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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 


Posted in Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), OIC Human Rights News | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

OIC body told to engage civil groups

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 15, 2012

Rabby Pramudatama, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 02/22/2012

The newly-established human rights commission at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should work together with civil organizations in order to improve human rights protection, rights watchdogs have said.

To make the collaboration run smoothly, the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) needs to give civil society access to information about human rights issues.

“Based on my experience, state-level organizations’ credibility and accountability improves if they succeed in building constructive engagement with various civil society groups,” Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) executive director Rafendi Djamin said on Tuesday.

The OIC, an organization that attempts to be the collective voice of the Muslim world (Ummah), set up the IPHRC in June 2011, in Astana, Kazakhstan.

As a member, Indonesia has been appointed to hold the first meeting, which took place at a Central Jakarta hotel from Monday to Friday this week. Other elements of civil society expressed hopes that the IPHRC, as the new commission, was perceived as more progressive compared to other human rights bodies at the regional level.

The IPHRC recognized the role of civil society organizations in promoting and protecting human rights in Muslim countries as stated in Article 15 of its statute. National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) chairperson Yuniyanti Chuzaifah said it was crucial for the IPHRC to expand its mandate.

“The IPHRC should have the authority to monitor its member countries and the results should be verified with information provided by civil society,” she said.

Zannuba “Yenny” Wahid, the director of the Wahid Institute and also the daughter of Indonesia’s fourth president, the late Abdurrahman Wahid, highlighted the challenges that the IPHRC faced.

“The commission is facing a great challenge, because according to its statute it has no binding resolution,” she told The Jakarta Post.

The IPHRC’s statute article 12 stipulates, “The commission shall carry out consultative tasks for the council and submit recommendations to it. It shall also carry out other tasks as may be assigned to it by the summit or the council.”

Despite its lack of binding power, Yenny said that the commission was still making good progress in regard to its function as an official permanent body that could, at least, set standard recommendations on human rights issues.

She said that on a domestic level, Indonesia’s main problem on human rights issues was the government’s lack of political will, which she deemed as the source of almost all human rights violations occurring across the country.

Many deemed that the creation of the IPHRC was a major breakthrough in the Islamic world, because many Muslim countries were criticized for their incompatibilities with human rights norms.

On Monday, the first day of the IPHRC’s meeting, Indonesia’s representative to the commission, Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, was appointed as the chairperson of the commission among all 18 commissioners.

“I think the protection of religious minority groups is one of my missions in the IPHRC,” she told the Post.

She said that the issue had not become the commission’s agenda but she would highlight violence against religious minority groups to commission members.



Posted in CSO Participation, Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), Indonesia, OIC Human Rights News | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

OIC, Human Rights and Indonesia’s Role

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 15, 2012

The Jakarta Post, 24 Feb 2012 | Yuyun Wahyuningrum and Muhammad Hafiz

Jakarta is witnessing the historical moment of hosting the first meeting of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Feb. 20-24, 2012.

IPHRC was established during the 38th Ministerial Meeting of OIC in Astana, Kazakhstan in June last year with the adoption of resolution No. 2/38-LEG on “the Establishment of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission”.

In this meeting, foreign ministers of 57 countries selected 18 experts representing three regions: Asia, Africa and the Middle East to sit as commissioners in the IPHRC for three years. Experts representing Asia are Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin (Indonesia), Raihana Abdullah (Malaysia), Abdul Wahab (Pakistan) and Asila Wardak (Afghanistan).

During their five-day meeting in Jakarta, IPHRC would discuss household issues such as the secretariat of IPHRC, Rules of Procedures (ROP), structure of the Commission and elaboration of the Commission’s scope of work to include civil and political rights, the PalestineIsrael conflict, right to development, women and children’s rights, interfaith dialogue and the situation of Muslim minorities in the world.

As a new system, the Commission should also start discussing its strategic position among the existing human rights systems. As a matter of importance, IPHRC should not duplicate or compete with the other mechanisms.

Rather, it should complement, add values and strengthen each other’s mandates and roles in the respect, protect and fulfillment of human rights. IPHRC also should ensure involvement of the vulnerable and marginal groups in its deliberations.

OIC has been silent in global human rights debates since the adoption of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI) in 1991. The creation of the IPHRC was part of institutional reform in OIC and a landmark of paradigm shift in the Islamic world on human rights.

In 2005, the third Extraordinary Islamic Summit Conference adopted the Ten-year Program of Action (TYPA), which included the initiatives to institutionalize human rights in this Islamic political body.

In 2008, the new OIC included the creation of IPHRC in its new charter and adopted the Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women (OPAAW).

At the international level, OIC sponsors the formulation of the Resolution on Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief during the 16th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2011.

Now, OIC is at the half-way stage in implementing its institutional reform plan. To what extent OIC is loyal to the universal human rights principles remains a big question at the moment, and begs explanation and evidence. More importantly is to answer how this reform is relevant to its Ummah to meet challenges in the 21st century as TYPA envisions.

Spokesperson of OIC said that the establishment of the IPHRC should be part of the solution instead of the problem. IPHRC was created to act independently and function as an advisory committee of the OIC on human rights matters.

In fact, during the Civil Society’s Forum to the First Meeting of the IPHRC that was organized by a Coalition for IPHRC Advocacy on Feb. 9, 2012, in Jakarta, Indonesia’s civil society expressed concern that the Commission would be used to legitimate the reduction of the interpretation of universal human rights principles.

This concern may be valid as Article 15 of the Charter of OIC states that IPHRC “shall promote the civil, political, social and economic rights enshrined in the organization’s covenants and declarations and in universally agreed human rights instruments, in conformity with Islamic values”.

At the same time, IPHRC can be a strategic venue to seek an alternative solution when it comes to crossregional issues such as protection of the rights of migrant workers.

OIC consists of members coming from three regional human rights systems, namely the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR), ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the Arab League.

Middle East countries have been the primary destination of Indonesian migrant workers. There are about 1.5-1.7 million Indonesian migrant workers in the Middle East countries (Antara, Nov. 28, 2011).

Perhaps, the model of multiregional cooperation on upholding the rights of migrant workers is the answer to the complexity of the issue.

Indonesia’s membership in IPHRC enforces the leadership projection as the world’s third-largest democracy and as a moderate Muslim-majority country.

From 2005 on, Indonesia has been trying to convince the world that it is country is a place where democracy and human rights, Islam and modernity can go hand in hand.

Can Indonesia challenge OIC’S tradition position of being conservative Islam?

First, it is worth noting that economically, Indonesia’s bargaining power is inadequate to influence the decisions of the OIC. Logistically, Indonesia has no physical representation in the OIC headquarters in Saudi Arabia to deal specifically with OIC multi-lateral cooperation.

Second, there has been a relative neglect of Indonesia’s Islamic credentials. Apart from the fact that Indonesia never declares itself an Islamic country; its Islam is not the way it is supposed to be.

Being moderate Islam, Indonesia has the superior authority to inform OIC in its reform process, which brings the motto of “moderation and modernization”.

Democratic transition in Indonesia has changed the country from being the target of scrutiny for alleged human rights abuses to a more responsible international player.

This should give added values to OIC in promoting human rights.

OIC and IPHRC need to work hard to gain credibility from its members, the international community and the Muslim population around the world.

Selecting the host of IPHRC is an important and political aspect to show OIC’S genuine intentions on human rights. It is expected that Jakarta will be chosen over Jeddah and Tehran in the next Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in May 2012 in Djibouti.

The writers work for the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), a network of 50 organizations working on human rights in Indonesia for international human rights advocacy, based in Jakarta.

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