The OIC Human Rights

Human Rights in Islamic Countries

Posts Tagged ‘OIC’

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


Posted in OIC Human Rights News, Women Rights on OIC | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

OSCE Vienna 2013 – Repudiate the Cairo Declaration

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 22, 2013

Published on Saturday, 20 July 2013

This is the seventh in a series of posts on this week’s OSCE “Supplementary Human Dimension” meeting in Vienna. More will be coming in the next few days. See the reference to a list of links at the bottom of this post for previous articles.

The following paper (official pdf version) was filed at today’s OSCE meeting in Vienna by International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA). It calls for the repudiation of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam as having no relevance to what Western nations or the OSCE identify as human rights.

Note: The abbreviation “pS” in the text below is short for “participating State(s)”

OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting

Rule of Law in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

Vienna, July 12th 2013

Session II: Effective National and International Instruments to protect human rights and prevent human rights violations: Best practices, current challenges and solutions

In reference to the excellent discussion of the universality of human rights, ICLA wants to draw attention to a deficiency in this field that can easily and usefully be corrected.

Before we can discuss effective national and international human rights, we need to define the terms unambiguously.

As most here would know, we have two main definitions of human rights, the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the European Human Rights Convention, both sound human rights instruments.

However, a third and potentially dangerous alternative definition exists, sponsored by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), namely the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. This declaration, originally drafted by the Iranian theocratic regime, makes each and every right subject to Islamic law, also known as Sharia. This, in turn, negates the very notion of inalienable individual rights and several other essential values.

The Cairo Declaration is recognized as a so-called “regional instrument” by the United Nations, but rarely, if ever, used or referred to. It is thus functionally redundant, yet its approval creates an unneeded and potentially dangerous ambiguity in the formal definition of the human rights. For Sharia is incompatible with democracy and fundamental human rights, as stated in 2003 by the European Court of Human Rights, and thus the Cairo Declaration is equally incompatible with any meaningful definition of human rights, as well as with several OSCE commitments.

Thus, to avoid willful misinterpretations of what “human rights” refer to, it would be good for the protection of human rights defenders to have the Cairo Declaration explicitly repudiated by those OSCE pS that also hold membership of the OIC. If they do not do so, they should provide a detailed justification for keeping this declaration on the books, and the intended use of it.

ICLA thus recommends that:

  • OSCE makes a statement that the Cairo Declaration has no relevance to its understanding of human rights.
  • OSCE pS that are also members of OIC explicitly repudiate the Cairo Declaration as being of no relevance, now or in the future, for the interpretation of “human rights”.

Source: Right Side News

Posted in Human Rights and Islam | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Malala’s Lessons for the Muslim World

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 11, 2013

by Amb. Ufuk Gokcen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, United Nations

In 2009, Malala Yousafzai, a seventh grade student in the Swat district of Pakistan, made headlines around the world for exposing the inequities that young girls faced under the Taliban in her hometown of Mingora. She has become a symbol of peace through her continued advocacy for education of girls in her region and has been recognized by governments around the world for her important advocacy.

On Oct. 9, 2012, gunmen stopped a bus taking students home from school, asked for Malala Yousafzai by name, and shot her in the head.

In phone interviews following the attack, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban cited her role as an “advocate for the West” as the reason for her targeting and vowed to target her again if she survived.

The Pakistani Taliban is now resorting to other deplorable methods of intimidation by throwing acid on the faces of girls who seek education. The Taliban in Afghanistan has used the same scare tactics.

As the world reels in the face of such senseless brutality, it is easy to generalize the underlying ignorance and intolerance that motivated this attack to the rest of the Muslim world. The perceived rejection of “Western” values by this group of extremists can leave the impression that we are seeing the beginning of a new kind of despotism threatening the rights and lives of anyone who stands up for these values.

The OIC General Secretariat, the newly established OIC Independent and Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), and around 50 Pakistani Ulema were among those condemning the cowardly act of shooting Malala as un-Islamic. However, at the grass roots level, civil society institutions of the OIC member countries, including women and youth, NGOs and clergy, should be more pro-active and vocal.

The small group of extremists, in contrast to 1.5 billion mainstream Muslims, can not represent any Islamic tradition. However, there is a danger. If not challenged, these inhuman terror methods could be emulated elsewhere, such as West Africa and Sahel.

Saudi commentator Tariq Maeena underlined in his op-ed published by the Gulf News that what was indeed disturbing was the absence of forceful rejection by established Islamic religious institutions and figures of such twisted practices and values. Is it possible not to agree? It is high time that ignorant and twisted minds hijacking and misinterpreting the Islamic values are confronted and challenged forcefully by the highest religious authorities.

At the intergovernmental level, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has taken the lead to improve the rights and opportunities of women within its member states. One of the central tenets of the OIC’s Ten-Year Programme of Action is the advancement of women’s rights.

Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the OIC, reinforced the importance of equality and opportunity for women saying, “Women are an important segment of our societies … Their advancement in all the areas is therefore imperative to achieve sustainable and balanced development, and to bring progress and prosperity in society.”

The OIC’s work on behalf women’s rights have included the formation of the OIC Department of Family Affairs which addresses the issues of women, youth, and children and the creation of an Islamic Network of Women Scientists which encourages a greater involvement of women in both scientific and technological fields. The OIC has also partnered with the United States Departments of State and Health as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, civil society, and other international organizations to reduce the mortality rate of women during childbirth and to ensure children’s health during the first month of their life.

Additionally, the OIC made the historic decision to establish the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) in June 2011. Not only does the mission of the IPHRC encourage the placement of women on the Commission, but it has made the rights of women and children its top priority. The 18 member Commission is currently chaired by a woman, Dr. Siti Ruhuaini Dzuhayatin, who is an distinguished lecturer of sociology from Indonesia and helped set up the first women crisis centre in her country. Meanwhile, women even in the most criticized OIC member countries are making historic progress, though in a gradual manner; and others in some member states are holding tight to not lose their rights and acquired standings in the transition to democracy. One common aspect in all these countries is that women are determined to have a stronger say in how their societies and countries are ruled, and they don’t want to go back.

As the OIC focal point in the US-OIC engagement, one of my most pleasant duties was to co-sponsor a symposium in June 2011 with the US Department of State entitled, “Changing Mindsets to Promote Women and Girls in Science.” While the United Nations recently marked the first International Day of the Girl Child, it is the duty of all of us to do more to enable millions of bright minds like Malala to have better prospects and bring down the false obstacles in front of women erected in the name of traditions or the misinterpretation or manipulation of religious teachings.

Source: Huffington Post

Posted in Human Rights and Islam, Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), Pakistan | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted in News about OIC Human Rights | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted in News about OIC Human Rights | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted in News about OIC Human Rights | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted in International Human Rights, News about OIC Human Rights | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Report of Istanbul Process: Implementation of UN HRC Relustion 16/18

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

Report of the United States on the First Meeting of Experts to Promote Implementation of United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18

December 2011

Executive Summary

At the invitation of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, representatives of 26 governments and  four international organizations met in Washington, D.C. on December 12-14, 2011 to discuss the implementation of United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution (UNHRC) 16/18 on  “Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination,  Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief.”  In her  closing remarks, Secretary Clinton stressed, ―The United States is hosting this conference because religious freedom and freedom of expression are among our highest values.  They are enshrined in our Constitution.  For people everywhere, faith and religious practice is a central  source of our identity.  It provides our lives with meaning and context.  It is fundamental to who we are.‖

The implementation meeting focused on two elements of the steps set forth in Resolution 16/18:  1) prohibiting discrimination based on religion or belief and 2) training government officials, including on how to implement effective outreach to religious communities.  Participants agreed that their task was to keep the discussion focused on implementing the specific steps called for in  Resolution 16/18, rather than broadening the dialogue to other possible measures not included in the resolution.

Presenters and participants in the interactive sessions were law enforcement and antidiscrimination experts.  

Presenters included experts from invited countries and international organizations,  as well as personnel from the United States Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.

Discussions were held under ―Chatham House Rule‖ in order to promote a free and candid exchange of views.  Accordingly, while this report reflects accurately the points made and best practices described by all participants, approval was sought before attributing specific remarks to  particular participants.

The sessions produced a rich exchange of best practices, which are set forth in the body of this report.  Key conclusions for policy makers include the following:


  1. Participating countries already have in place legal prohibitions of discrimination and violence based on religion or belief.  While the nature of these prohibitions vary – some  are contained in national constitutions, others in domestic laws, and still others in international instruments that have the same importance in the relevant countries as domestic law – there does not appear to be a fundamental gap in the domestic legal framework of the majority of participant countries.
  2. Many countries have specialized units in their justice ministries or prosecutor general’s offices which have proven effective in imposing civil, and at times criminal, penalties against those found to have engaged in violence or discrimination on the basis of religion or belief in employment, the provision of public services, or in access to public accommodations such as hotels and restaurants.  Others rely on regular pr osecutors to enforce these laws.  Civil enforcement of anti-discrimination laws has proven to be the most effective and is most widely used.  Strong public outreach is a key factor in all systems.  Effective outreach not only ensures that the population knows authorities are  willing and able to take on religious discrimination cases, but also teaches citizens how to call such cases to the attention of authorities.
  3. There is a wide variation in training for government officials.  Some countries have specialized programs focused on training officials to consider religious sensitivities when formulating and implementing policies and practices; others have no specific training in  this area.
  4. The disparity in training is reflected in wide variations in the systematization of outreach  to religious communities.  Some countries have highly structured outreach systems.  These systems ensure that communities are aware of potential or actual changes in policy that may affect them, the rationale behind such policies, and the opportunity that communities have to shape such policies through their input.  Other countries do not have a systematic way of conducting such outreach, but many have developed creative and effective ad hoc methods for such engagement.
  5. Effective national security policy and protection of human rights are mutually reinforcing.  Law enforcement needs the cooperation of religious and other communities to fight violent extremism.  Communities will not cooperate if they perceive that their members are being discriminated against or that their members’ beliefs are not being respected by the authorities.  Extremists can use such perceptions to further their own ends.  Profiling based on religion or ethnicity not only violates human rights, but also provides a false sense of security and allows actual terrorists to proceed undetected. 

Please click HERE to complete report.

Posted in OIC Meeting | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Opening remarks by His Excellency the Secretary General during the High Level meeting on intolerance

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


(London – January 22, 2013) 

Baroness Warsi, 
Hon’ble Ministers, 
Dear colleagues, 

Let me begin by thanking you Madam for taking the commendable initiative to organize this high level meeting. I also acknowledge the presence of Ministers and other colleagues who responded to your kind invitation. In addition to making the most of the traditional British hospitality, we are all gathered here to address an issue of utmost contemporary significance. We must aim at developing a common understanding on the way forward. I will briefly share some ideas in this regard. 

Combating discrimination and intolerance forms a most daunting challenge of our times. It constitutes a matter of vital concern at the OIC. The increasing trend of Islamophobia is indeed ominous in a globalized world. There has been an alarming increase in intolerance and discrimination against Muslims. The fifth report of OIC Islamophobia Observatory reveals an alarming upsurge. It has been a period punctuated by utterly reprehensible episodes including – burning of the holy Quran – the Utoya massacre in Norway – and most recently the release of the trailer of ‘innocence of Muslims’. In confirming our worst fears, increasing frequency of such events and their aftermath vindicated OIC’s warnings of serious repercussions. The long term implications go beyond these repercussions. 

During the last five years, a succession of unfortunate steps taken even by some governments in the West – indicating institutionalization and constitutionalization of Islamophobia – are disturbing. Most disconcerting is the emerging pattern of its abuse as an instrument of local, regional and international politics – documented by our Observatory over the last five years. Religion has come to play an increasingly important role in the calculus of international relations. The situation is likely to exacerbate in the wake of the current economic recession. It must accordingly figure in our strategic calculations. Tensions must not be allowed to simmer but addressed through concerted action. They could jeopardize peaceful coexistence in an interdependent and interconnected world. 

Gatherings like the one today are, therefore, increasingly important. In a world faced with the menace of terrorism, incitement to hatred, discrimination, and violence, cannot and must not be ignored. We would, otherwise, be faced with the unaffordable risk of the agenda hijacked and set by radicals and non-state actors. We need to act to wrest the initiative away from the street to the table of meaningful and result oriented multilateral discourse. 

Dear colleagues, 

The consensual passage of HRC resolution 16/18 has been widely acknowledged as a positive development. The Resolution forms a triumph of multilateralism must also be seen as a poster child of OIC-US-EU cooperation. It demonstrated OIC’s ability to forge consensus on a most sensitive of issues in contemporary international relations. The resolution codified the eight points identified in my address to the 15th Session of the Human Rights Council. These points constitute areas of action at the national and the international levels. I am gratified that they could form the basis of consensus. It afforded the opportunity to focus on the real issues away from the politicization and polarization of a decade. 

We did not stop at mere passage of a resolution. The Istanbul Process initiated with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to build further on the consensus building that went into resolution 16/18 must be carried forward. Our meeting today is a part of this Process. I appreciate that it has come to be recognized as the way forward by all stakeholders. Its merit lies in acceptance as the least common denominator. This approach carries a lot of potential in terms of evolving an international consensus to deal with the matter while addressing genuine concerns of all parties. The real test, however, lies in implementation. The consensus would, otherwise, be fragile. The approach signified by the resolution 16/18 is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. We need to build on it. 
It must be appreciated that there is mounting public pressure on OIC Member States to take concrete action. A recently held panel of eminent lawyers and human rights practitioners – at the OIC – endorsed the 16/18 approach and the Istanbul Process as the avenues for engagement. It was agreed that there is no need to move towards an entirely new instrument. The provisions of existing instruments, including articles 19 and 20 of ICCPR, suffice in covering OIC’s concerns. It is the voids or gaps in interpretation, implementation and information that need to be plugged. There are differences that must be ironed out to develop a common understanding. I believe according equal weight to the concerns on both sides could form a good point of departure. 
Within the framework of the Istanbul Process, we must continue to address interrelated issues. Grey areas need to be squarely addressed in search of durable and consensual solutions. The two Istanbul Process events in Washington and London have addressed important areas with regard to the eight points. The Process must be carried forward. I take this opportunity to inform that OIC will be hosting the next event in the Istanbul Process. We look forward to sustaining a candid and frank exchange of views on each of the eight areas of action. This engagement would help us build on the consensus signified by the Resolution 16/18.The text has evolved as reflected by the latest UNGA resolution 67/178.It must continue to evolve on a consensual basis. 

Let me conclude by drawing attention to the need for an effective international mechanism that could act as an early warning system. I understand that the idea of an international observatory at the OHCHR in Geneva enjoyed support at the Winton Park event last month. OIC has its own Observatory with a mandate limited to monitoring Islamophobia. I understand that another mechanism to monitor hate crimes is in place at the OSCE. It also has a limited mandate. We need an Observatory at the international level with the broad mandate to monitor and document all instances of discrimination and intolerance on religious grounds. It must have a global coverage. It would monitor intolerance and discrimination against all religions and their respective followers. This would help us develop an empirical basis to understand the extent of the problem. That, in turn, would figure into evolving an effective and concerted international response to this matter of vital concern. OIC has been supportive of such an Observatory. In fact I indicated this support in the same statement at the Human Rights Council in September 2010 where the eight points were mentioned. I am reiterating this idea hoping that an agreement, in principle, can be reached at this meeting. It would form at least one concrete outcome of this important gathering. 

I conclude my remarks and would be listening carefully to all the interventions. 

I thank you Baroness. 
I thank you all.


Posted in Freedom of Religion, Human Rights and Islam | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 28, 2012

​Date: 24/03/2012
The Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, has welcomed the resolutions of the Human Rights Council, particularly the aspect on the Palestinian question and the decision to set up an independent international fact-finding mission on the implications of the Israeli settlements for the political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people on the entire occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. He described the resolutions as an important achievement towards the international community assuming its responsibilities by putting an end to Israeli illegal occupation and settlement on occupied Palestinian territories.

​The Secretary General commended the role of the Islamic Group which worked for the presentation and support of these important resolutions. He praised the stances of other regional groups and states that supported the resolutions on the Palestinian question. Meanwhile he stressed the need to investigate Israeli crimes and violations and their effects on the rights of the Palestinian people.

Posted in About OIC | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

UN HRC Resolution: Combating intolerance, incitement to violence and violence against based on religion/belief

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 22, 2012

Human Rights Council

Nineteenth session (Agenda item 9)

Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related form of intolerance, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

19/…      Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief

The Human Rights Council,

       Reaffirming the commitment made by all States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote and encourage universal respect for and observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to, inter alia, religion or belief,

       Reaffirming also Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 of 24 March 2011 and General Assembly resolution 66/167 of 19 December 2011,

       Welcoming the panel discussion on strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs, held during the seventeenth session of the Human Rights Council pursuant to paragraph 9 of resolution 16/18,

       Reaffirming the obligation of States to prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion or belief and to implement measures to guarantee the equal and effective protection of the law,

       Reaffirming also that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides, inter alia, that everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, which shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching,

       Reaffirming further the positive role that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance,

       Deeply concerned about incidents of intolerance, discrimination and violence against persons based on their religion or belief in all regions of the world,

       Deploring any advocacy of discrimination or violence on the basis of religion or belief,

       Strongly deploring all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, as well as any such acts directed against their homes, businesses, properties, schools, cultural centres or places of worship,

       Concerned about actions that wilfully exploit tensions or target individuals on the basis of their religion or belief,

       Noting with deep concern the instances of intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence in many parts of the world, including cases motivated by discrimination against persons belonging to religious minorities, in addition to the negative projection of the followers of religions and the enforcement of measures that specifically discriminate against persons on the basis of religion or belief,

       Recognizing the valuable contribution of people of all religions or beliefs to humanity and the contribution that dialogue among religious groups can make towards an improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind,

       Recognizing also that working together to enhance implementation of existing legal regimes that protect individuals against discrimination and hate crimes, increase interfaith and intercultural efforts, and to expand human rights education are important first steps in combating incidents of intolerance, discrimination and violence against individuals on the basis of religion or belief,

       1.             Expresses deep concern at the continued serious instances of derogatory stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief, as well as programmes and agendas pursued by extremist organizations and groups aimed at creating and perpetuating negative stereotypes about religious groups, in particular when condoned by Governments;

       2.             Expresses its concern that incidents of religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as of negative stereotyping of individuals on the basis of religion or belief, continue to rise around the world, and condemns, in this context, any advocacy of religious hatred against individuals that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, and urges States to take effective measures, as set forth in the present resolution, consistent with their obligations under international human rights law, to address and combat such incidents;

       3.             Condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means;

       4.             Recognizes that the open public debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue, at the local, national and international levels can be among the best protections against religious intolerance and can play a positive role in strengthening democracy and combating religious hatred, and convinced that a continuing dialogue on these issues can help overcome existing misperceptions;

       5.             Notes the speech given by Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference at the fifteenth session of the Human Rights Council, and draws on his call on States to take the following actions to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect, by:

       (a)           Encouraging the creation of collaborative networks to build mutual understanding, promoting dialogue and inspiring constructive action towards shared policy goals and the pursuit of tangible outcomes, such as servicing projects in the fields of education, health, conflict prevention, employment, integration and media education;

       (b)           Creating an appropriate mechanism within Governments to, inter alia, identify and address potential areas of tension between members of different religious communities, and assisting with conflict prevention and mediation;

       (c)           Encouraging training of Government officials in effective outreach strategies;

       (d)           Encouraging the efforts of leaders to discuss within their communities the causes of discrimination, and evolving strategies to counter these causes;

       (e)           Speaking out against intolerance, including advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence;

       (f)            Adopting measures to criminalize incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief;

       (g)           Understanding the need to combat denigration and negative religious stereotyping of persons, as well as incitement to religious hatred, by strategizing and harmonizing actions at the local, national, regional and international levels through, inter alia, education and awareness-building;

       (h)           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;

       6.             Calls upon all States:

       (a)           To take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries in the conduct of their public duties do not discriminate against an individual on the basis of religion or belief;

       (b)           To foster religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion, and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society;

       (c)           To encourage the representation and meaningful participation of individuals, irrespective of their religion, in all sectors of society;

       (d)           To make a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures;

       7.             Encourages States to consider providing updates on efforts made in this regard as part of ongoing reporting to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;

       8.             Calls upon States to adopt measures and policies to promote the full respect for and protection of places of worship and religious sites, cemeteries and shrines, and to take measures in cases where they are vulnerable to vandalism or destruction;

       9.             Calls for strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs.

Distr. by UN HRC Extranet / Original: English/ 16 March 2012

Posted in For Your Information, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Religion, Human Rights and Islam, International Human Rights, Pakistan | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

NGOs ask OIC’s new human rights body to engage civil society

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

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 02/21/2012 8:13 PM

Several non-governmental human rights organizations said that the newly established Islamic Cooperation Organization (OIC) Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) should actively involve civil society in their activities.

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

He added that the participation of civil society was necessary and required access, distribution of information and other mechanisms from the commission.

Rafendi’s statement was made during an informal luncheon discussion between the commissioners of OIC’s IPHRC and Indonesian civic leaders at the Aryaduta Hotel in Central Jakarta.

The IPHRC is holding its first official meeting from Monday to Friday this week in Jakarta.

Indonesia’s representative to the commission, Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, has been appointed as commission chairperson. The commission is currently determining where they might establish their headquarters.

The creation of the IPHRC is deemed as a major breakthrough for the Islamic world, as many of its countries face criticism regarding allegations of failure to protect human rights.

Several representatives from Indonesia, such as Wahid Institute director Yenny Zannuba Wahid and the chairperson of the National Commission on Violence against Women, Yuniyanti Chuzaifah, also attended the event. (rpt)


Posted in CSO Participation, Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), Indonesia, OIC Human Rights News | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a 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.

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