-general, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who will be attending the three-day meeting, said that developing a better understanding among the international community on the issues and devising a suitable plan was significant.

The first meeting was held in Washington D.C. in December 2011 while the second one was held at Wilton Park in London a year later, the statement said.

The UN HRC Resolution 16/18 is within the framework of the Istanbul Process launched by the OIC secretary-general and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July 2011.

Source: Bernama News

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OIC Secretary General traveling today to Geneva for meeting on combating religious intolerance

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on June 19, 2013


Date: 18/06/2013

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has left today, 18 June 2013 to Geneva, Switzerland to participate tomorrow, 19 June, in the third meeting of international experts on the implementation of UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 on combating intolerance and incitement to hatred on religious grounds.
The OIC is hosting this three-day meeting, which is being held in the framework of the Istanbul Process launched by the OIC Secretary General and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July 2011.
The two expert events in the framework of the Istanbul Process were held earlier in Washington D.C., in December 2011 and in London in December 2012. The third meeting in Geneva will discuss concrete steps in implementing point 5, 6 and 8 of Resolution 16/18, namely, “Speaking out against intolerance, including advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”; “Adopting measures to criminalize incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief”; and “Recognizing that the open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue at the local, national and international levels, can play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence”.

Source: http://www.oic-oci.org/topic_detail.asp?t_id=8187

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OIC Secretary General sends letter to President Obama on his re-election

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on February 4, 2013


OIC Secretary General sends letter to President Obama on his re-election: Peace in the Middle East, socio-economic development and combating religious intolerance are priority for US-OIC collaboration 

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, sent a letter to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, on the occasion of his re-election. In it, Ihsanoglu recalls the great strides of US-OIC collaboration on a range of issues during the past four years of Obama’s administration including health, humanitarian aid and women’s empowerment in the Muslim world and that he looks forward to furthering the cooperation in key areas of mutual interest and concern in the upcoming four years. He underlined that peace in the Middle East, socio-economic development and combating religious intolerance are priority areas for the OIC.

The letter was handed to President Obama’s Special Envoy to the OIC, Rashad Hussein, during the visit of Hussein to OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah today, 23 January 2013. The Secretary General stated in his letter to President Obama that his reelection is testimony to the trust placed in his dynamic leadership by the American people and could be viewed as a vote of confidence in his policies signifying ‘change’ with particular reference to the policy of engagement with the Muslim world. He pointed out that OIC, being essentially a political organization operating along the principles of moderation and modernization, aims at sustaining a policy of engagement and not confrontation.

Ihsanoglu stressed that the Palestinian issue remains at the heart of the most pressing concerns to the OIC and the international community, which requires firm commitment by the US, and that the status quo of political stalemate and continuation of Israeli occupation and settlement policies in the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem are neither acceptable nor viable. Ihsanoglu stated that upgrading the status of Palestine to non-member observer state at the UN General Assembly last November is a golden opportunity that should not be lost and urged Obama to accelerate the realization of peace and stability.

Ihsanoglu referred to Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in 2009, which he attended, calling it visionary and a positive statement with far reaching implications that raised expectations for a common future anchored in mutual respect and understanding. In this context, Ihsanoglu mentioned that OIC will continue to combat extremism, terrorism, intolerance and incitement to hatred and violence on religious grounds. The consensual passage of UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 on combating religious intolerance, which codified the eight points identified in his address to the 15th Session of the Human Rights Council, has been widely acknowledged as a positive development and a triumph of multilateralism, Ihsanoglu added. It must also be seen as a poster child of OIC-US cooperation, he said, pointing out to the Istanbul Process that he initiated with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to build on the consensus achieved.

The Secretary General also highlighted the issue of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar in his letter. While he acknowledged Obama’s efforts to bring the issue of the Rohingya Muslim community to the attention of the national authorities during his recent visit to the country, he urged Obama to support protect the human rights of the Rohingya ethnic minority and to restore their citizenship.

OIC Newsletter Issue Number 4
23/01/2013

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Egypt: Preparations Finalized for Hosting OIC Summit

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


All Africa, 31 JANUARY 2013 | Egypt has finalized preparations to host the 12th Islamic Summit, due to be held on February 6-7, announced Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for Non-Aligned Affairs and Islamic Cooperation Ambassador Amr Ramadan.

During his meeting with reporters on Wednesday 31/1/2013, Ramadan said 26 Heads of State, who are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), have confirmed that they would attend the summit.

About 46 OIC member States said they will attend the summit, he stressed, brushing aside allegations about the possibility of putting off the summit or changing its venue.

The summit and its preparatory ministerial meeting will be held in Cairo’s hotels, Ramadan said.

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201301311280.html?aa_source=nwsltr-religion-en

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OIC Secretary General sends letter to President Obama on his re-election: Peace in the Middle East, socio-economic development and combating religious intolerance are priority for US-OIC collaboration

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


OIC Newsletter Issue Number 4

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, sent a letter to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, on the occasion of his re-election. In it, Ihsanoglu recalls the great strides of US-OIC collaboration on a range of issues during the past four years of Obama’s administration including health, humanitarian aid and women’s empowerment in the Muslim world and that he looks forward to furthering the cooperation in key areas of mutual interest and concern in the upcoming four years. He underlined that peace in the Middle East, socio-economic development and combating religious intolerance are priority areas for the OIC.

The letter was handed to President Obama’s Special Envoy to the OIC, Rashad Hussein, during the visit of Hussein to OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah today, 23 January 2013. The Secretary General stated in his letter to President Obama that his reelection is testimony to the trust placed in his dynamic leadership by the American people and could be viewed as a vote of confidence in his policies signifying ‘change’ with particular reference to the policy of engagement with the Muslim world. He pointed out that OIC, being essentially a political organization operating along the principles of moderation and modernization, aims at sustaining a policy of engagement and not confrontation.

Ihsanoglu stressed that the Palestinian issue remains at the heart of the most pressing concerns to the OIC and the international community, which requires firm commitment by the US, and that the status quo of political stalemate and continuation of Israeli occupation and settlement policies in the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem are neither acceptable nor viable. Ihsanoglu stated that upgrading the status of Palestine to non-member observer state at the UN General Assembly last November is a golden opportunity that should not be lost and urged Obama to accelerate the realization of peace and stability.

Ihsanoglu referred to Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in 2009, which he attended, calling it visionary and a positive statement with far reaching implications that raised expectations for a common future anchored in mutual respect and understanding. In this context, Ihsanoglu mentioned that OIC will continue to combat extremism, terrorism, intolerance and incitement to hatred and violence on religious grounds. The consensual passage of UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 on combating religious intolerance, which codified the eight points identified in his address to the 15th Session of the Human Rights Council, has been widely acknowledged as a positive development and a triumph of multilateralism, Ihsanoglu added. It must also be seen as a poster child of OIC-US cooperation, he said, pointing out to the Istanbul Process that he initiated with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to build on the consensus achieved.

The Secretary General also highlighted the issue of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar in his letter. While he acknowledged Obama’s efforts to bring the issue of the Rohingya Muslim community to the attention of the national authorities during his recent visit to the country, he urged Obama to support protect the human rights of the Rohingya ethnic minority and to restore their citizenship.

Ihsanoglu calls for an international warning system against instances of religious intolerance
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.

Source:http://www.oic-oci.org/newsletter.asp

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OIC Secretary General sends letter to President Obama on his re-election: Peace in the Middle East, socio-economic development and combating religious intolerance are priority for US-OIC collaboration

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


23/01/2013 | The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, sent a letter to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, on the occasion of his re-election. In it, Ihsanoglu recalls the great strides of US-OIC collaboration on a range of issues during the past four years of Obama’s administration including health, humanitarian aid and women’s empowerment in the Muslim world and that he looks forward to furthering the cooperation in key areas of mutual interest and concern in the upcoming four years. He underlined that peace in the Middle East, socio-economic development and combating religious intolerance are priority areas for the OIC. 

The letter was handed to President Obama’s Special Envoy to the OIC, Rashad Hussein, during the visit of Hussein to OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah today, 23 January 2013. The Secretary General stated in his letter to President Obama that his reelection is testimony to the trust placed in his dynamic leadership by the American people and could be viewed as a vote of confidence in his policies signifying ‘change’ with particular reference to the policy of engagement with the Muslim world. He pointed out that OIC, being essentially a political organization operating along the principles of moderation and modernization, aims at sustaining a policy of engagement and not confrontation. 

Ihsanoglu stressed that the Palestinian issue remains at the heart of the most pressing concerns to the OIC and the international community, which requires firm commitment by the US, and that the status quo of political stalemate and continuation of Israeli occupation and settlement policies in the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem are neither acceptable nor viable. Ihsanoglu stated that upgrading the status of Palestine to non-member observer state at the UN General Assembly last November is a golden opportunity that should not be lost and urged Obama to accelerate the realization of peace and stability. 

Ihsanoglu referred to Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in 2009, which he attended, calling it visionary and a positive statement with far reaching implications that raised expectations for a common future anchored in mutual respect and understanding. In this context, Ihsanoglu mentioned that OIC will continue to combat extremism, terrorism, intolerance and incitement to hatred and violence on religious grounds. The consensual passage of UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 on combating religious intolerance, which codified the eight points identified in his address to the 15th Session of the Human Rights Council, has been widely acknowledged as a positive development and a triumph of multilateralism, Ihsanoglu added. It must also be seen as a poster child of OIC-US cooperation, he said, pointing out to the Istanbul Process that he initiated with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to build on the consensus achieved. 

The Secretary General also highlighted the issue of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar in his letter. While he acknowledged Obama’s efforts to bring the issue of the Rohingya Muslim community to the attention of the national authorities during his recent visit to the country, he urged Obama to support protect the human rights of the Rohingya ethnic minority and to restore their citizenship.

Source: http://www.oic-oci.org/topic_detail.asp?t_id=7658

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Panel of legal experts prepares the groundwork for a political OIC strategy on religious intolerance against Muslims

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on January 23, 2013


OIC Newsletter Issue Number 2 | 10/01/2013

A panel of legal and human rights experts prepared the groundwork for the political strategy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to tackle religious intolerance against Muslims and the growing incidents of Islam bashing. The two-day meeting held in Istanbul of the Panel of Eminent Persons on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims expanded on a working paper drafted by the OIC General Secretariat for a politically tenable strategy that is anchored firmly in international law.

With the increasing trend of Islamophobia, such as the reprehensible episodes of burning of copies of the Holy Qur’an by a Pastor, the Utoya massacre in Norway, and most recently the release of the trailer of ‘The Innocence of Muslims’ on YouTube, in addition to indications of institutionalization and constitutionalization of Islamophobia, there is mounting public pressure on OIC Member States to draw a line and take concrete action, according to OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

“The OIC strategy must be proportionate to expectations of the Muslim World – being their political voice. It must be substantive and credible to shift the initiative away from the street to the table of meaningful and result oriented multilateral discourse,” said Ihsanoglu in his opening remarks to the meeting on January 7, 2013. “We must emphasize that there is no hierarchy of human rights whereby a single right can trump others. OIC believes that the relevant provisions of international law on freedom of opinion and expression support our position. If so, it must clearly be brought out with cogent legal arguments. Or we should look for other legally tenable options to engage the negotiating partners in a result-oriented fashion,” he added.

As mandated by the 39th Council of Foreign Ministers held in Djibouti last November, the significance of the Panel lies in furnishing a set of available options, in terms of legal merits and demerits, on combating discrimination and intolerance against Muslims. A legal opinion is formed based on purely technical analysis. The output of the Panel’s work will be presented to the OIC leadership at the forthcoming 12th OIC Summit in Cairo on 2-7 February 2013, which is expected to take a political decision on an OIC approach to dealing with this issue.

The deliberations of the Panel will also be useful during the high-level meeting at Wilton Park in the UK on 22 January 2013, which is part of the Istanbul Process launched by the Secretary General to implement UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 on combating religious intolerance. In that context, the Panel addressed the issue of criminalization of incitement to imminent violence and accorded it a special focus. Furthermore, the work of the Panel could contribute significantly towards the ongoing international discourse on combating intolerance and discrimination on religious grounds.

Source: http://www.oic-oci.org/newsletter.asp

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Ihsanoglu traveling to London for a high-level meeting on combating religious intolerance

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on January 23, 2013


22/01/2013 | Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, is traveling today, Monday, 21 January 2013, to London, UK for a high-level meeting to develop a common understanding and way forward for combating intolerance and discrimination on religious basis. The Secretary General was invited by Baroness Saiyda Warsi, Senior Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to join a core group of influential government ministers and policy makers. Representatives from several countries including the UK, USA, Canada, Italy, Germany, Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey are expected to participate. 

The focus of the meeting will be on retaining and furthering international consensus reflected in the approach signified by Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 towards combating intolerance, discrimination and incitement to violence and violence based on religious grounds. Resolution 16/18 was an OIC initiative that was adopted by consensus at the 16th Session of the HRC in Geneva in 2011 based on the eight points presented by the Secretary General. Ihsanoglu also launched the Istanbul Process in July 2011 with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the participation of Lady Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to implement resolution 16/18. 

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 OIC is expected to announce hosting the fourth meeting during the first half of this year.

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