In his last speech as secretary general of the OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu gave an account of the major achievements and initiatives undertaken during his tenure at the opening of the 40th session of the CFM in Guinea on 9 December 2013.
From the consensual passage of UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 on combating religious intolerance and the adoption of the OIC Water Vision to the establishment of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission, the Women Development Organization, and a specialised department on humanitarian activities; while the Draft Statute of the Islamic Organization for Food Security is up for approval at this session and the Islamic States Broadcasting Regulatory Authorities Forum (IBRAF) and the OIC Media Forum (OMF) have submitted their applications for OIC Affiliate memberships. The secretary general also presented the progress made in addressing Islamophobia, promoting economic cooperation, advancing science and technology and developing education and health in the member states.
“I can say with full confidence that your organization has developed and matured into a reputable organization and has so far passed successfully through myriad challenges. During this period of 9 years, the OIC has waded its way into the twenty-first century in a much better standing. It is now playing a much more important role in the political, economic, cultural and social fields to forge Islamic solidarity,” said Ihsanoglu.
After thanking the people and leadership of Guinea for hosting the 40th CFM in Conakry and thanking Djibouti, the Chair of the previous session of the CFM, Ihsanoglu highlighted the outstanding progress made in implementing the Ten-Year Program of Action adopted in Makkah in 2005 while acknowledging with profound gratitude the support and interest he was awarded by the member states towards reaching these goals. “We have witnessed a clear demonstration of greater political will by the Member States to engage more actively and concretely in the activities and programs of the OIC which has witnessed a remarkable growth and expansion during this period. We are here to build on the important achievements of the previous CFM,” he said. He urged the member states to continue their support to the activities and programs of the OIC.
Pointing to the main achievements, at the international level, OIC’s process of reform and global political engagement led powers of the international community to establish or upgrade their relations with the OIC as a sign of their interest in engaging and cooperating with the Organization on a number of fronts, he said. The convening by the UN Security Council on 28 October 2013 of an unprecedented Special high-level session on the cooperation between the OIC and UN is a clear testimony of the unique standing the OIC has embraced.
As for the cause of Palestine, the raison d’être of the OIC, it has witnessed important developments in recent times. International unanimity on recognizing the State of Palestine as member of the UN General Assembly on 29 November 2012 was a major achievement that needs to be built on in order to secure more support to the Palestinian people and their legitimate national rights, stressed Ihsanoglu.
To examine the grave situation of the City of Al-Quds and the Aqsa Holy Mosque and consider possible actions to counter Israeli violations, he invited the member states to participate actively in the proceedings of the special session to be held during the current CFM session with a view to elaborating a program of action, including practical measures, that would put an end to continued Israeli violations in the city of Al-Quds. As a matter of urgency, he reiterated his call on all member states, institutions and funds to take the initiative and provide the financing required to implement the strategic plan for the development of vital sectors in Al-Quds as a means to unite our efforts and focus our interventions in a way commensurate with challenges the Holy City is facing.
He spoke about his recent visit to Palestine in August 2013 and his personal observation of the impending Judaization risk at Al-Quds and the stifling conditions on the ground suffered by the people under Israeli occupation.
Another important trip he undertook recently is to Myanmar, heading an OIC ministerial Contact Group delegation in November. Throughout the meetings with officials, civil society groups and Rakhine community members he expressed OIC’s wish to open channels of communication and dialogue with Myanmar as well as its readiness to contribute to the humanitarian and rehabilitation assistance to all affected people and communities without any discrimination. He also stressed the need to clarify the misperception and misunderstanding on both sides in order to build trust. At the conclusion of the visit a Joint Communiqué was issued with the Government of Myanmar, which outlined the framework of their joint cooperation. “Through constructive diplomacy, consistent pressure and international engagement a historic breakthrough was achieved in OIC relations with Myanmar.” Following the visit, Ihsanoglu wrote a letter to the President thanking him for his hospitality and proposing three projects: a technical training college and a medical facility in Rakhine State by the Islamic Development Bank and an international symposium on the relations of Buddhism and Islam through a historical perspective by IRCICA. He urged the Member States to provide urgent humanitarian aid and contribute to socio-economic projects while maintaining the political pressure on the government to fulfill the rights of the Rohingya Muslim Minority.