OIC Journal Issue 19 English
The Organisation Of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has membership of 57 states spread over four continents. The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world and ensuring to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world. The Organization was established upon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco on 12th Rajab 1389 Hijra (25 September 1969) as a result of criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.
About OIC The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states spread over four continents. The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world. It endeavors to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various peoples of the world. Originally named The Organization of the Islamic Conference, it was established pursuant a decision adopted by the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco, on 12th Rajab 1389 AH/ 25 September 1969 AD, following the criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. In 1970, the first ever meeting of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Minister (ICFM) was held in Jeddah. It adopted the decision to establish a permanent secretariat in Jeddah headed by the organization's secretary general. Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu is the 9th Secretary General who assumed office in January 2005 after being elected by the 31st ICFM Session. The first OIC Charter was adopted by the 3rd ICFM Session held in 1972. The Charter was amended to keep pace with the developments that have unraveled recently across the world. The 11th Islamic Summit held in Dakar in March 2008 endorsed the new Charter, which has become the pillar of the OIC future Islamic action in line with the requirements of the 21st century. The new Charter provides for the dissemination and safeguard of Islamic teachings and values based on moderation and tolerance, as well as the need to strive for the projection and defense of the true image of Islam. The new Charter also called for encouraging inter-civilizational and interfaith dialogue. Over the last 40 years, the OIC membership has grown from its founding members of 30 to 57 states. In 2011 in Astana, Khazakhstan, the 38th Council of Foreign Ministers endorsed changing the emblem and name to Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Organization has the singular honor of galvanizing the Ummah into a unified voice and representing Muslims by espousing all causes close to the hearts of over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. The Organization has consultative and cooperative relations with the UN and other inter-governmental organizations to protect the vital interests of the Muslims and to work for the settlement of conflicts and disputes involving Member States. In safeguarding the true values of Islam and Muslims, the organization has taken various steps to remove misperceptions and have strongly advocated elimination of discrimination against Muslims in all forms and manifestations. It has also engaged in fighting Islamophobia by setting up a dedicated observatory to track and monitor the phenomenon and its disturbing manifestations The Member States of the OIC face many challenges in the 21st century. To address these challenges, the 3rd Extraordinary Session of the Islamic Summit held in Makkah in December 2005, laid down a blue print called the Ten-Year Program of Action (TYPOA) which envisages joint action by the Member States, promotion of tolerance and moderation, modernization, extensive reforms in all spheres of activities including science and technology, education, and development of trade. It also emphasizes good governance and the promotion of human rights in the Muslim world, especially with regard to the children's and women's rights as well as family values enshrined in Islamic Shariah [law]. One of the outstanding achievements since the adoption of the Ten-Year Programme of Action (TYPOA) has been the recent reinvigoration and restructuring of the various OIC bodies. Among the OIC's key bodies the Islamic Summit, the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), the General Secretariat, in addition to the Al-Quds Committee chaired by the king of the Kingdom of Morocco, as Al-Quds remains the paramount issue on the OIC's agenda, and three permanent committees, one of which is concerned with science and technology (COMSTECH) that is chaired by the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the second committee is concerned with economy and trade (COMCEC) which is chaired by the President of the Republic of Turkey, while the third one is concerned with information and culture (COMIAC) which is chaired by the President of Senegal. The OIC has subsidiary organs, notably Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for the Islamic Countries (SESRIC), the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA) and the Islamic Center for the development of Trade (ICDT). Other specialized organs operating under the OIC include the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO). There are also affiliated organs such as the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) and the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS). The OIC subsidiary, affiliated and specialized organs play a vital role in boosting cooperation in various fields among the OIC Member States. For more details, visit the OIC website at www.oic-oci.org OUR MESSAGE Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu OIC Secretary General The OIC Human Rights Commission...Landmark Achievement and New Challenges It is only appropriate that a year marked by popular uprising in different parts of the Muslim world against injustice, corruption and abuse of power should conclude with the landmark establishment of a Human Rights commission duly equipped with a progressive vision and mandate. The historical significance of establishing the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) is derived not only from the timing but also from the foresight and commitment of the Member States reflected in the decision. The vision and mandate for establishment of the Commission was provided by the leadership in the OIC Ten-Year Program of Action adopted at the Makkah Islamic Summit in 2005, and it was accorded the statutory status by the new OIC Charter adopted in Senegal in 2008. Within the considerably short time of three years the statute of the Commission entered into force following adoption by the 38th Session of Council of Foreign Ministers in Astana, in June 2011. It is noteworthy that the Commission is launching its activities in a highly charged period of rising Islamophobia. In some sections of Western mind and media there are deep-seated misperceptions � due, in large measure, to either ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation � regarding incompatibility between Islam and Human Rights. It may be acknowledged that Human Rights violations occur in the Muslim world as in other parts of the world. It would, however, be a mistake to associate or confuse such violations with Islam. It was the first religion in the world that called for full equality among people regardless of their race, language, ethnic origin, social status, etc. Islam emphasized and enforced the concept of "rights" long before it acquired currency in modern existence. It is in this backdrop that the18-member Commission � four of whom are women � is faced with an onerous task. The IPHRC met for a brainstorming meeting on December 7th and 8th in Jeddah to prepare for its first formal session to be held in Jakarta in the first quarter of 2012. In my opening remarks at the meeting, I summarized the task of the Commission to removing the misperceptions regarding the interface between Islam and Human Rights, emphasizing five points: complementarity (value added), introspection (remedial not judgmental), prioritization, incremental and progressive approach, and credibility both within and outside the OIC domain. The last point concerning credibility is perhaps the most crucial and urgent one. I sincerely hope that the Commission will have the support, cooperation and encouragement it needs and deserves from the Member States as well as the international community to perform its functions for the benefit of the Member States and the world at large. OIC Journal Issued by The Organization of Islamic Cooperation Editor - in - Chief Isam Salim Shanti General Supervisor & Managing Editor Maha Mostafa Akeel Editors Ahmed Salem Abdelhamid Salhi Layout & Design Mohammed Abdelqader Qalaba Advisory Board Ali Abolhassani Shahreza Hasan Oker Gurler Address: Madinah Road, P.O. Box 178, Jeddah-21411 Saudi Arabia Tel: 6515222 Fax: 6512288 Telx.: 601366 Islami SJ. Website: www.oic-oci.org For comments, enquiries and advertisement E-mail: email@example.com OIC Permanent Observer to the UN New York Office 320 East - 51st Street New York 10022 New York - U.S.A. www.oicun.org firstname.lastname@example.org OIC Permanent Observer to the UN Geneva Office ICC-20 Route Pre-BoisCase Postal 1818 CH 1215 Geneve - SUISSE www.oic-un.org oic@oic - un.org The views expressed by the writers/ authors of the articles published in OIC Journal do not necessarily represent the views of the OIC, but are the personal views of the OIC authors reserves themselves. the right/ A WORD OIC mediation capacity The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the United Nations (UN) Mediation Support Unit (MSU) organized a workshop at the OIC in December 2011 on mediation with the aim to build institutional capacity of the OIC in the field of Preventive Diplomacy and Mediation as tools of conflict prevention. This initiative could not have been held at a more opportune time. In light of ongoing political unrest in some OIC Member States and the new challenges these states face, a forward-looking approach to find solutions to these conflicts is needed. The OIC has comparative advantages and can bring added value to the prevention and resolution of conflicts. It has proven its success in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and the Philippines. The Secretary General's good offices have also been put to use several times. At the 38th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Astana, the Ministers supported efforts to strengthen and enhance the role of the OIC in conflict prevention and resolution. The OIC has already prepared a comprehensive study on the aspects relating to its future role in peacekeeping, security maintenance and conflict resolution. Perhaps it is time to make the important decision to establish a mediation and peace-building department or unit within the OIC General Secretariat and provide it with the required tools and trained personnel. Such a step would further enhance the standing of the OIC in the international arena as a viable peace facilitator. Maha M. Akeel However, discretion to amend, revise, edit, delete or scrutinize any part or portion of the text as and wherever deemed necessary. OIC Human Rights Commission holds a preparatory meeting for its first formal session In Focus 4 President Abbas asks UN for full Palestinian membership Participants in the Istanbul Conference on Afghanistan agree to cooperate World Affairs 12 19 OIC Executive Committee meeting calls on Syria to stop the violence 30 The 4th Forum of the UNAOC discuss dialogue, dignity, democracy and development issues UN Resolution 16 /18 sets on an implementation framework in Washington Culture 45 48 Recovery stage in Somalia 32 OIC Ministers of Higher Education approve Key Performance Indicators for Universities Education 54 Economy The need for scaling up vocational education and training programs Enhancing joint investment opportunities on food security OIC Health Ministers call for promoting selfreliance in vaccine production 59 63 56 OIC Related Links Subsidiary Organs The International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA) www.fiqhacademy.org The Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Center for Islamic Countries (SESRIC) www.sesrtcic.org The Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) www.ircica.org The Islamic Center for the Development of Trade (CIDC) www.icdt-oic.org The Islamic University of Technology (UIT) www.iutoic-dhaka.edu Specialized Institutions and Organs The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) www.isdb.org International Islamic News Agency (IINA) www.islamicnews.org.sa The Islamic States Broadcasting Organization (ISBO) www.isboo.org The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Rabat (ISESCO)www.isesco.org.ma Affiliated Institutions Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) www.icci-oic.org Organization of Islamic Capitals and Cities (OICC) www.oicc.org Organization of the Islamic Shipowners Association (OISA) www.oisaonline.com World Federation of Arab Islamic International Schools (WFAIS) www.wfais.org Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (ICYF-DC) www.icyf.com Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) www.ias-worldwide.org OIC Calendar: January � March 2012 12 -14 January: Meeting of Senior Officials to Consider the Draft OIC Water Vision � Istanbul, Turkey. 21 -22 January: Coordination Meeting of the OIC Institutions Working in Economic Domain � OIC Headquarters, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 23 -24 January: 3rd Meeting of the Board of Directors of SMIIC � Istanbul, Turkey. 31 January-1 February: 5th Steering Committee on Health � OIC Headquarters, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 12- 14 February: First International Conference on Halal Food Control and Exhibition � Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 17 February: 23rd Meeting of the Governing Board of the Islamic University of Uganda � Kampala, Uganda. 20 -24 February: First Meeting of Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission Experts � Jakarta, Indonesia. 14- March: First OIC Health Expo � Tunis, Tunisia. 3- 5 March: Training Session for Officials in charge of the Information Sector in the Member Institutions of the Committee on Coordination of Joint Islamic Action in the field of Dawa � Cairo, Egypt. 5 -6 March: Meeting of the OIC Ministers Responsible for Water � Istanbul, Turkey. IN FOCUS OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission holds a preparatory meeting for its first formal session Wael Attiya- Egypt Adel Al-Mahry- UAE Dr. Raihanah AbdullahMalaysia Dr. Saleh Al-KhatlanSaudi Arabia Amb. Ilham Ahmed- Sudan Dr. Mohamed Al-EkerPalestine Dr. Oumar Abou AbbaCameroon Amb. Abdul WahabPakistan Amb. Mostafa Alaei- Iran Dr. Zuhtu Arslan- Turkey Mahamat Al-Bachir Ibrahim- Chad Siti Ruhaini DzuhayatinIndonesia Med Kaggwa- Uganda Ousmane Balde- Guinea Amb. Mohammed Kawu Ibrahim- Nigeria Mohammed RaissouniMorocco Mohammed Lamin TimboAsila Wardak- Afghanistan Sierra Leone Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � Maha Akeel The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of OIC (IPHRC) held an Orientation Meeting at the Headquarters of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jeddah on 7 -8 December 2011. The meeting, being in a brainstorming mode, conducted preparatory work for the first formal session expected to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia in the first quarter of 2012. In his opening remarks at the meeting, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said: It is expected that this Commission of independent experts would constitute an important pillar of the ongoing process of reform at the OIC with a view to transforming the Organization into a body that would effectively cope with the existing and emerging challenges faced by the Muslim world. He summarized the task of the Commission to removing the misperceptions regarding the interface between Islam and Human Rights, emphasizing 5 points: First, is complementarity; the IPHRC must not be compared to or seen as duplicating existing Human Rights mechanisms but as complementing and bridging the gaps. Second, is introspection; the Commission must build capacities and provide solutions for the Member States in the area of Human Rights. Third, is to prioritize; dealing with issues in accordance with importance. Fourth, is to follow an incremental and progressive approach; transforming itself into a relevant and effective 4 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 body over a period of time. Fifth and most important, is for the Commission to establish its credibility, in the shortest possible time, with both Member States and the international community. Four working sessions over two days discussed the nature and scope of the statute and the basic elements of the rules of procedure to be finalized and adopted by the next session of Council of Foreign Ministers in Djibouti in mid 2012. The sessions also discussed the main elements of agenda and work program for the Jakarta session and the working methods to be adopted by the Commission in light of the statute. In charting out the agenda for the first session, the Commission may focus on providing advisory services to Member States in areas including civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; human rights situation and issues on the OIC agenda; and Muslim minorities and communities in non-OIC states. The 18-member Commission � 4 of whom are women � was formally established following adoption of its statute � and immediate entry into force � at the 38th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Kazakhstan in June 2011. Speaking to the OIC Journal, the Commission member from Malaysia Dr. Raihanah binti Abdullah said that the image of Islamic countries in the international arena is bad in terms of Human Rights, particularly with regards to women's rights and the rights of children, so by having this Commission she hopes that the Islamic countries would deal with their Human Rights issues more professionally. The member from Afghanistan Asila Wardak also stressed on women's rights. She said that Muslim women face many problems, especially in Afghanistan and other conflictaffected countries. "I'm very optimistic and positive about this (IPHRC) initiative and we are committed to work hard," she said to the OIC Journal. Wardak said that, unfortunately, in Afghanistan the culture of impunity is increasing every day especially now that the international troops are leaving and giving power to the national army and police who are not trained enough on basic human rights issues, consequently women are the victims. She said there were several cases of rape after the transition period, and this is the concern of Human Rights activists there. "We are seeking the help of the OIC countries in terms of capacity building of our police and in terms of providing training to justice and law organizations in Afghanistan." Nevertheless, the situation for women now in Afghanistan is better than what it was ten years ago, she said. Many bills and laws have been passed in support of women's rights, and there is a Human Rights Commission, a Ministry of Women's Affairs and 27 percent of Parliament is women. Meanwhile, the member from Pakistan, Amb. Abdul Wahab praised the establishment of the Commission. "It is an important achievement for the OIC collectively and for the Secretary General in particular to have succeeded in establishing the Human Rights Commission so soon after adoption of the new vision of the OIC in December 2005." He added that the Commission is determined to work sincerely and honestly on both fronts: improvement of situations at home and project positive developments to the rest of the world. Amb. Ilham Ibrahim Mohamed Ahmed from Sudan agreed on the importance of the Commission. She said that the Commission members have a big job ahead of them and it will Dr. Mohamed Mamduh Al-Eker is the head of the Palestinian Independent Human Rights Commission and one of the elected 18 members to the newly established OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC). Speaking to the OIC Journal, he said that the establishment of the Palestinian Commission was very important because of the circumstances it was established in. It was established � in 1993 by a presidential decree by the late President Yasser Arafat � as an independent human rights commission when the Palestinians have not established an independent state. Despite the Israeli occupation it managed to act as if it is in an independent state and comply with all the requirements of a human rights commission according to the "Paris Principles" of the UN defining the role expected by a national human rights commission. It prepared annual reports, which it presented to the president and the legislative council and organized press conferences on the reports. The Commission holds the Authority accountable, it questions it and documents all the Human Rights violations. "We are not a political opposition, we are concerned with the Authority upholding the highest possible degree of commitment to the whole system of human rights and freedoms," said Al-Eker to OIC Journal. This gave the Commission credibility not only nationally not be easy but she is confident of their success. The member from Cameroon, Dr. Oumar Abou Abba, also saluted the creation of the IPHRC because the issue of Human Rights is not only important at the level of human beings but also the Member States; as part of the international community they should prove they are ready to defend these issues, to defend their rights and to promote them. The Palestinian member, Dr. Mohammad Mamduh AlEker, said that, "The establishment of the Commission is an important achievement, at the level of the Islamic countries and at the level of clarifying the true Islam." At the level of Islamic countries, the Commission can do many things for Human Rights in the Member States regarding not only the political and civil human rights but also the economic, social, cultural and particularly with regards to women's rights and the rights of the child and people with special needs, and recently there is focus on development and the right of development. There is also the important role of clarifying the true position of Islam as a religion with regards to Human Rights, he said. On the one hand, there is a misunderstanding, which could be innocent, of the position of Islam on Human Rights, especially on certain issues. The misunderstanding could be innocent for the lack of information or the shortcomings of intellectuals and defenders of Human Rights in the Arab and Muslim world in standing up to such misrepresentation. However, there is also the deliberate defamation by certain circles that know the truth but insist on distortion. Therefore, establishing the Commission is a great step and can do many things in this regard. There are many challenges ahead for the Commission, but perhaps the most important is gaining credibility. "It is an "independent" Commission and it has to be committed to that in every step," said Dr. Al-Eker. but also regionally and internationally. Five years ago it was awarded `A status' by the International Coordination Committee of the Human Rights Commissions and gained permanent membership in the Committee. Nevertheless, the Palestinian Independent Human Rights Commission face continuous obstacles in performing its duties. "The biggest violator to the human rights of Palestinians is the occupation," said Al-Eker. However, the Commission members found that it would be wise to instead of duplicating what NGOs and other specialized civil organizations are doing in documenting Israeli violations, the Commission would focus on how those Israeli violations are affecting the work of the Palestinian Authority. "Because to be fair to the Authority, how can we, for example, say that there is delay in processing court cases when a major cause of that are the Israeli check-points and obstacles to free movement of the judges, the police and the accused," explained Al-Eker. Unfortunately, the internal division between Fatah and Hamas also contributed to the deterioration of human rights in the Palestinian territories. Al-Eker hopes that with the Palestinian reconciliation agreement these violations will end forever so that the Commission can go back to focusing on promoting human rights in Palestine. 5 An independent human rights commission in a non-independent state OPINION OIC's Human Rights Commission: a monumental step forward Dr. Isam Salim Shanti Chief Editor task of the Commissioners to removing the misperceptions concerning the boundary between Islam and Human Rights. The Secretary General of OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, described the creation of an Independent Permanent Commission on Human Rights (IPCHR) as "a seminal event in the organization's history." He emphasized in his speech to the commissioner meeting in Jeddah five basic points that need to be observed and accommodated: Firstly, stressing complementarity conception between global Human Rights and Islamic values. Meaning that the IPHRC's prioritized task would be to abridge the gabs between the existing Human Rights mechanism and Islamic values. Duplication and comparison should be avoided in order to realize the maximum benefit in the OIC Member States. Secondly, Professor Ihsanoglu stressed that introspection is founded in a remedial and not a judgmental approach. He said that the Commission should build capacities and provide solutions for the Member States in the area of Human Rights. Thirdly, prioritization of tasks when dealing with issues of significance in the OIC Member States by the commissioners. Fourthly, stressing on an incremental and progressive approach as sustainable process. Lastly, the Secretary General emphasized the importance of credibility by the commissioners in the shortest possible time with both Member States and the international community. It is obvious that the establishment of IPHRC reflects the OIC Member States' interest in and commitment to Human Rights. In celebrating the Human Rights Day this year, the OIC reiterated its common resolve to accommodate diversity and eliminate discrimination by reviving the spirit of dialogue, cooperation and mutual respect through a collective effort and forging harmony between different cultures and societies. OIC's initiative with regard to introducing an alternative approach that resulted in the consensual adoption of resolution 1618/ at the Human Rights Council clearly indicates that the international community can rely on OIC as a credible and worthwhile partner. It should be clear that the IPHRC is not expected to perform its duties perfectly immediately after its establishment and cannot be expected to do everything at the same time. Thus, it worth saying that the new commission will cooperate with the United Nations human rights body in order to render the intended objectives, including the promotion and protection of the rights of women, children, youth, the elderly and people with special needs. In conclusion, the establishment of IPHRC is a monumental step forward in the overall process of reform, which began in 2005. It is monumental because the OIC has practically introduced the needed mechanism to combine Islamic values and global human rights values and put together on the wheel of implementation. Ihsanoglu: "the celebration of Human Rights Day on 10 December each year provides the opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of Human Rights and human dignity evolving over the march of civilization". The establishment of an Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) constituted an important landmarks and a significant accomplishment in the history of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) since 1969. The vision and the mandate of the IPHRC were provided in the OIC's Ten-Year Programme of Action, which was adopted by the 3rd Extraordinary Islamic Summit held in Makkah Al-Mukarramah in 2005, and in the new OIC's Charter, which was unanimously adopted in the Dakar Summit in March 2008. In 2010, the IPCHR was approved in principle during the OIC Foreign Minister Meeting (CFM) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. In June 2011, the statute of the IPHRC entered into force following its adoption by the 38th Session of the CFM in Astana, Kazakhstan. A highly qualified group of 18 human rights experts, from different Arab, Asian and African member states, were immediately elected and it was decided that the first formal IPHRC Session will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia in February 2012. On December 7, 2011 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia the IPHRC held an Orientation and Preparatory meeting at the Headquarters of the OIC calling on the members of the Commission to prove its credibility in the shortest time possible. For OIC the IPHRC is a solid reflection of the collective will on the part of the Member States to engage constructively and substantively on wide ranging issues pertaining to Human Rights. Expectedly, the independent experts of IPHRC will come up with a paradigm shift within the OIC World capable of bringing about a coherent regime capable of putting universal rights and freedoms together with Islamic values towards achieving the full enjoyment of all Human Rights in the Member States. In this context, the statute provides the necessary guidance on the nature and scope of IPHRC as well as the 6 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 SPECIAL REPORT: 66 UNGA/ACM 2011 OIC supports Saudi-UN agreement for establishing counter-terrorism center New York, USA - The Secretary General Terrorism Strategy as the general framework of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for counter-terrorism activities and stressed (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu participated that the Strategy must address the root causes in the UN Symposium on International of terrorism, including the unlawful use of Counter-Terrorism Cooperation on force, aggression, and foreign occupation, September 19, 2011 where he expressed OIC prolonged conflict of peoples and denial of support for the agreement signed between the rights to self-determination living under Saudi Arabia and the United Nations on foreign occupation. establishing a Counter-Terrorism Center, The Secretary General elaborated on which Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud how a few extremists who committed acts Al-Faisal had announced at the Symposium. of terrorism such as the tragic 9/ 11 attacks The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has tarnished the image of Islam and King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz had proposed consequently there has been a gradual rise the establishment of this center at the 2005 of anti-Islam sentiments and activities in Counter-Terrorism Conference hosted by different parts of the west. Saudi Arabia. The Secretary General said that the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (epa) Muslim world believes that counterannounced that the world body has signed terrorism activities should focus on a sincere an agreement with Saudi Arabia to help create a UN Center search for the causes of terrorism and address them, rather for Counter Terrorism (UNCCT). than feign ignorance and fight their external manifestations. "The center will go a long way in countering terrorism "I believe that terrorism cannot be effectively addressed by around the world," he said at a signing ceremony with dealing with the issue purely from security perspective." Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal. He added that if only 10% of the billions of dollars spent Saudi Arabia will contribute $10 million over the next in the war against terrorism were utilized towards creating three years to set up the center, which will be based in New a development environment through proper education and York. The center will support the implementation of an anti- providing better social conditions for relatively backward terror strategy, foster international cooperation, strengthen societies, it would have yielded far better results countering individual countries' capacity-building efforts and build up terrorism through eradication of its root causes. a database of best practices. The Secretary General said UNCCT is one of the proposals that OIC has consistently pursued made by a counterterrorism a policy of engagement with the Ihsanoglu stressed on conference in Riyadh five years ago. West to remove misgivings between addressing root causes of Since then, Saudi Arabia has been Muslims and the West and extended repeatedly calling for the setting up its hand of cooperation on issues of terrorism of the center to strengthen global common concern. He added that the efforts to fight terror. OIC, the UN and other regional and In his statement at the international organizations could Symposium, the Secretary General reiterated the OIC enter into a meaningful partnership on this issue. position on terrorism. "The OIC believe that the perpetrators of terror have no respect for human life or dignity and pursue In this context, he proposed holding an international allan agenda of hate and destruction. "They have no character, embracing conference on combating terrorism that would follow no faith and live by a dogma of violence," he said. establish an unequivocal definition of terrorism. He also He stressed that the OIC endeavors to combat terrorism proposed to intensify efforts in the fields of security and law at its roots whatever its possible underpinnings, whether enforcement and to further deprive terrorists of financial political, economic, social or technological. Accordingly, the resources and mobility; and to strengthen the legal regime Organization issued in 1994 a Code of Conduct to which all and building on existing international counter-terrorism Muslim States are committed. The OIC's efforts were further instruments, Security Council and the UN General Assembly strengthened with the establishment of the Convention on resolutions as well as relevant OIC resolutions. Combating Terrorism in July 1999. Over the past seven years, the OIC and its Member States He reiterated OIC's readiness to cooperate with have expanded their cooperation and coordination with the any credible initiative in addressing the root causes and UN and other international and regional organizations on consequences of terrorism with a view to having a safer the issue of combating international terrorism. The Secretary world free from the evil faces of terrorism for our future General reiterated OIC's support to the UN Global Counter generations. 7 SPECIAL REPORT: 66 UNGA/ACM 2011 The situation in Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen also topped his agenda New York, USA - Throughout his bilateral meetings on the sidelines of his participation in the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu mobilized support for Palestinian bid to UN membership. On his first full day schedule on September 19 he met with the Foreign Minister of Oman, Yusuf bin Alawi. They discussed the regional developments, particularly the Palestinian issue and the bid for membership at the United Nations. The Secretary General then had a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Yerzhan Kazykhanov, in which the Secretary General discussed the Palestinian issue and the contemporary developments in the Middle East in preparation for the working lunch meeting at the Ministerial level that was later hosted by Kazakhstan as the current Chair of the Council of Foreign Ministers. He next had a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Egypt Mohamed Kamel Amr. Again, the Palestinian issue was raised as well as the humanitarian situation in Somalia where the Egyptian Minister offered Egyptian cooperation, considering its experience in humanitarian work in the Horn Africa, with OIC. The Secretary General welcomed the offer. The two sides also discussed the date for holding the 12th Islamic Summit, which is to be hosted by Egypt in 2012 at the earliest suitable time. The Secretary General later met with the President of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, HE Dr. Dervis Eroglu. The Secretary General expressed OIC's full support to the negotiated solution to the Cyprus issue until the end of this year. He also indicated his willingness to visit TRNC sometime in the next few months. At a later time the Secretary General held talks with the President of Kyrgyz Republic, HE Roza Otunbayeva. The two sides discussed further development of OIC-Kyrgyz relations and Kyrgyz's active participation in OIC initiatives and projects through signing and ratifying various OIC agreements, particularly in the field of economic cooperation. The Kyrgyz President expressed her appreciation for OIC solidarity of Kyrgyz Republic. The Secretary General hailed the exemplary march of Kyrgyzstan towards democratization. He expressed EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Lady Catherine Ashton Ihsanoglu mobilizes support for Palestinian bid to UN membership the readiness of OIC to assist in any possible means. The Secretary General had fruitful bilateral meetings on September 20, 2011 with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States (LAS) Mr. Nabil Elaraby and the Prime Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Naser Al-Mohammad AlAhmad Al-Sabah. In the meeting with the Mr. Nabil Elaraby, both sides stressed on the importance of bolstering relations between the two organizations within the framework of the cooperation agreement they signed. The two Secretaries General exchanged views on the situation in Palestine and the bid for membership in the UN and the importance of continuing coordination between the two organizations in this regard. They also exchanged views on developments in Syria, Libya and Yemen. As for his meeting with the Prime Minister of Kuwait, the Secretary General expressed his appreciation for Kuwait's support to the OIC and its continued humanitarian assistance to Somalia. On his side, Sheikh Naser Al-Mohammad AlAhmad Al-Sabah appreciated the role of the OIC in enhancing solidarity among the Muslim world. The Secretary General met with the President of Djibouti HE Ismael Omar Guelleh on September 21. They reviewed OIC-Djibouti bilateral relations and discussed preparations for next year's OIC Council of Foreign Ministers' conference, which will be hosted by Djibouti. The Secretary General also discussed the situation in Somalia and the OIC Humanitarian efforts there. President Guelleh expressed his appreciation of OIC efforts in alleviating the suffering of the Somalis. The Secretary General also met with the President of Lebanon HE General Michel Sleiman whose country presides the UN Security Council. The meeting discussed promoting OIC-Lebanon relations. It focused on regional developments and emphasized the importance of peace, security and the need to restore stability in the region. The meeting also stressed the need to promote dialogue as the only means for achieving democracy and the rule of law. The Secretary General also had fruitful bilateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Russian Federation and Finland on September 21. Ihsanoglu and the Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd exchanged views on possible ways and means to enhance Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov President of Lebanon HE General Michel Sleiman 8 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 relations between the OIC and Australia, especially after the appointment of an Australian Special Envoy to the OIC. The meeting touched on current issues on the agenda of the UN, particularly the Palestinian issue and the humanitarian support for Somalia. In his meeting with the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, the Secretary General commended the excellent bilateral cooperation between the OIC and Russia. The two sides reviewed the outcome of political consultations held in Jeddah this year and the preparations for the next round of consultations in Moscow next year. The two sides also discussed the latest developments in the Palestinian issue. The Secretary General discussed the Palestinian issue with the Foreign Minister of Finland Erkki Tuomioja as well. Ihsanoglu and Tuomioja reviewed possible cooperation between the OIC and Finland and the need to strengthen cooperation on issues of mutual interest. They also discussed enhancing OIC-EU cooperation and OIC-UN cooperation through the Alliance of Civilizations. On September 22, mobilizing efforts for Palestinians began at the OIC Committee on Palestine meeting where the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Malki briefed the attendants on the developments in this regard and the Palestinian contacts with the member states of the UN. He requested all the Member States to use their good offices with all concerned Security Council members to secure the necessary support for the Palestinian bid to membership. All the Member States assured the Minister of their support. The Secretary General then held bilateral meetings with the Emir of Qatar HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and the Foreign Minister of Morocco Taib Fassi Fihri. They all stressed on the urgency of the Palestinian issue and the need for concerted efforts at all fronts. The Secretary General later co-chaired with the Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Yerzhan Kazykhanov the OIC-EU meeting with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Lady Catherine Ashton. The Secretary General urged the EU to support the legitimate rights of Palestinians for an independent state in accordance with resolutions of international legitimacy. Ihsanoglu and Ashton also discussed the ways to enhance OIC-EU cooperation on issues of mutual interest including prevention of incitement to hatred, improving humanitarian work in Somalia and supporting least developed countries. Ihsanoglu also met with the Prime Minister of the Transitional Government of Somalia Abdi eli Mohamed Ali and discusses the situation in Somalia and reviewed with him Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd OIC humanitarian efforts. For his part, the Prime Minister commended the support of the OIC for the famine and drought affected people in Somalia, especially its work through the OIC Office in Mogadishu. He briefed the Secretary General of the latest political and security developments in Somalia. On September 24, the OIC Secretary General met with the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Ban Ki-moon. The meeting discussed the bilateral cooperation between the OIC and the UN on issues related to peace and security. Ban Ki-moon commended Ihsanoglu for his leadership of OIC. The meeting also discussed the preparations for OIC-UN biannual meeting in Geneva next year as well as the cooperation between the two organizations within the framework of mediation and the joint projects in this regard. The meeting also discussed the latest developments in Palestine and the Palestinian application for statehood. In addition, the meeting touched on cooperation in the post-conflict phase in Libya. In his meeting with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Abdullatif Al-Zayani, the two Secretaries General discussed bilateral relations within the framework of the agreement signed between the two organizations. They also discussed the follow up of the last OIC-GCC consultation meeting held in Riyadh earlier this year and the preparations for the next meting. Furthermore, the meeting discussed the situation in Yemen and Ihsanoglu reiterated the support of the OIC for the GCC initiative in Yemen. The OIC Secretary General also held a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The discussion focused the situation in Afghanistan and the humanitarian support for Somalia. In his meeting with the Foreign Minister of Sudan, Ali Karti, the Foreign Minister briefed the Secretary General on the recent developments in Sudan. The Secretary General reiterated the support and solidarity of the OIC to Sudan to face the challenges ahead. The Secretary General also met with the Foreign Minister of Algeria, Mourad Medelci. Both parties discussed the situation in Libya and Palestine. In his meeting with the Foreign Minister of Brazil, Antonio De Aguiar Patriota, the Secretary General of the OIC briefed Brazilian Minister and the accompanying delegation on the activities of the OIC especially in the political, economic and cultural fields. The meeting discussed Brazil's application for observer in the OIC. Foreign Minister of Finland Erkki Tuomioja Foreign Minister of Brazil Antonio De Aguiar Patriota 9 SPECIAL REPORT: 66 UNGA/ACM 2011 OIC Executive Committee supports taking Gaza blockade issue to international legal authorities illegal blockade against the Gaza Strip and rejected the claims contained in the Palmer report on the blockade. The Meeting expressed its full support to the efforts to take the issue before competent international legal authorities. Meanwhile, the participants reiterated OIC's strong backing for the efforts of the State of Palestine to mobilize support for the inalienable Palestinian rights and legitimate national aspirations. It supported the efforts being made so that Palestine obtains full membership of the United Nations and takes its rightful place among the community of nations. On the situation in Syria, the Meeting expressed its deep concern over the continued bloodshed and called for restraint and dialogue among all parties. As for Libya, the Meeting expressed its full support to the NTC and called for reconciliation and unity among all factions for the reconstruction of Libya, good governance, promotion of human rights, expansion of political participation and comprehensive development in order to face the political, social, humanitarian and economic challenges ahead. It called upon OIC Member States to provide whatever assistance possible to Libya in the postconflict phase. The Meeting reaffirmed the continuity of Libya as a fullfledged member of the OIC. Members of the OIC Executive Committee met for a working lunch meeting hosted by the Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan in New York on September 19, 2011, two days ahead of the opening of the 66th UN General Assembly general debate. The meeting focused on developments in some OIC Member States including in Palestinian, Syria, Libya and Somalia. They exchanged views on supporting Palestinian bid for statehood and membership in the United Nations prior to the OIC Annual Coordination Meeting to be held on September 23. The Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in his opening remarks reiterated OIC condemnation of Israel's OIC Contact Group Meetings held on the sidelines of Annual Coordination Meeting Meeting on Sierra Leone urges stakeholders to give a new lease on life to the OIC Trust Fund for Sierra Leone The OIC Contact Group on Sierra Leone met at the Ministerial level on the sidelines of the Annual Coordination Meeting of the OIC Foreign Ministers in New York on 20th September 2011 and reviewed the latest situation in the country. The meeting invited all stakeholders to come up with concrete proposals aimed at giving a new lease of life to the OIC Trust Fund for Sierra Leone, which has been unable to cope with the pressing socioeconomic needs due to its scant financial resources exhausted since December 2006. The meeting also urged all OIC Member States to assist in finding alternative viable solutions to the Trust Fund for Sierra Leone in order to re-boost it and reinvigorate it. The meeting acknowledged the important progress made by Sierra Leone in the areas of infrastructure development, education and agriculture under the able leadership of H.E. President Ernest Bai Koroma, and invited all OIC Member 10 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 States and their private sector to extend further economic and financial assistance to Sierra Leone. The meeting expressed its satisfaction on the successful visit made by the OIC Secretary General to the Republic of Sierra Leone, on 12- June 2011 to show solidarity and express political support to the authorities and people of Sierra Leone for the progress made in the fields of democracy, the rule of law, good governance and national reconciliation. The OIC Contact Group on Somalia also met on 20th September 2011 in New York. The meeting reviewed the latest developments in Somalia and received a briefing from the Somali Foreign Minister and the OIC Secretary General. It also heard interventions from other members of the Contact Group. The meeting deliberated on the peace building process and the restoration of durable peace in Somalia. The meeting commended the Transitional Institutions for ending their dispute by signing and implementing the Meeting on Somalia discusses peace building and humanitarian assistance Kampala Accord and the Roadmap on ending the transition in Somalia. The meeting further commended the TFG and AMISOM for the progress made in the security sector and urged them to sustain the momentum. On the other hand, the meeting expressed its deep sympathy to Somalia in the face of the severe drought and famine afflicting the country and commended the activities of the OIC Humanitarian Coordination Office in Mogadishu. It urged the Member States to channel their humanitarian assistance through the OIC Office on the ground. The meeting commended the OIC Member States for their contributions to Somalia, especially during the recent OIC Donors' Conference held in Istanbul. The meeting also welcomed the establishment of the OIC Trust Fund for Somalia and urged the Member States to generously contribute to it. The meeting further requested the Member States to increase their assistance to the TFG in its peace building efforts during the remaining period of the transition and reminded the international community to also live up to its obligations. The Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir met on 21 September 2011 at the Ministerial level on the sidelines of the Annual Coordination Meeting in New York. The meeting was opened by Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the OIC Secretary General, who reaffirmed, once more, full support of the OIC for and solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Other distinguished members of the Contact Group also made statements and reiterated their continued support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. They all called for peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. The True Representative of the Kashmiri people also made statements. Meeting on Jammu and Kashmir calls for peaceful resolution of disputes The OIC Contact Group on Bosnia and Herzegovina also convened on 21 September. The OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and other members of the OIC Contact Group on Bosnia and Herzegovina addressed the meeting. The Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sven Alkalaj then briefed the meeting on the current situation in Bosnia Herzegovina. After in depth discussion on the developments in Bosnia Herzegovina the meeting reiterated the OIC support to Bosnia Herzegovina. Meeting on Bosnia and Herzegovina stresses on reform and reconstruction The meeting expressed its deep concern over inadequate implementation of the key elements of the Dayton Peace Agreement. The OIC Contact Group underlined the need for early formation of state government to ensure the institution building measures and carry on necessary reforms to ensure transparency in the activities of the States. The meeting called upon OIC Member States and OIC Financial Institutions to contribute generously to the OIC Trust Fund for the Return of the Displaced Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina to enable the Fund to continue its reconstruction and development activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In his message to the OIC Contact Group on Iraq meeting, the Secretary General of the OIC Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on 22 September at the UN Headquarters briefed the attendants of the efforts exerted by the OIC in the reconciliation of Iraqis through the Makkah Document adopted in 2006 and in the reconstruction and humanitarian work in Iraq. He assured them of OIC's continued and dedicated support for Iraq. For his part, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mr. Hoshiar Zebari thanked the OIC wholeheartedly for its support; especially its role in ending the sectarian bloodshed through the Makkah Document, which he said had great impact on Iraqis. He appreciated the work of the Contact Group in meeting its objectives of integration, development and reconciliation. The participants agreed that the OIC Contact Group on Iraq had fulfilled its role and the purpose of its formation; therefore, it is no longer needed. 11 OIC assures Iraq of continued support SPECIAL REPORT: 66 UNGA/ACM 2011 President Abbas asks UN for full Palestinian OIC adopts Declaration on Palestine Palestinian above the law and President Mahmoud accountability? Will Abbas asked the it allow Israel to United Nations on continue rejecting September 23, 2011 the resolutions of the to recognize a state for Security Council and Palestinians. Abbas the General Assembly handed UN Secretary of the United Nations General Ban Ki-moon and the International an application for the Court of Justice admission of Palestine and the positions of on the basis of the 4 the overwhelming June 1967 borders, majority of countries with Al-Quds Alin the world? Sharif as its capital, as "The time a full member of the has come for my United Nations, which courageous and proud the Security Council people, after decades must consider. of displacement and In a passionate colonial occupation speech to the UN and ceaseless General Assembly, suffering, to live Abbas said: "I do not like other peoples believe that anyone of the earth, free with a shred of in a sovereign conscience can reject and independent our application for a homeland," he full membership in declared. the United Nations After delivering and our admission his speech at the as an independent UN, President Abbas state." He received a addressed the OIC standing ovation from Annual Coordination the majority at the Meeting for Foreign Assembly. Ministers in New "We extend our York. The President hand to the Israeli explained to the government and the Foreign Ministers Israeli people for that he submitted peacemaking," the the membership Palestinian leader said. application after all The Israeli delegates roads of negotiations stayed in the hall President Abbas said to the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly he submitted for achieving the during Abbas' speech. two-state solution Palestinian application for UN membership (epa). He recounted Israeli were blocked by Israel. aggressions, violations of international law as occupying state President Abbas called on the OIC Member States to support and its inhumane blockade of Gaza as well as the fact that the bid for Palestinian full membership. The Ministers then "every initiative and every conference and every new round of adopted a resolution on the Declaration on Palestine, which negotiations and every movement was shattered on the rock of supported the efforts to expand international recognition for the Israeli settlement expansion project." the State of Palestine on the 4th of June 1967 borders at all He called it a moment of truth for the world community: levels, including at the United Nations. The Declaration called Will it allow Israel to continue its occupation, the only upon the Member States to support the efforts aimed at the occupation in the world? Will it allow Israel to remain a State admission of Palestine to full membership in the UN. the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 12 membership, addresses OIC meeting in New York meeting where he gave his special address. Obama disappoints: US President Barack Obama, trying to avert a showdown on Palestinian statehood, told the UN on September 21, two days before Abbas' speech, there was no substitute for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations or a short cut to peace. Obama tried to dissuade the Palestinians from asking the UN Security Council for statehood in defiance of Israeli objections and a US veto threat. A year after telling the UN General Assembly he hoped to see a Palestinian state born by now, the US President said creating such a state alongside Israel remained his goal. "But the question isn't the goal we seek � the question is how to reach it. And I am convinced that there is no OIC Secretary General Ihsanoglu and Kazakhstan Foreign short cut to the end of a conflict that has Minister Kazykhanov listening to President Abbas at the OIC meeting endured for decades," Obama said. OIC Annual Coordination Meeting: "Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at Before President Abbas spoke to the meeting, the Secretary the UN � if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) by now," he said. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu opened along with the Foreign Minister "Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live of Kazakhstan, as the chair of the OIC, the Annual Coordination side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians � not us Meeting of the Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the 66th � who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on Session of the UN General Assembly. The Secretary General borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem," he added. stressed on the need to have more unity among the Member States in international fora because therein lies their strength. Security Council vote: On the question of Palestine, Ihsanoglu said that its The UN committee for approving new members met on 28 ramifications seriously endanger international peace and September to review the Palestinian application. It approved security, as Israel continues to insist on ignoring international the submitted report but did not send the application to the laws and defying, with impunity, UN resolutions and the will Security Council for voting. of the international community. The Secretary General touched on recent events in some parts of the Muslim world and said that the demands for good governance, accountability, rule of law and transparency were the core of what the OIC Third Extraordinary Summit held in Makkah in 2005 adopted in the Ten-Year Program of Action. He added that while the OIC congratulates legitimate aspirations of the peoples in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, he hoped that wisdom and reason will prevail elsewhere and that peaceful solutions to the present stalemates. The Secretary General also touched on the situation in Afghanistan and Somalia and on efforts at combating intolerance, especially with the adoption of the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 1618/ in March 2011. Following the Secretary General's speech, several Foreign Ministers took the floor. Then the meeting was adjourned to allow the Foreign Ministers to attend the speech of President Abbas at the UN General Assembly to show support. After President Abbas hands the Palestinian Authority's application for full membership to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (epa). President Abbas delivered his speech he came to the OIC 13 PALESTINE FILE UNESCO gives Palestinians full membership congratulated the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian people on this significant step that affirms their rights and serves the efforts to obtain international recognition of the State of Palestine, stressing at the same time the continued support of the OIC to the Palestinian efforts to gain full membership in the United Nations and the establishment of independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Secretary General made a strong statement at the UNESCO on the Palestine vote, highlighting that "Palestine's request for full membership to UNESCO dates back to 1989 and has Palestinian Authority and other delegates applauding after the General Conference been reiterated at each session of the admit Palestine as UNESCO member state in Paris, France, 31 October 2011 (epa). General Conference." Adding that, "We Paris, France � The Secretary General of the Organization are on the verge of a historic vote when of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu lauded the whole world is waiting for your decision. I am sure that the admission of the State of Palestine as full member of the everybody in this hall will rise up to his moral obligation and UNESCO and considered this as historic achievement and stand on the right side of history". a positive sign that paves the way to get full membership of Ihsanoglu reiterated his strong call for UNESCO to Palestine in the United Nations. protect, preserve and promote the historical, cultural, natural, Palestine became a full member of UNESCO on October and heritage sites in East Jerusalem and to initiate appropriate 31, 2011 in a highly divisive vote. actions in this regard. UNESCO is the first UN agency the Palestinians have The Secretary General also highlighted the issue of joined as a full member since President Mahmoud Abbas Islamophobia in his speech, and called for a structured and applied for full membership of the United Nations on 23 committed engagement to work out a mechanism to address September. The United States, Canada, Germany and Holland the sources and root causes of this malaise. In this connection, voted against Palestinian membership. Brazil, Russia, China, he stated the various efforts made by the OIC to combat India, South Africa and France voted in favor. Britain and intolerance and discrimination based on religious belief, Italy abstained. including implementation of the UN Human Rights Council Soon after the vote, the United States cut funding to Resolution 1618/. Moreover, Ihsanoglu discussed other vital the organization because of a US law that bars funding an issues including poverty eradication, and called for the need organization that has Palestine as a member before an Israeli- to shoulder a collective responsibility in adopting a strategy Palestinian peace deal is reached. UNESCO depends heavily for holistic and all-inclusive development. on US funding -- Washington provides 22 percent of its The Secretary General renewed the commitment of budget or about $80 million a year -- but has the OIC for continuing cooperation and coordination with survived without it in the past. Huge cheers UNESCO. He noted that the establishment of an OIC Liaison went up in the United Nations Educational, Office at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris validates such Scientific and Cultural Organization after commitment. delegates approved the membership. On the sidelines of the General Conference, the Secretary The Palestinians obtained backing General of the OIC also had separate meetings with Madam from two-thirds of UNESCO's members Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, Riadh Alto become the 195th member of UNESCO, Maliki, Foreign Minister of Palestine, Mohammad Hosseini, with status as "an observer entity." Of Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance of Iran and some 173 countries that voted from a possible other respective dignitaries. 185, 107 voted in favor, 14 voted against, On December 13, 2011 Palestinians raised their flag at the 52 abstained and 12 were absent. Forty headquarters of the UN cultural agency in Paris in a historic representatives of the 58-member board move and symbolic boost for their push for an independent has voted in favor of putting the matter to state. Cheers rose alongside the red, black, white and green a vote earlier in the month, with four -- flag during the ceremony. "This is truly a historic moment," the United States, Germany, Romania and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said at the ceremony, Latvia -- voting against and 14 abstaining. his speech punctuated by rousing applause and standing The OIC Secretary General ovations. 14 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 OIC blasts `biased UN report' on aid flotilla Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � The Organization of Islamic Israel's ambassador and suspended all military agreements Cooperation (OIC) has criticized the "biased" UN report with Tel Aviv over its refusal to apologize for the deadly on Israel's deadly attack on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla attack. Ihsanoglu also called for implementing the resolution Mavi Marmara and called for an independent inquiry into taken by the UN Human Rights Council Resolution adopted the incident. In a statement issued after the release of the in June 2010 that had urged Israel to facilitate the arrival of UN report by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey humanitarian supplies such as food and medicine to Gaza. Meanwhile, a panel of five independent UN rights Palmer early September, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu also urged the international community to put experts reporting to the UN Human Rights Council said pressure on Israel to lift its siege of Gaza and hold the country on September 13 that Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip violates international law, disputing the conclusion responsible for all its illegitimate acts. "The OIC cannot accept any report that would whitewash reached by the Palmer Report. The UN rights experts said Israel's attack on the humanitarian flotilla and condone Israel's the blockade had subjected Gazans to collective punishment illegal blockade of Palestinian civilians," the statement said. in "flagrant contravention of international human rights and "The UN's report failed to reflect an objective and humanitarian law." The four-year blockade deprived 1.6 million Palestinians unbiased position," Ihsanoglu added. The UN report by Palmer concluded that Israel's naval living in the enclave of fundamental rights, they said. blockade of Gaza was a "legitimate security measure." "In pronouncing itself on the legality of the naval blockade, The report blamed Israeli troops for using excessive force the Palmer Report does not recognize the naval blockade after boarding the Freedom Flotilla. The Israeli military as an integral part of Israel's closure policy toward Gaza attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the which has a disproportionate impact on the human rights of Mediterranean Sea on May 31, 2010, killing nine Turkish civilians," they said in a joint statement. An earlier fact-finding mission named by the same UN nationals aboard and injuring about 50 other activists who forum to investigate the flotilla incident also found in a report were part of the team on the six-ship flotilla. The OIC chief expressed his support for Turkey's recently last September that the blockade violated international law. declared plans to take Israel to the International Criminal The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says Court at The Hague over the incident. Turkey expelled the blockade violates the Geneva Conventions. A groundbreaking prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas Palestinian supporters of Hamas Movement celebrate the release of hundreds of prisoners (epa) Gaza, Palestine � An Egyptian and German-brokered agreement was announced in mid October of a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas. The groundbreaking deal is the release of 1027 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for releasing captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was captured, aged 19 at the time, by Palestinian fighters five years ago. The Palestinian prisoners include women and old prisoners serving life sentences and long-term sentences. Some were subjected to abuse and solitary confinement. The Secretary General of the OIC Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu welcomed the announcement made on the concluding of prisoners exchange deal, at the same time valued the efforts made by Hamas Movement, the Arab Republic of Egypt and all parties that contributed to the success of the deal. Ihsanoglu demanded the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons without condition or preference. Ihsanoglu considered the release of more than a thousand of Palestinians prisoners from Israeli jails a Palestinian success to the file of Palestinian prisoners, in addition to its impact on easing the sufferings of prisoners and their families. The Secretary General stressed that the OIC endeavors for the support of the cause of prisoners and their freedom, and supported their equitable and humanitarian demands, which are guaranteed by all international laws and conventions. He called on the UN Security Council and international human rights organizations to shoulder their responsibilities towards the issue and for their immediate intervention at the level of the Israeli Government to stop persecution of prisoners and to respond to their just demands and rights. The International Committee of the Red Cross continued to call on Israel to allow resumption of the family visit program for Gazans suspended in 2007, after Shalit was captured. An estimated 5000 Palestinian prisoners are still held in Israeli jails according to Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem. "Holding these prisoners and detainees in Israel flagrantly breaches international humanitarian law, which prohibits the transfer of civilians, including prisoners and detainees, from the occupied territory to the territory of the occupying state," according to B'Tselem. Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention stipulates that citizens under military occupation cannot be removed from the occupied territory, thereby prohibiting family member visits. 15 PALESTINE FILE Are �monsters in uniform� the product of education or �mind infection�? Dr. Shaher Awawdeh Dept. of Palestine & Al-Quds, OIC History taught us that when the culture of superiority prevails within a colonial society, horrible outcome becomes quite predictable. The skewed perceptions resulting from this type of culture are likely to justify, for the colonizers, various kinds of evil behaviors against the colonized nations, and more seriously, make the colonial society develop gradual tolerance to the heinous deeds of its own security apparatus against their colonized subjects. In Joseph Conrad's great novella Heart of Darkness, the Belgian colonization in Africa was exposed. In the novella, the white man was depicted as a civilized human being whose noble mission is to carry the torch of enlightenment to primitive Africa. Nevertheless, all kinds of oppression, torture, racism, bigotry and humiliation were committed by the "holders of the torch" against their African victims, simply because the culture of superiority found nothing wrong with all horrible deeds as long as they are directed against the "inferiors". The events of Heart of Darkness are narrated by its main character Charles Marlow who describes different kinds of darkness including the incomprehensible darkness within every man for committing totally reprehensible acts of evil. While the events of Conrad's work take place during the nineteenth century in Brussels and the Congo River, a similar, and perhaps a much worse, Israeli perception continues to justify, for a good part of the Israeli society, a host of heinous acts of evil in Palestine today in the twenty first century. In December 2011, a video featuring Israeli soldiers ruthlessly torturing two handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinians was leaked to several media outlets. The scene shows a behavior that is not unprecedented for the army that is often described by Israel as the "most civilized army". In December 2004, Omar Barghouti published an article titled "The Pianist" of Palestine: Reflections on Israel's Ubiquitous Abuse. The article sets off by expressing the writer's uneasy reaction to the Oscar-winning film "The Pianist" which depicts the "dehumanization of Polish Jews and the impunity of the German occupiers". The uneasy reaction becomes much comprehensible when comparison is made between the main character of "The Pianist", who was forced to play for the soldiers of the Third Reich, with the case of a Palestinian who was videoed while being forced to play violin for Israeli soldiers at a check point in the West Bank. Barghouti mentioned that in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in November 2003, Liran Ron Furer, a staff sergeant in the Israeli army cites how his 16 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 fellow soldiers "degraded and mercilessly beat a Palestinian dwarf just for fun; how they had a "souvenir picture" taken with bloodied, bound civilians whom they had thrashed; how one soldier pissed on the head of a Palestinian man because the latter had "the nerve to smile" at a soldier; how another Palestinian was forced to kneel on his hands and bark like a dog; and how yet another soldier asked Palestinians for cigarettes and when they refused "broke someone's hand" and "slashed their tires." He also describes the gradual transformation of every soldier into an "animal" when staffing a roadblock. He believes that those soldiers get infected with what he calls "checkpoint syndrome," a glaring symptom of which is acting violently towards Palestinians in "the most primal and impulsive manner, without fear of punishment". "At the checkpoint," he explains, "young people have the chance to be masters and using force and violence becomes legitimate."1 The brutality of the above-cited incidents is matched only by the savagery of fanatic Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank. In November 2011, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in occupied Palestinian territory (OCHA) issued a Report on Israeli Settler Violence in the West Bank and maintained that the weekly average of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties and property damage has increased by 40% in 2011 compared to 2010, and by over 165% compared to 2009. In July 2011, and as a result of these attacks, the report mentioned that a community of 127 people was displaced en masse due to repeated settler attacks. It is important to note that most of the armed settler attacks against Palestinian civilians are eye-witnessed and protected by Israeli soldiers and police officers. Most importantly, OCHA report noted that "over 90% of monitored complaints regarding settler violence filed by Palestinians with the Israeli police in recent years have been closed without indictment". 2 Whilst these cruel actions are frequently condemned by the international community, they usually fall on deaf ears of the vast majority of Israelis. The level of indifference that the Israeli society, by and large, shows toward the violent behavior of their own soldiers and fanatic settlers against the Palestinians make the Israelis owe the world an explanation. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, a professor of language and education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, once said "Living at both sides, that of the victims and that of the killers, I keep asking myself, what are the means by which our good Israeli children are turned into murdering monsters, what are the means by which they are so mind-infected as to kill and torture and humiliate other children, their parents and grandparents, and sacrifice their own life for nothing but the folly and megalomania of their chiefs" . 3 In order to find a proper explanation, Nurit studied the content of Israeli schoolbooks for the past five years, and her book, Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education, will be published soon. Nurit describes the racism that young Israelis absorb throughout school years prior to their military service. "Palestinians are defined in Israeli History schoolbooks as a 'problem to be solved". No Israeli schoolbook ever portrays them as modern, productive, individual human beings. Their only representation is the caricaturistic racist icons of primitive nomads and the stereotypical image of the primitive farmers. They are always bare-foot, riding camels, and wear traditional Arab dress, Kafieh or scarf. Arab women represented in Israeli schoolbooks are always squatting or sitting on the ground in what is called "Oriental position", surrounded by numerous indistinct children. They are qualified, as third world people are often qualified in European books, as clannish, unwilling to contribute to the public good, refusing to become modern" 4 She also asks "how else can one explain young people who were educated to love their neighbors as they love themselves killing their neighbors, uprooting their olive trees and their vines, demolishing their houses, poisoning their wells, destroying their educational institutions, their libraries and their hospitals, for no apparent reason other than their being neighbors? The only explanation is that their minds are infected by parents, teachers and leaders, who convince them that the others are not as human as we are, and therefore killing them is not a crime; and indeed the killing of Palestinians always has other legitimating names such as "purifying", "punishment", "operation", "mission", "campaign" and "war". 5 In order to link the outcomes of the current Israeli educational system to a psychological explanation, Nurit makes reference to the human psyche, which according to Dawkins, "has two great sicknesses: the urge to carry vendetta across generations and the tendency to fasten group labels on people rather than see them as individuals" . 6 Racially profiling people becomes possible through an Israeli educational system that facilitates corrupting the minds of schoolchildren. In such atmosphere of hatred spurred by public education, religious incitement could also flourish. For instance, on 29 August 2010, the Associated Press reported that Rabbai Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of (Shas) the hard-line party, said in one of his weekly Sabbath sermons that the "Palestinians and Abbas should "perish from the world". 7 It is important to note that (Shas) holds 11 seats at the Israeli Parliament and is member of the Israeli coalition government with four ministers. (Shas) also runs an independent education system that provides schooling for quarter a million students, funded by the Israeli government with an annual budget of about $100 million dollars. Equally significant, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, who lives in one of the most violent Israeli colonies in the occupied Palestinian territory, is a leading ideologue of the extremist religious settler movement that calls for the use of violent means for the expulsion of Palestinians. His book Torat Hamelech is packed with incitement statements against Palestinians such as there is no "prohibition against killing gentile who violated Laws of Noah'. According to the rabbi, "Anywhere where the presence of a gentile poses a threat to Israel, it is permissible to kill him, even if it is a righteous gentile who is not responsible for the threatening situation." 8 His fanatic followers do not find it inappropriate at all to express their infected minds by writing on the exterior walls of Palestinian mosques, after torching them, a statement such as "a good Arab is the dead Arab". In such an environment, nobody should be caught with surprise that at the peak of the Israeli brutal aggression against Gaza in 20082009-, a poll of Israeli opinion showed a horrifying result: 94% of respondents supported the assault which claimed the lives of hundreds of Palestinian civilians including children and inflected massive destruction on the Palestinian civilian. Therefore, it becomes safe to suggest that it is only the preachers of racism and hate who can produce such indifference and such enormous amount of tolerance to the killing of Palestinians. When the public education system goes hand in glove with the racial teachings of preachers of hatred, disastrous outcomes not only become predictable, but inevitable. By the same token, when chauvinistic discourse prevails, hatred ideologues become front-runners in elections race, and thus pushing hatred up to the place where it should not be: the Parliament. It is the outcome of such environment that Israeli lawmakers easily pass racial laws with remarkably slim opposition. The racially-based hatred emanating from public and religious education systems made Israel form the most right-wing government where a number of its ministers not only reject their country's withdrawal from the lands it occupied in 1967, but also explicitly demand the expulsion of more than twenty percent of Israel's population just because of their Palestinian ethnic background. When looking at the current right-wing-dominated political landscape in Israel, which is an inevitable product of both public and religious education, one can only come to the conclusion that bringing Netanyahu's right-wing coalition to peace negotiations, let a lone the cessation of occupation, is a remote possibility. It is rather mere wishful thinking under the prevailing environment. In conclusion, when the sense of right and wrong is compromised in societies, a serious surgery to the collective conscience of that society becomes imperative. According to Nurit Peled-Elhanan, this is only attainable through overhauling the educational system, given that education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge and values from generation to generation. .............................................................................. (1) http://electronicintifada.net/content/pianist-palestine-reflectionsisraels-ubiquitous-abuse/5336 (2) http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_settler_violence_ FactSheet_October_2011_english.pdf (3) http://www.iip.at/projects/goeab09/GOAB_NuritPeled_Wien.pdf (4) ibid (5) ibid (6) ibid (7) http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_print=1&x_context=2&x_ outlet=8&x_article=1915 (8) http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3925115,00.html 17 PALESTINE FILE More settlement units...A flagrant violation He emphasized that Israel's settlement policy is illegal, a flagrant violation of United Nations resolutions, and a blatant challenge to the will of the international community and the latest statement of the Quartet calling for an end to unilateral measures. In December, the Secretary General again strongly condemned the approval of the Israeli occupation government for the construction of 650 new settlement units and road linking them to occupied Jerusalem. He also condemned Israel's decision to ratify the so-called national garden project, which could cut the link between El-Esaweya, Tur and Sawana Districts adjoining the northeastern walls of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, thereby concluding the cordoning-off of the City of Jerusalem and isolating it from its Palestinian environs. The Secretary General reiterated that East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, and that the illegal settlement aims at perpetuating occupation, and creating facts on the ground by changing the geographical nature and demography in the occupied Palestinian territories and to isolate the city of Al-Quds from its Palestinian surroundings. The Secretary General called upon the UN Security Council and the Quartet Committee to adopt a decisive stand to put an end to such provocative actions and illegal practices in all occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in East Jerusalem city. A site of a new housing unit in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa (epa). Jerusalem � In September the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly condemned decisions by Israel to build 900 new settlement units and another 1100 housing units on lands of the occupied East Jerusalem, considering these acts as a disregard to the international will and flagrant violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. In October, the Secretary General strongly condemned Israel for its decision to build 2610 settlement units on lands in the West Bank, located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. EU External and Security Affairs Chief expresses concern about lack of progress in peace process Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu received a response letter from the High Representative and Vice President of the European Commission for External and Security Affairs, Baroness Catherine Ashton, saying that the European Union and the OIC share the same goal of finding an end to the IsraeliPalestinian conflict through negotiations, leading to two states living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition. The High Representative expressed concern about the lack of progress in the peace process, and confirmed her personal involvement to strongly pursue efforts to revive direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. Besides, the Baroness indicated in her letter that the European Union's position views settlements, including those in east Jerusalem, the separation barrier, where built on occupied lands and the demolition of homes and evictions as illegal under the international law. She stressed that these initiatives run contrary to the current EU and Quartet efforts to bring about the resumption of peace negotiations. Upper Galilee � The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, condemned the burning on October 4, 2011 at dawn of a mosque in the village of Touba Zangaria in Upper Galilee at the hands of a group of Israeli extremist settlers. He qualified this evil aggression as a terrorist act against the freedom of worship and the inviolability of sanctities. The Secretary General stated that the desecration and burning of the mosque and the writing of racist slogans on its walls was 18 Israeli settlers burn a Mosque in Upper Galilee part of the open war waged by extremist settlers against the Palestinian people and their sanctities. He stated that Israel must take all necessary measures to protect holy places and prevent reoccurrence of such serious violations that run counter to international principles and conventions. The Secretary General called upon the international community and human rights organizations to act toward ending such violations that would drag the region into a spiral of violence and tension. the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 WORLD AFFAIRS Ihsanoglu stresses on investing in human capacity building Participants in the Istanbul Conference on Afghanistan agree to cooperate Family photo of participants at Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, 2 November 2011 (epa) Istanbul, Turkey � Participants in the International of rail transportation in the country have been elaborated, as Conference on Afghanistan focused on the country's security evident in the on-going project to build Dushanbe-Mazar-i and economic development as foreign troops prepare to leave Sharif- Herat railway. Similarly, Afghanistan has recently it by the end of 2014. started to participate in the OIC Plan of Action for Cooperation Addressing the conference in Istanbul on November 21, in Central Asia, which entails cooperation in various areas 2011, Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned there would be such as agriculture, rural development and food security, no hope of peace in his war-torn country without help from trade exchanges, health, education, poverty alleviation, regional neighbors. Officials from some 20 countries and aid transport as well as research and scientific cooperation. agencies who attended the conference stressed the need for The OIC has also endeavored to play its role in supporting cooperation, particularly on the question of security. Afghanistan at the international level. The OIC hosted the last "The terrorism, extremism, as well as drugs and human meeting of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan trafficking that Afghanistan is struggling against are not at its headquarters in Jeddah in March 2011. The Afghan problems that one country can deal with on its own," Turkish authorities and other international stakeholders considered President Abdullah Gul said. that meeting as a turning point in collective collaboration on In his statement at the Conference, OIC Secretary General Afghanistan. Furthermore, at their 38th meeting held in Astana Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said that Afghanistan, given its in June 2011, the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers have strategic location and historical position, might in fact serve adopted a specific resolution entitled "Regional Initiatives in as a catalyst for the promotion of security and cooperation in Support of Afghanistan", which extended OIC's full support the region. "We need to continue to invest in human capacity to regional initiatives on Afghanistan to be undertaken by building as well as meaningful economic cooperation to Member States, including Istanbul's conference. pursue concrete projects in critical areas and to advance At a press conference at the end of the Conference with regional trade exchanges," he stressed. Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, Afghan Foreign "As an active partner in regional initiatives, the OIC continues to support and facilitate regional cooperation Minister Zalmai Rassoul said an important step had been aiming at peace, security and development in Afghanistan taken for the region. Dubbed the "Istanbul process," the and the region. Member States of the OIC in the past also agreement, as Rassoul describes it, commits countries in the made contributions in this field and continuing to do so, region to resist becoming safe havens for terrorists. "[The] process will allow countries in the heart of Asia to particularly in intensifying cooperation and dialogue between implement important confidence building measures, toward Afghanistan and her neighbors," added Ihsanoglu. In the aftermath of the Fourth Regional Economic a more effective, broader and deeper regional cooperation Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan, which took place that promotes security, stability and economic development in Istanbul in November 2010, the OIC General Secretariat in our region," said Rassoul. The initiative aims at helping Afghanistan in various has identified the critical sectors for its engagement with other multilateral partners in the economic reconstruction of areas including security, reconstruction, health and the fight Afghanistan. To this end, projects relating to the rehabilitation against trafficking. 19 WORLD AFFAIRS Istanbul, Turkey � Imams and civil society leaders from Extraordinary Session of the OIC Foreign Ministers that every province of Afghanistan met with Islamic scholars took place in Islamabad in January 1980 followed by the from other countries for the first time during the Islamic establishment of the OIC Committee on Afghanistan. Cooperation for a Peaceful Future in Afghanistan conference Besides taking an active role in the international efforts in Istanbul on November 30, 2011. The unprecedented the OIC has been contributing to the socio-economic gathering brought together around 80 Afghan scholars with development and reconstruction of Afghanistan and will over 20 of the world's most prestigious Muftis and Islamic continue to do so. The OIC has also established a special scholars. fund called "OIC Assistant Fund for the Afghan people" with The Conference was an academic forum created by the aim of providing humanitarian relief as well as offering the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict help and assistance in health and education sectors. Resolution (CRDC) at George Mason University, together The OIC has now a Permanent Mission in Kabul. Its with a highly distinguished Afghanistan advisory board, presence will allow the OIC to be more deeply engaged and Marmara University in Turkey and the Grand Mufti of more closely involved with the people and the Government Istanbul. The Conference was designed to foster and provide of Afghanistan and will enhance OIC cooperation with a safe venue for intensive conversations on peace, Islam other regional and international stakeholders stationed in and the future of Afghanistan. The goal of the Conference Afghanistan. is to empower Afghan religious leaders who are committed Ihsanoglu stressed that the OIC is ready to work with to peace and cooperation, and help them create a tolerant concerned parties to contribute to the establishment of a civic space wherein the Afghan people and their leaders can process of national reconciliation through mediation. jointly move toward stability, peace and prosperity. In line with this understanding, the OIC is committed to In his speech at the Conference, the Secretary General of organize an overarching Ulema Conference on Afghanistan the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin in April 2012 with a view to contribute to the reconciliation Ihsanoglu said that religious leaders are also community and process in cooperation with the Afghan High Peace Council opinion leaders. In that respect, each of them is a potential and the Afghan Government. peacemaker, particularly in Afghanistan where the Ulema has the potential to forge the way forward for the Afghan nation. The Secretary General spoke about the efforts and activities of the OIC in forging the way forward for the Ummah towards prosperity and development. However, contributing to the achievement of a lasting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan remains one of its most important priorities. The OIC has always maintained a strong position in supporting Afghanistan and has been engaged in the multiple initiatives and efforts exerted at regional and international levels for almost three decades. Afghans who were displaced during the conflict, The occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet forces on 27 live in temporary shelters in Kabul (epa) December 1979 led to the convening of the first ever OIC Kabul, Afghanistan � World leaders reacted of national reconciliation in Afghanistan. in shock and horror over the assassination of The Secretary General paid tribute to the former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani genuine efforts of late Rabbani in trying to on September 20, 2011 in Kabul. The Secretary achieve national reconciliation through dialogue General of the Organization of the Islamic with all Afghani parties. He also acknowledged his fruitful engagement with the OIC in his Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu joined capacity as Chairman of the High Peace the international community in condemning the assassination of Rabbani. Council especially during the last meeting of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan Afghan police said that a suicide bomber wearing explosives in a turban killed Rabbani. hosted by the OIC at its headquarters in Taleban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed Jeddah. responsibility for the attack outside the residence Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and of Rabbani. Afghan President Hamid Karzai committed Rabbani The Secretary General noted that this ugly to a joint investigation of the assassination on and cowardly terrorist act runs counter to the noble values November 1, following a trilateral summit with Turkish and the teachings of Islam and aims at derailing the process President Abdullah Gul in Istanbul. 20 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 OIC to organize an overarching Ulema Conference on Afghanistan in April Muslim leaders commit to the future of Afghanistan Rabbani assassination shocks world Ihsanoglu and Wulff discuss enhancing OIC-German relations Karzai in Bonn Conference: Afghanistan needs help for another decade OIC Secretary General Ihsanoglu and German President Wulff Berlin, Germany � The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu paid an official visit to Berlin on 6 December 2011 immediately after attending the International Afghanistan Conference held in Bonn on 5 December. During the first official visit ever by the OIC Secretary General to the Federal Republic of Germany, Ihsanoglu was received by President Christian Wulff in his office at the Bellevue Palace where they discussed the ways to further enhance relations between the OIC and Germany. They also exchanged views on combating Islamophobia, peaceful coexistence among religions, promoting tolerance and other issues of mutual concern. Secretary General expressed his appreciation to President Wulff's for his historic Bremen speech after his election as President where he stated that "Islam has now also become part of German identity", as it is the case with Christianity and Judaism. Ihsanoglu underlined the fact that Europe is actually a home, and not a host for the Muslims for centuries. He also stressed the need for achieving historical reconciliation between Islam and Christianity, as it was the case between Islamabad, Pakistan � NATO helicopters and jet fighters attacked two Pakistan army posts along the Afghan border on November 26, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. Following an emergency defense committee meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan issued a statement demanding the US vacate within 15 days the Shamsi Air Base that the CIA is suspected of using for unmanned drones. The US is suspected of using the air base in the past to launch armed drones and observation aircraft to keep pressure on Taleban and Al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan's tribal region. The US said on December 5 that it will vacate the air base. Pakistan also retaliated by shutting down vital NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, used for sending in almost half of the alliance's non-lethal material. Christianity and Judaism. On his part, President Wulff thanked the OIC Secretary General for visit to Germany and indicated the need for the OIC to help people understand the correct image and teachings of Islam in order to promote the culture of tolerance. He also shared the views of the Secretary General on the need to have regular dialogue and enhancement of relations between the OIC and his country. Meanwhile, the Secretary General attended the International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn on 5 December 2011 and made a statement on the OIC's position concerning Afghanistan. In his statement to the Conference, Ihsanoglu elaborated on the OIC's principled position of its enduring support to the Afghan Government and people in their efforts towards building a secure, peaceful and developed country. He emphasized that the OIC will continue rendering its assistance and support to Afghanistan even beyond the year 2014 when the people of Afghanistan will ultimately take full responsibility of their destiny. On the sidelines of the Conference, the Secretary General met some of the high-level dignitaries attending the meeting, including the Foreign Ministers of Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and Iraq. Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the participants that after NATO combat troops withdraw in 2014 that it would need international help for at least another decade. He told around 1000 delegates gathered at the conference that his government would battle corruption and work toward national reconciliation but it needed firm international backing. The German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle insisted there would be no rush to exit. "We send a clear message to the people of Afghanistan: we will not leave you alone, you will not be abandoned," he said. OIC condemns NATO attacks in Pakistan Pakistan also boycotted the international conference on Afghanistan held in Bonn, Germany on December 5. The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu has strongly condemned the NATO attacks against Pakistan. The Secretary General noted that the attacks are indeed serious violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and are totally unacceptable. While conveying his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and the government of Pakistan, he assured Pakistan of the continued solidarity of the OIC and expressed his expectation for the prevention of any recurrence of such incidents. The Secretary General then urged NATO to avoid any action that could further complicate the already dire security situation in the region. 21 WORLD AFFAIRS In Lefkosa: Ihsanoglu reiterates OIC support to TRNC Addresses the Higher Education Forum in Girne member of the OIC under the title of the Turkish Cypriot State. He invited the President and the Foreign Minister of the TRNC to visit the OIC at a convenient time in the near future. During his visit, the Secretary General addressed the Forum and Exhibition on Higher Education Services in OIC Member States held in Girne on 28 November 2011. The Secretary General stated that the share of R&D in the GDP of OIC Member States doubled to reach 0.41% in 2010 compared to 0.2% in 2005. He added that the number of scientific publications in international journals by scientists and engineers of OIC Member States increased from 18,391 in 2000 to 63,342 publications in the previous year. He emphasized that the number of researchers, scientists and engineers engaged in R&D in the OIC Member States has risen from 250 per million in 2003 to 649 per million. However, Ihsanoglu is still aware of the enormity of the task ahead of the Muslim world as higher education and S&T indicators of the OIC Member States still lagging far behind those of developed Western countries. The Secretary General invited the experts and scientists attending the Forum to explore ways and means to strengthen cooperation among public and private higher education institutions in the OIC Member States. He stressed that the Forum could also be utilized to discuss and identify avenues for developing cooperation, networking and partnership between universities and other educational institutions to improve the quality of higher education in the Muslim world. Ihsanoglu highlighted the exhibition organized in parallel to the Forum, and stated that it presents a wide range of facilities and services being offered by the universities in the TRNC. The Secretary General with TRNC President Eroglu Lefkoa, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus � The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu paid an official visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on 27- 29 November 2011. In the beginning of his visit, Secretary General Ihsanoglu was received by H.E. President Dervis Eroglu. On the second day of the visit, he held talks with Dr. Hasan Bozer, Speaker of the Parliament and with Dr. Irsen Kucuk, Prime Minister, and had bilateral meetings with Huseyin Ozgurgun, the Foreign Minister, and Kemal Durust, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports. The Secretary General also paid a courtesy visit to H.E. Rauf Denktas, former President of TRNC, as well as to H.E. Talip Atalay, Head of Religious Affairs of TRNC. Ihsanoglu reiterated the enduring support of the OIC to the Turkish Cypriots in political, economic, social and cultural fields. The Secretary General recalled that TRNC is an observer The blockade makes the OIC our only outlet to the world Nicosia (Lefkoa) � Ayman Abboushi H�seyin �zg�rg�n, Foreign Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), was rather reserved regarding the possibility of reaching a comprehensive settlement at the negotiations that the United Nations (UN) intends to resume January 2012 between the two parts of Cyprus. He considered 2012 the last opportunity to reach a final solution of the Cyprus problem. In an interview with the OIC Journal, he indicated that the chairmanship of the Greek Cyprus of the European Union (EU) in July 2012 and the likely rising of extremist parties to power instead of President Demetres Christofias, the current President of Greek Cyprus, would complicate the chance of reaching a settlement and render it rather impossible. On the other hand, �zg�rg�n indicated that there are seven representative offices of TRNC in the OIC Member States: Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Kyrgyz Republic. He also expressed the desire of TRNC, 22 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 2012 is the last opportunity for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem H�seyin �zg�rg�n, Foreign Minister of TRNC: which has observer status at the OIC, to attract the investments of the OIC Member States being the only commercial outlet for TRNC. He also called for the need that these countries raise the blockade imposed on TRNC, particularly with respect to sports and social events. How do you assess the cooperation between TRNC and the OIC and what are the opportunities of mutual benefit? After the 2004 referendum in TRNC, the OIC decided to grant Turkish Cyprus the status of observer under the name of TRNC. Since then cooperation commenced with the OIC and its various organs and institutions in various fields, such as agriculture, education, and health and we seek to consolidate this cooperation. TRNC has representative offices in five OIC-GCC Member States. Do you think that such relations with rich countries are a portal for more investments in TRNC? The economic cooperation with these countries is still not enough. We really need more cooperation with these countries that have high economic potentialities and we try to improve our economic cooperation with them. Do you consider investment as a priority in TRNC-OIC Member States cooperation? Our priority is cooperation in higher education, especially that the Higher Education Forum is held here. As you know, TRNC is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and this makes tourism one of the main pillars of its economy. Therefore, we intend to promote cooperation with the OIC Member States in the areas of higher education and tourism in addition to social and sports events, especially under the blockade that prevents such events to be held in TRNC. Although some EU members have tried to raise this blockade, they could not. Therefore, I expect and hope that the OIC Member States do so, at least with respect to social and sports events and hold them on our land. How many students from the OIC Member States study at your six universities? 15 thousand students. What are the other projects you plan to implement in the context of cooperation with the OIC? In light of the reticence of the EU states to cooperate with us, cooperation with the OIC Member States remains the only available chance for us. Within the context of the extension of the water pipeline from Turkey to provide TRNC with its water needs, we are keen to host meetings on agricultural cooperation with the OIC. Agriculture is the third best area for cooperation after higher education and tourism. In any case, the OIC remains our last resort for us to achieve economic cooperation with the world. The Islamic Development Bank announced that it would hold an investment conference in TRNC during the first half of 2012. How do you see theis conference, especially with the invitation of the private sector to attend? Actually, this conference is beneficial to us and shall be a very good opportunity. The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is a connection link to attract economic investments from Islamic countries to TRNC and this conference shall consolidate bilateral communications. On the political side, how do you see the developments in the Middle East and the emergence of democracies in several countries in the region? Do you think this would be a motive for these countries to recognize TRNC? We see these movements from a different perspective because we have been striving to obtain independent existence and equal political rights since the fifties of the last century. These movements in the Arab world are a hope for us because they are grass root movements and when Muslim peoples come to power, I think they shall have more sympathy with the Muslim Turkish people in Northern Cyprus. The UN Secretary General seeks to resume negotiations between the two parts of Cyprus next January. Are you optimistic regarding these negotiations? What is the ceiling of your demands and your vision in this regard? I would like to be optimistic but I do not know how. These negotiations started in 1968 but we have not reached a settlement so far. I hope the Greek Cypriots comprehend that reaching a comprehensive settlement shall be mutually beneficial. Before 1974, Turkish Cypriots were targets for killing and forced deportations from their villages. Had it not been for the intervention of Turkey, no single Turkish Cypriot would have remained on the Island. Now, I hope the Greek Cypriots understand that such a comprehensive settlement would reflect positively on the economic situation of the Island, particularly tourism. I would like here to assert that TRNC is deeply interested in reaching a settlement of the Cyprus problem. We agreed to all efforts exerted to put an end to the disagreement. As for the question about our dim hope in reaching a settlement, this is actually because the Southern part of the Island is always repeating that Cyprus is a Greek Island and that Turkish Cypriots are just a minority. However, this is a totally unacceptable attitude on our part as we insist on equal political rights for both peoples. Moreover, the Greek Cypriots repeats that Turkish Cyprus is occupied but this is untrue because we have been living on the Island since 1571 and there were no migrations to Turkey. If they change this mentality and accept us as equal partners entitled to equal political rights as we demand, we shall be ready to sign the settlement. However, up till now, the situation seems impossible because of the Greek Cypriots' attitude. What are the controversial issues that prevent the conclusion of a settlement? There are six controversial issues: participation in power and ruling; EU-related issues; economic issues; property ownership; security guarantees; and the issue of land which cannot be discussed until the other issues have been settled. Although there is a general consensus on the issues related to the EU, economy, and the Central Bank, there is disagreement on the other issues. In fact, there are many obstacles that face the settlement and the main problem comes from the Greek Cypriots and is focused on who should rule the Island. Although the share of the Turkish Cypriots in the government was three ministers compared to seven Greek Cypriots in 1963, the Greek Cypriots still insist on not accepting even this meager contribution to administration. Have you received any direct or indirect messages from the Greek Cypriots regarding the possibility to achieve any progress in the coming negotiations? Since 2003, borders were opened between both parts of the Island and movement became quite easy but mutual communications have not been more than 10% because of the pressures of the Church and the extremist powers on the Greek Cypriot President Demetres Christofias. The fact is that it is impossible for us to conclude a settlement with the other parties in Greek Cyprus, such as the Democratic Party (DIKO) and the Democratic Rally (DISI). If we take into consideration the elections to be held in Southern Cyprus in 2013 and the unlikely re-election of President Christofias because of the economic problems therein, we then should reach a settlement before that. I think this would be impossible after 2013 especially that Greek Cyprus shall chair the EU at that time despite our objection and confirmation that that would neither bring peace nor economic prosperity to the entire Island. Then, you think that 2012 is the last chance to reach a comprehensive settlement with Greek Cyprus? Yes, I believe it is the last chance, especially that Greek Cypriots shall chair the EU and I do not know whether they shall then be interested in reaching a settlement with us or not. 23 WORLD AFFAIRS Tunis holds its first free elections it together and no tradition of fair elections. He added that he was going to ask the new assembly to make the election commission a permanent feature to manage future contests. "We must preserve this achievement which will guarantee the rotation of power in coming elections," he said. The Electoral Observation Mission of the OIC, paid a strong and well-deserved high tribute to the Interim Supreme Authorities of the Republic of Tunisia, to the Independent High Authority for the Elections and to all the people of Tunisia who have been quick to comprehend the real stakes of the electoral exercise of October 23. In its capacity as an international observer team, the OIC delegation held several high-level contacts with proper Tunisian authorities prior to the Election Day and observed the full ballot process in many ballot stations covering the governorates (counties) of Tunis, Ariana, Manouba, Ben Arous, Bizerta and Nabeul. In this respect, the Observation Mission has witnessed, first hand, the vast participation, the discipline and the determination of all the electorate of both genders who have queued patiently for hours to fulfill their civic duty. The OIC expressed its contentment that all Tunisian concerned parties have accepted, unequivocally, the results of the vote and trust that they will focus their resolute attention on the future and embrace an inclusive collective endeavor for the consolidation of the pillars of democracy through good governance, the state of law and the promotion of justice and equity, which are the real building blocks of peace, security, economic development and social prosperity. In November, the three Tunisian new President main parties from the Moncef Marzouki takes elections struck a powerthe oath at the Constituent sharing deal. The new Prime Assembly in Tunis, Tunisia, Minister is Hamadi Jebali, 13 December 2011 (epa). the Secretary General and spokesman of Ennahda Party, while Moncef Marzouki of the Congress for the Republic Party is President and Mustapha Ben Jaafar of Ettakatol Party would occupy the third key post, President of the Constituent Assembly. Tunisia, Tunis � The country that sparked the Arab revolts in the region led the way in holding a truly fair, free and transparent assembly election for the first time. In a joyous, determined and optimistic atmosphere, people of all ages and backgrounds stood in long lines to cast their vote on October 23, 2011. A team of OIC observers monitored this historic election for the National Constituent Assembly. The OIC observers noted with satisfaction that the elections were held in a free, fair, democratic and transparent manner and voters' turnout was high. Besides, Tunisian people displayed a great sense of historic responsibility on the day of elections and showed the world their euphoria, exaltation and firm resolve to stand along the principles of democracy, rule of law, peaceful coexistence and good governance. The final results for the elections gave Ennahda Party (a conservative Islamic party) 89 out of 217 seats, more than triple the next biggest vote getter. In polls described by international observers as free and fair, Tunisians elected an assembly that will write the fledgling democracy's new constitution and appoint an interim government ahead of new elections in the next year or so. The elections were held nine months after Tunisians overthrew President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled with an iron fist for the past 23 years. Out of a potential electorate of 7.5 million voters, 54 percent participated in the election - almost all of those who had registered. Election head Kamel Jendoubi said the commission had "clearly contributed to restoring the trust of Tunisians in their electoral process," despite only having four months to get Cairo, Egypt � Turnout in the opening phase of Egypt's first post-revolution election was 62 percent � the highest in the country's history. Election commission head Abdel Moez Ibrahim said in a press conference on December 2, 2011 that 8.5 million people had cast their ballots. The Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood � won a majority of the seats in the run-off elections, which would give it at least 40 percent in Parliament. The ultraconservative Al-Nour Party came 24 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 Highest ever turnout in Egypt's first post-revolution election in second winning nearly a quarter of the ballots cast in late November. The voting for the 498-member elected Parliament is staggered over three stages, with two-thirds of the country yet to cast ballots. The voting process ends in January 2012. Meanwhile, military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi swore in a new cabinet on December 7 including new Prime Minister Kamel Al-Ganzouri and a former police chief to head the interior ministry. Omanis rejoicing after constitutional amendments The new amendments give new competencies to the designated "State Chamber" and the elected "Shura Chamber", which include the need for their joint approval of any act that may be proposed by the ministerial council before it is submitted to the Sultan to be issued as an enforceable law. These amendments also gave the Sultan the right to dissolve the Shura Council at his discretion and to call for new elections within four months of the dissolution. A right which, according to jurists, may be resorted to by the Sultan in case the council insisted on obstructing a law which the Government might wish to pass, as the amendments allow the Sultan to issue decrees carrying the weight of laws, during the Council's dissolution. Although most of the claims made by the demonstrators in the Sultanate of Oman during the months of March and April were of economic character, they also included demands for political reform including granting the Shura Council legislative and supervisory competencies, demands which have promptly been met by Sultan Qabus last April. Yet the competencies accorded thus to the Shura Council remained unknown till after the elections of the Council itself in mid-November with the enactment of a Sultan-approved decree that introduced amendments in the Statute giving broader competencies to the Omani Council. Thus the Omani citizens who had previously felt concern as to the awaited amendments were now reassured and comforted that their demands had been met and that Sultan Qabus's support for the youth and their forward-looking aspirations was being upheld. Muscat, Oman (dpa) � A host of Omani literati and academics considered the Constitution-based amendment of the Statute in the Sultanate of Oman as a major watershed on the way to the consolidation of democratic life in the Sultanate of Oman. The country has witnessed early this year a string of demonstrations, in synchrony with the uprisings and demonstrations witnessed around the Arab world, under what has come to be known as "the Arab Spring". The amendments in the prerogatives of the Omani Council, comprised of two chambers: the elected "Shura chamber" and the designated "State Chamber", have had a media and popular resonance beyond that achieved by the new mechanism for the transition of rule. Sultan Qabus Bin Saeed of Oman had initiated an amendment which Omanis saw as crucial to the States' Statute. The key amendment has to do with the substance of Article VI which defines the manner in which the new Sultan may be designated in case of a vacancy. The amended text stipulates that the ruling family's council would select a Sultan for the country within three days of the vacancy of the office, failing which the defense council, would then proceed in presence of the Chairmen of the Shura and State Chambers (The Parliament) and that of the head of the Supreme Court and his two senior most assistants, to establish the person whose name appears in the Sultan's "Will". The difference being that, previously it was the defense council which exclusively established the instructions left in the "Will" which, so it is reported, was displayed at a prominent place in the Palace. The new amendments do no make reference to the designation of a crown prince, in harmony with ancestral Omani tradition, which does not provide for the office of a crown prince, and in favor of the ruling family electing a successor to the Sultan among its own members. Rabat, Morocco � In a landmark parliamentary election held on November 25, 2011, Morocco's moderate religious bloc won the most seats. The Justice and Development Party (PJD) captured 80 seats in the 395-seat assembly, nearly double the 45 seats won by Prime Minister Abbas El-Fassi's Independence Party, the Interior Minister announced. According to the new constitution overwhelmingly approved in a July referendum, King Mohammed had to pick the premier from the party that won the most seats instead of naming whoever he pleases. The King later named PJD Secretary General Abdelilah Benkirane as Prime Abdelilah Benkiran, leader of PJD Minister. (Justice and Development party) (epa). 25 Morocco holds elections under new constitution WORLD AFFAIRS Libya declares liberation after Qaddafi's death Benghazi, Libya � Libya declared itself liberated on October 23, 2011 after 42 years of rule by Muammar Qaddafi ended with his capture and death on October 20. Jubilations broke out as an official from the interim National Transitional Council (NTC) announced the country had freed itself completely from Qaddafi's rule. The NTC had said that Libya's liberation would be announced as soon as Sirte, Qaddafi's hometown and last bastion, fell. After the fall of the capital Tripoli on August 21, Sirte has been under siege by NTC forces. Qaddafi, who vowed to fight to the end, was found hiding in a drainpipe after fleeing Sirte. Libya erupted into wild celebrations on October 20 as the news spread that Qaddafi had been killed. He died in chaotic circumstances after video footage showed him bloodied and struggling at the hands of his captures. Details of how he died are hazy. His body was taken to Misrata, home of the brigade that captured Sirte. It was put on display there in a market freezer for people to see for days. His son Mutassim had also been killed with him. Later his body along with Mutassim's and ex-defense minister Abu Bakr Yunis Jaber were buried overnight in a secret location after a religious ceremony was performed. Libya's interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said a commission of inquiry is to probe the killing after foreign governments and rights group raised questions. The UN human rights office welcomed the announcement. The OIC Secretary General extended congratulations to the people of Libya on the success of their revolution and the victory of their free will. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu emphasized that the OIC, which stood by the Libyan people since the launch of their blessed revolution on 17 February 2011 highly values their huge sacrifices to achieve their democratic aspirations. He therefore urged them at this critical juncture in their history to maintain their national and territorial unity and to rally round the NTC in its march to establish a system based on justice and equality. The Secretary General warned about the consequences of resorting to reprisals or arms anarchy following the fall of the Qaddafi regime, at a time when Libya needs peace the most to sort out its internal affairs and entrust the country's affairs to wise and honest people. He pleaded that Libya's interest should come first rather than regionalism or sectional interests. Ihsanoglu reiterated the OIC's full support for the NTC in the efforts to rebuild Libya and lay the rules for good governance and rights promotion. In Tripoli: Ihsanoglu meets with Libyan Leaders, signs cooperation agreement During the meeting, Abdul Jalil reiterated his county's gratitude for the OIC's stand, which he described as having been in the forefront with its support for the Libyan revolution through its historical communiqu�, a support that was kept up until the revolution achieved its goals and its victory became a reality. He further expressed his great expectations as to increased cooperation with the OIC in the times ahead. Ihsanoglu, in turn, stressed the Organization's continued support to the new Libya, and its revolution. He called on Libyans to rally around this achievement. He also congratulated Abdul Jalil for his role in leading Libya at this critical juncture. The Secretary General also met with the Libyan Prime Minister, Abdurrahim El-Keib, and briefed him on aspects of cooperation that the OIC wishes to engage in through its affiliated institutions. At the conclusion of his two-day visit, Ihsanoglu met the Libyan Foreign Minister, Ashour Ben Khayal. The two sides signed a cooperation program in a number of areas. During his visit, the OIC Secretary General had also met members of the Council of Ministers, and the 52 members of the Transitional National Assembly (TNA) at the TNA headquarters at the invitation of the Chairman of the Transitional Council. He addressed them reiterating the OIC support to Libya, and inviting them to stand united in the face of the challenges confronting their country in the period ahead. Ihsanoglu with Abdul Jalil in Tripoli Tripoli, Libya � Ekmelddin Ihsangulu, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, concluded on December 15, 2011, a visit to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, during which he expressed his endorsement for the new Libyan leadership in the stages ahead. He also expressed his support for the steps undertaken by the Libyan National Transitional Council, particularly its engagement on the democratic pathway. He extended his congratulations to the Libyan people in general for the triumph of the February 17 revolution. The OIC Secretary General met on December 14, 2011, with Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Chairman of the Libyan National Transitional Council, and reviewed with him the prospects of coordinating relations between Libya and the OIC and the possible assistance in favor of Libya's greater involvement in joint Islamic action. 26 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 Saudi Crown Prince Sultan dies, Prince Naif named Crown Prince Riyadh, Saudi Arabia � Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense and Aviation, died on October 22, 2011 outside the Kingdom following a prolonged illness. He was 80. His body was flown from New York to Riyadh for burial. The Royal Court's announcement commended Prince Sultan's contributions toward ensuring the progress and prosperity Prince Sultan of the Kingdom. Prince Sultan, a half brother of King Abdullah, served as Saudi Arabia's defense minister for nearly five decades. A humanitarian, Prince Sultan (may Allah bless him with mercy and forgiveness) was a great Muslim leader and worked for the success of Arab and Muslim causes. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in a statement, expressed deep sorrow over the demise of "one of the great sagacious leaders of the Islamic Ummah, who had devoted his generosity-marked life in the service of his nation and the Islamic Ummah." Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah together with a large number of Saudi royals, heads of state and high-ranking officials from around the world including the OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu bade farewell to the late Crown Prince Sultan on October 25 in Riyadh. King Abdullah performed funeral prayers with the mourners at Prince Naif the jammed Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque and then the body of the Crown Prince was buried at the Al-Oud Cemetery. King Abdullah issued a decree on October 27 naming Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz, 78, as Crown Prince. Prince Naif was also appointed Deputy Prime Minister and retained his previous position as Interior Minister. OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu sent a cable of congratulations to HRH Prince Naif on this occasion. Saudi King grants women political participation Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - The King of Saudi Arabia announced on September 25, 2011 that women would be given the right to vote and stand in elections. In his fiveminute speech to the Shura Council aired on state television, King Abdullah said women would be permitted join the unelected advisory Shura Council, which vets legislation although it has no binding powers. "Because we refuse to marginalize women in society in all roles that comply with sharia (Islamic law), we have decided, after deliberation with our senior ulama (clerics) and others... to involve women in the Shura Council as members, starting from the next term," he said. He also granted women the right to vote and run in the next municipal elections. "Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote." The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu commended the historical decisions announced by the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, which opened the door for Saudi women's political participation. The Secretary General stated that the OIC highly praised the bold decisions taken within the framework of reform and modernization process led by the Custodian of the Two Holly Mosques since assuming leadership of Saudi Arabia. The Secretary General recalled, in this regard, King Abdullah's pivotal role in the Extraordinary Summit held in Mecca in 2005, which adopted the Ten Year Program of Action that calls for reform and modernization in the Muslim world, and which emphasizes "reinforcing laws that aim to the advancement of women in Muslim society in the economic, cultural, social and political fields, and to provide them protection against all forms of violence and discrimination". Manama, Bahrain � King Hamad of Bahrain pledged reforms on November 23, 2011 after a commission of inquiry submitted its report to him. Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu welcomed the statement delivered by His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa following the release of the final report of the fact-finding commission on the regrettable events witnessed in the country in February and March 2011. The King's Bahrain King pledges reform after the release of fact-finding commission report statement reflected a distinct determination to strengthen reform process and human rights in Bahrain. The Secretary General praised the decision of the Monarch to constitute a government work group to study the recommendations and outcomes contained in the report in order to set the stage for implementing the reforms as well as for reconciliation and dialogue. The Secretary General also expressed the hope that demands for reform and participation of the Bahraini people would be met. 27 WORLD AFFAIRS Yemeni President sign power handover agreement Riyadh, Saudi Arabia � Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed a landmark agreement in Riyadh on November 23, 2011 to hand over power after 33 years in office. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, who witnessed the GCC initiative with GCC foreign ministers and other dignitaries, said the agreement would open a new era of peace in Yemen. The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu welcomed with deep satisfaction the signing of the Gulf Cooperation Council's Initiative to end the crisis in Yemen by President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Yemen's opposition. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu has called upon all political parties in Yemen to implement the agreement and to honor their commitments in order to facilitate peaceful transition of power in Yemen for the country's security and stability and the prosperity of its people. He commended the pivotal role played by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz, in bringing to a successful conclusion the power handover agreement on Yemen. The Secretary General recalled in this regard the continuous efforts that the OIC has been putting in since the outbreak of the Yemen crisis in order to reach a peaceful solution as well as the consultation and coordination between the OIC and the GCC on the issue. Under the agreement President Saleh will hand power to Vice President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi in return for immunity from prosecution for him and his family. Hadi would form a new government with the opposition and call for an early presidential election within three months. Saleh will remain honorary president for 90 days. Representatives of Yemen's ruling party and the opposition also signed the agreement, which is intended to end 10 months of deadly violence in the country. First Arab woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 influence developments at all levels of society." The 10 million kronor ($1.5 million) award was split three ways between Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, women>s rights activist Leymah Gbowee from the same African country and democracy activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen -- the first Arab woman to win the prize. Karman is a mother of three who heads the human rights group Women Journalists without Chains. She has been a leading figure in organizing, against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the protests that kicked off in late January. In the citation of the award, it was stated: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Africa's first democratically elected female president. Since her inauguration in 2006, she has contributed to securing peace in Liberia, to promoting economic and social development, and to strengthening the position of women. Leymah Gbowee mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia, and to ensure women's participation in elections. She has since worked to enhance the influence of women in West Africa during and after war. In the most trying circumstances, both before and during the "Arab spring", Tawakkul Karman has played a leading part in the struggle for women's rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen. Nobel Peace Prize laureates (L-R), Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, human rights activist Tawakul Karman from Yemen, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Oslo, Norway, 10 December 2011 (epa). Oslo, Norway � The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 is to be divided in three equal parts between Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work. In a statement released on October 7, 2011 the Committee said: "We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to 28 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the OIC Bakyt Batyrshayev: Developing friendly relationship and sustainable collaboration with the Islamic world a priority for Kazakhstan Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - The OIC Journal interviewed the Kazakh Permanent Representative to the OIC during one of his many visits. Kazakhstan is among a handful of the OIC Member States, which have a full-fledged Permanent Mission to the OIC. What is the role and duties of the Kazakh Mission to the OIC? First of all, the very existence of the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the OIC is indeed to be regarded as a genuine and unequivocal manifestation of considerable significance that our country attaches to cooperation with the Islamic World, and with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in particular. The development of friendly relationship and sustainable collaboration with the Islamic world has always been among the top priorities of the Kazakh foreign policy. But the Chairmanship of Kazakhstan of the Council of Foreign Ministers of OIC gained extraordinary importance for our country, particularly during a year of well-known political turbulence in parts of the Islamic world. Certainly, the combination of all these factors led to the establishment of the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the OIC in Jeddah, to make the implementation of our Chairmanship duties more effective and fruitful. What are Kazakhstan's proposals for strengthening relations with the OIC and other Member States? In the last sixteen years of membership in the OIC, Kazakhstan achieved a high level of cooperation, both with the Organization itself, as well as with its Institutions. The significance for Kazakhstan of cooperation with the Islamic world and the OIC in particular is not just a declaration; it is well illustrated by tangible deeds and proposals of Kazakhstan to make the Islamic Ummah more competitive and influential globally. For instance, the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev stated in his Address at the last 38th session of the OIC Member States Foreign Ministers Council in Astana in late June of 2011 that it was of vital importance to increase the competitiveness of the OIC and every Member State in the modern-day world. Following the achievement of this ambitious goal Kazakhstan made several proposals. First of all, we suggested elaborating an integrated development strategy for the OIC states. Furthermore, the President of Kazakhstan proposed to establish a regularly working mechanism for the dialogue among top ten Islamic economies, because only 10 out of 57 OIC Member States produce 80 percent of products from the entire Muslim community. Kazakhstan also suggested creating a secure food supplies system within the OIC, analogous to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This proposal is now steadily being implemented and deserves a wide support among the OIC Member States. The final Declaration of the 27th session of the Standing Committee on Economic and Trade Cooperation of the OIC (COMCEC), held in Istanbul in October, 2011, approved the proposal to establish the OIC Office on Food Security in Kazakhstan. But there is still a lot to do in order to make this idea as an undeniable reality, and we are working hard on that. In general, Kazakhstan does and will continue to do its best, trying to contribute to putting the Islamic World in line with its enormous economic and intellectual potential. Kazakhstan is chairing the OIC during a year that is full of changes and developments in the Muslim world. How is Kazakhstan dealing with this as Chair? Indeed the Chairmanship of Kazakhstan in the OIC coincided with massive socio-political unrest within the OIC area in the Middle East and North Africa. The events in Tunisia, Libya, Syria, and other countries are under the constant attention and scrutiny of the Kazakh Chairmanship. As Chair, Kazakhstan is deeply involved in a working decision-making process on making the OIC stance towards all these events and changes adequate and clear. This could be seen, for instance, at the Kazakh-chaired Annual Coordination Meeting of OIC Ministers for Foreign Affairs in New York in late September, 2011. In October, my colleagues and I were part of the OIC mission to observe the first parliamentary elections in Tunisia under new power authorities. Late November 2011 was also marked by the extraordinary open-ended meeting of the OIC Executive Committee to discuss the latest developments in Syria. I would like also to add that Kazakhstan does its best to activate and modernize the OIC. In particular, we are trying to reignite the OIC bodies' work, among which I can mention the OIC Executive Committees and the Permanent Representatives Committee. And in doing all of this Kazakhstan is constantly supported by the OIC General Secretariat. Indeed, Kazakhstan as the OIC Chair tries to remain responsive as much as possible, keeping the OIC involved in any large-scale events, which demand the Islamic solidarity. How does Kazakhstan view OIC's current role in serving the Muslim Ummah and in the world stage, and what suggestions or proposals does Kazakhstan have for the OIC improve this role? First of all as a principal worldwide defender of Islamic Ummah interests, the OIC must be actively involved into generating new proposals and decision-making process at the global level. In this regard, the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev suggested that the OIC Member State representative to participate regularly at G-20 Summits with the aim of addressing the OIC related issues. The implementation of this idea in practice would undoubtedly increase the OIC status in global politics and possibly lead to more successful representation of the Islamic world interests at the global scale. There is no shortage of ideas and perspective projects. They only need implementation. In this regard, I would like to mark the enormous contributions made by the Secretary General of the OIC, Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. 29 WORLD AFFAIRS Ihsanoglu calls on the Member States to shoulder their responsibilities Stop Immediately the Use of Excessive a solution to the crisis, pointing out that it has exhausted all mechanisms and jurisdictions in several attempts to bridge the gap, prevent bloodshed and establish truth until it called for the convening of this meeting. He stressed that the OIC urges its Member States to assume historic responsibilities, demanding a clear position which differentiates between the past and present through implementable recommendations that contribute to finding a solution of compromise to the Syrian crisis within the principles of Islamic solidarity. Ihsanoglu emphasized that in his capacity as OIC Secretary General, since the outbreak of the crisis he followed a quiet diplomatic approach out of the OIC's commitment to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of the Member States. He reiterated the position of the Organization that refuses military intervention in the crisis, and adheres to the need of respecting the sovereignty, independence and unity of Syria, as well as the need to stop bloodshed and restoring security and stability, and to follow the path of reform to achieve the hopes and aspirations of the Syrian people. He emphasized his rejection of the internationalization of the Syrian crisis. The final Communiqu� welcomed the efforts deployed by the League of Arab States in a bid to resolve the Syrian crisis peacefully, and called on Damascus to respond to the related resolutions of the Arab League. The Executive Committee meeting also called on the Syrian authorities to alleviate humanitarian suffering in the affected areas, and to allow access to the Islamic and international humanitarian agencies. The Committee condemned the attacks targeting the premises of foreign embassies and diplomatic missions in Syria, and urged the Syrian authorities to duly carry out their responsibilities for the protection of foreign diplomatic missions in compliance with the international law. Opposite views At the emergency meeting of the OIC Executive Committee on the situation in Syria, opposite views were expressed on approaching the issue. While Iran favored giving the Syrian Government more time to resolve the crisis, Turkey and many of the other participants urged for immediate end to the violence and the implementation of reforms. 32 Member States, 11 of them represented by the foreign minister including Syria, Qatar, Iran, Turkey, Senegal, Damascus called on to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � Maha Akeel The Executive Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which met at the Foreign Ministers level, expressed its grave concern at the deteriorating situation in Syria and expressed profound regret at the loss of human lives and properties. In its final Communiqu�, which was issued at the end of its meeting on 30 November 2011 at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah, the OIC urged the Syrian authorities to immediately end the use of excessive force against Syrian nationals and to fully respect human rights and to comply with their obligations under the OIC Charter. The Communiqu� also urged the Syrian government to fulfill its commitments to reform and to respond to the legitimate aspirations and demands of Syrian people. The Foreign Ministers called on all Syrian stakeholders to shun the path of violence and resort to the peaceful means of dialogue and negotiations to settle the crisis. In his speech at the opening session, the Secretary General of the OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu stressed that the OIC has not deviated from its firm position on the implications and developments in Syria, which was clearly reflected in all the press releases issued by the OIC since the beginning of the crisis and up to now. He noted that the continued adoption of a security and military approach against peaceful civilian demonstrators calling for more democracy and political freedom and economic and social development, is a method that proved to be unable to contain the crisis and will only lead to the fall of more innocent victims and complicate the internal position. The OIC Secretary General addressed the participants stressing that, over the past months, the OIC General Secretariat has done all that it could to contribute towards 30 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 Force and Respect Human Rights Prince Turki Saudi Arabia Minister Amr Egypt Minister Al-Muallem Syria Minister Hamad Qatar Minister Davutoglu Turkey Minister Salehi Iran Kazakhstan, Chad, and Egypt, attended the meeting. The meeting was attended by Syrian Foreign Minister Speaking to the OIC Journal at the end of the meeting, Walid Muallem who gave a government version of the Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran is situation in Syria, saying his country was the victim of not defending the Syrian Government, rather, it is a matter of terrorist operations. He also pointed out that the Assad principle, which is that Iran supports the legitimate demands government was working on a modern constitution as part of people uprising in any country and the government of of new political reforms. that country should comply with those demands, but Iran is The final communiqu� of the meeting voiced grave against interferences in the internal affairs of those countries. concern over the deteriorating situation in Syria and regretted He questioned the haste and urgency in taking action against the loss of lives. The ministers urged Damascus to carry out Syria when it has already declared that it will deliver on political reforms in line with the hopes and aspirations and reforms, revise its constitution and allow elections. He does legitimate demands of the Syrian people. not think that the approach taken is conducive to resolving The meeting called upon all parties to relinquish the problem but will perhaps complicate it further. He also violence and resort to peaceful means such as dialogue and warned of the possible consequences if a power vacuum is negotiations to end the crisis. It also welcomed the Arab created in Syria. He suggested that a committee be formed- League's efforts to find a peaceful solution for the Syrian headed by the OIC Secretary General- follow up the matter issue, and encouraged the Syrian Government to sign the and work to bring all the factions together for dialogue to Protocol presented by the Arab League. resolve the issue. The Syrian and Iranian delegations expressed reservations The Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on some points of the communiqu�. meanwhile said to the OIC Journal that the outcome of Syria signed the Arab League protocol on December 19 to the meeting gives the right message to the Syrian regime. allow observers into the country, to monitor implementation "We hope that the Syrian administration will consider this of a peace deal in which it pledged to stop violence against friendly, brotherly advice and warning, and we will continue demonstrators, pull troops out of cities and free thousands to follow up on it," he added. of political prisoners. However, the violence continued and The Qatari Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad OIC kept reiterating its call to end the violence and launch bin Jassem Al-Thani commented that the OIC position is a dialgue. clear and resembles that of the Arab League. Under the terms of an Arab League deal aimed at ending the violence, Syria agreed to Arab League observers speaking to an injured man in a hospital in Syria (epa) withdraw the army from urban areas, release political prisoners, launch a dialogue with the opposition and admit foreign observers. The Arab League, a few days before the OIC meeting, approved sweeping sanctions against Assad's government over the crackdown. The measures include an immediate ban on transactions with Damascus and its central bank and a freeze on Syrian government assets in Arab countries. They also bar Syrian officials from visiting Arab countries and a possible call for suspension of all flights from Arab states to be implemented on a date to be set next week. 31 HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS The OIC and the UN Sign a MoU for cooperation in humanitarian action Recovery Stage Commences following the Success The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), collaboration with the Saudi based Doctors Across Continents represented by Humanitarian Affairs Department, commenced Foundation and other OIC partners specialized in the health the `recovery phase' in Somalia according to a one-year plan sector, active in Somalia. The delegation also signed an that started last October after the huge success of the emergency agreement to develop The Somali Disaster Management phase launched last August/ Ramadan. Corporation to oversee disasters and crises management. For this purpose, the OIC held a conference under the Cooperation with the UN theme Water for Life in Somalia in Cairo, Egypt on 5th of In the same regard, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary October 2011. This Conference, aimed to drill boreholes for drinking water in Somalia, exceeded the OIC ceiling for the General of the OIC, and Valerie Amos, United Nations Underoverall required pledges for drilling of boreholes. The purpose Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, signed a Memorandum of the boreholes is to face the acute water shortage that led to of Understanding (MoU) on 14th of November 2011, for the famine during summer of last year, resulting in heavy death coordination of humanitarian action and cooperation in world toll of both humans and livestock. disaster-affected areas. This MoU is a quality leap in OIC The Conference, held pursuant to the directives of the OIC humanitarian action and a qualitative shift that reflects the Secretary General, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, issued a declaration confidence of the international community in the OIC relief of drilling 652 boreholes in eleven provinces in Somalia at a work shortly after its humanitarian activities in Somalia, which total cost of US$ 82 million. formed the acme of its success in this area. The OIC had proposed to 32 non-governmental relief International Attention organizations that participated in the Conference, to drill 218 In light of the international attention to the growing role boreholes at a total cost of up to US$ 36 million to meet the minimum needs of water for Somali people, but the number of the OIC in the African Horn and the highly significant was redoubled giving a strong impetus to the OIC action in human plans executed in Somalia, Ambassador Bakhit, met in his office in Jeddah on October 9, 2011, Nancy Lindberg, Somalia. Chairman of the Conference, OIC Assistant Secretary Assistant Director General of the United States Agency for General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ambassador Atta El International Development (USAID) and Rashad Hussein, Mannan Bakhit, considered the generous response of the non- Envoy of the U.S. President to the OIC. Ambassador Bakhit governmental organizations as a testimony for the success briefed the U.S. delegation on the OIC humanitarian activities of the OIC campaign that had started with the declaration in the OIC Member States, as well as on the current situation of Days of Giving alliance of 27 humanitarian organizations in Somalia and the efforts of the OIC Humanitarian Alliance in aimed to provide emergency food assistance to those affected dealing with the critical humanitarian conditions in Somalia. by drought. Both sides discussed prospects of joint cooperation in The abovementioned 27 organizations pledged to dig the Somalia in the coming period. The U.S. delegation also boreholes in one year. Ambassador Bakhit expressed thanks discussed with Ambassador Bakhit ways of cooperation with and gratitude to the organizations that agreed to contribute the OIC in other affected Islamic countries. to the OIC efforts to begin the recovery phase. Ambassador Bakhit extended special thanks to the Saudi National Campaign Fruitful Partnerships for the relief of Somalia, which expressed its intention to drill The OIC signed a cooperation agreement with the Saudi 150 wells, the largest pledge presented during the Conference. National Campaign for the relief of Somalia. The agreement is Earlier, The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Charitable aimed at implementing the program for distributing Saudi inFoundation had signed an agreement with the OIC on 21 kind contributions of food, medical and relief materials to the September 2011 in Dubai for the maintenance and rehabilitation victims of famine and drought disaster in Somalia. Under the of 20 water wells in the most affected areas in Somalia at a cost agreement, the OIC Office in Mogadishu will receive, off-load, of 3 million UAE dirhams, out of a total of 60 wells which the transport and store the contents of the relief ship sent by the Foundation has pledged to implement in four months. Saudi National Campaign to the port of Mogadishu. Ambassador Bakhit said that well-drilling is a key factor The agreement was signed by the President of the Saudi to encourage displaced people and refugees to return to their National Campaign, Dr. Said Orabi Al-Harthy, Adviser to H.H. villages, forms the basis for recreating livestock, rehabilitation of agriculture, and paves the way for other development Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior, and Dr. Abdur- Rahman Al-Swailem, Adviser to the OIC Secretary projects such as those in health and education sectors. General for Humanitarian Affairs. Among the other successes of the OIC in Somalia is the The Saudi vessel carried more than 4,000 tons of various signing of an agreement in September during an official delegation visit with the Somali Minister of Health for the food aid items donated by Saudi citizens. The OIC Office in rehabilitation of Banader hospital, the largest in Somalia, Mogadishu transported and distributed the assistance to Somali which collapsed because of the long war. Estimated to refugees in camps and accommodation centers, in coordination cost about $10 million, the project is to be executed in with the Office of the Saudi National Campaign in Somalia. 32 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 of `Days of Giving' in containing the Somali Crisis Valerie Amos OIC humanitarian work in Somalia OIC can make UN system more effective in terms of response Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � The OIC can bring its knowledge and expertise to bear on the international system and make it more inclusive, according to a high United Nations official. The UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, said to the OIC Journal during an official visit to the OIC in Jeddah that the OIC could make the UN system more effective in terms of its response. Amos was at the OIC on November 14, 2011 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the OIC for the coordination of humanitarian action and cooperation in world disaster-affected areas. The MoU looks at a range of areas where the UN and OIC can work closer together including how they coordinate their activities in a range of countries, how they share information and data to make sure they reach the people in need, and to review their activities on a regular basis so they will have annual consultations. During her meeting with the OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Atta Al-Mannan Bakhiet, they talked about the need for ongoing cooperation, particularly in Somalia where the OIC, its Member States and its NGO partners are doing so much to help the people struck by famine and lack of food. They also briefly discussed some of the wider political issues that are impacting the ability to respond effectively. On OIC's added value and contribution in the cooperation with the UN, Amos said that the OIC has particular contacts and networks in the Islamic world and it is very present in terms of its coordination activities in particular countries in the world. "OIC can bring that knowledge and expertise to bear on the international system and to make it more inclusive and to make our system more effective in terms of our response," she explained. In response to a question on concern over donors' fatigue, Amos said that the rising number of crises significantly challenge the ability to respond. She also acknowledged that the public and governments question where and how the donations are spent in some areas. Therefore, she stresses on the importance of transparency. On the other hand, she also stressed on the importance of moving out of the humanitarian phase and into a phase where people are able to rebuild and restore their livelihoods. "We have to help build communities' resilience so that they are better able to withstand shocks and better able to deal with vulnerabilities." In Somalia, the major obstacle to providing aid is security. On the other hand, she thinks that capacity is also a major challenge. "When you are talking about 4 million people in the country who are affected then it has huge implications not only on the capacity of the country but also on the NGOs, UN agencies, all of our partners, the government, other forces operating in the country. It has huge implications on their ability to respond." 33 UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs: Makeshift shelters are seen at Badbaado IDP camp in Mogadishu (epa). HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS Increasing international attention to the OIC Humanitarian Action following success in Somalia as a driver of humanitarian action in the Islamic world as well as a guarantee of the objectivity of humanitarian action. This attention can be discerned in various examples, such as the meeting of the International Liaison Group on Somalia in Denmark on 29th of September 2011 that appreciated the OIC humanitarian role in Somalia and the comment of the US Permanent Envoy to the UN at a meeting of the UN General Assembly requesting the addition of a paragraph that notes the OIC role in Somalia to a proposal submitted by Kenya and Poland regarding strengthening the humanitarian action in the face of drought in the African Horn." "Not only did international organizations appreciate the OIC role but also approached it for more cooperation on the ground. Rajiv Shah, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who praised the OIC at a meeting on Somalia at the UN Headquarters on 24th of September, sent a delegate to the OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah on 9th of October 2011 to discuss the prospects of cooperation between both sides," added Bakhit. Ambassador Bakhit pointed out that the humanitarian organizations faced a difficult challenge in Somalia upon launching their campaign last August in light of the weakness of State institutions and humanitarian organizations in Somalia. This affected the flow of accurate data of the reality of situation on the ground. However, the main problem that faced the OIC alliance mission was the deteriorated security condition, particularly with the change of conflict areas and power between Shaikh Sharif government on one side and Shabab Al-Mujahdeen Movement on the other hand, making the access of the staff of the humanitarian organizations to the afflicted areas rather slow and restricted. Ambassador Bakhit added that "the almost complete absence of international organizations, notably the UN in light of the huge humanitarian needs in Somalia complicated the mission of the humanitarian organizations working under the OIC alliance." He pointed out that despite the difficulties, the OIC succeeded in distributing the US$ 350 million aids committed at the emergency meeting on Somalia held in Istanbul last August. He added that success continued with the convention of the Conference Water for Life in Somalia in Cairo last September, which witnessed pledges of US$ 82 million for drilling boreholes in 11 Somali provinces in addition to concluding partnerships with several Islamic relief organizations, notably the Saudi National Campaign for relief of Somalia. However, the issue now relates to the ability of the OIC that benefited from the momentum of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr to mobilize the support of governments and public opinion of millions of Muslims to the afflicted Somali people and the continuation of this effort to keep abreast with the volume of such disasters that may be facing various Islamic countries. Amb. Bakhit speaking at the Water for Life Conference The current drought in Somalia has been an important turning point in the OIC methodological humanitarian action that has been a target of Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), since the Tsunami disaster in 2006. The 2006 Tsunami sounded the alarm regarding the need for the establishment of mechanisms to address the fact that Islamic countries are the most likely in the world to be affected by disasters. Only after three years of the establishment of the OIC Humanitarian Affairs Department, it has proved itself and attracted the attention of the entire world. Valerie Amos, the United Nations Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, expressed the UN desire to expand its cooperation with the OIC in Somalia as well as other parts of the world, particularly after the OIC has signed an agreement with World Food Program (WFP) in October 2010 and opened its office in Mogadishu in March 2011, one month before the official declaration of the famine in Somalia. Officials at the OIC Secretariat General in Jeddah indicated that the biggest challenge facing humanitarian action in the Islamic world has been the stagnation of the Islamic relief system after September 11th events. The ensuing rigorous legal restraints on the movement of funds affected the capability of the Islamic relief to meet the needs of the affected areas. The OIC succeeded in expanding its humanitarian activities from Gaza Strip to Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia, Kyrgyz, Niger, Darfur, and Afghanistan to mention only a few. It also convened various donor conferences. However, the significant achievement of the OIC in Somalia was a turning point that attracted the attention of the international world regarding the possibility for the OIC to be an essential partner in the aid operations within such societies afflicted with disasters, political apprehension, and security deterioration making it hazardous for the traditional relief organizations to be fully involved in various Islamic disasteraffected areas. The Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs of the OIC, Ambassador Atta El Mannan Bakhit, indicated that "the profound international attention towards the OIC action in Somalia reflects the international trust in its role 34 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 OIC signs agreement with the Emirates' Red Crescent to care for 5000 children orphaned by Tsunami Abu Dhabi, UAE - The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) signed an agreement on 19 October, 2011 in Abu Dhabi with the Emirates' Red Crescent Society to offer guardianship for five thousand orphaned children, victims of the Tsunami tragedy that hit Indonesia a few years ago. The OIC Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ambassador Atta El Manane Bakhit and Mahmoud Ben Khalifa Al Ghamazi, Secretary General of the Emirates' Red Crescent signed the agreement. The Emirates' Red Crescent, thus, joins the OIC Alliance program to care for the Tsunami victim children, in which the Islamic Development Bank is a key partner. Also, the Emirates' Red Crescent expressed its wish to build an institutional partnership with the OIC for action in Somalia. The Tsunami disaster that took place in 2005 left in its wake 25,000 orphaned children in the province of Banda Aceh, the cradle of Islam in South-East Asia, which prompted the OIC to initiate a special program under the gracious patronage of the Custodian of Two Holy Mosque, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to care for orphaned children, victims of the said catastrophe. Doha "Hope For" conference praised for seeking to contain repeated disasters Doha, Qatar - The OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu has welcomed Qatar's continuing efforts to contain disasters in the world. He highlighted the `Hope For' international conference initiative by Qatar held in Doha from 27 � 29 November 2011 as an indication of realization by Qatar and its leadership of the need to find innovative ways to combat repeated occurrences of disasters in the world. The Secretary General stated that this important initiative can complement the efforts of the OIC with ideas, particularly in the latter's quest for an emergency mechanism to combat increasing rate of disaster occurrence in the Muslim world in recent times, whose impacts are still in dire need of being contained. Ihsanoglu called on OIC Member States, civil society institutions and the international community to take a hard look at the initiative and come up with clear ideas that can be translated into concrete steps. A high-level delegation headed by Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ambassador Atta El-Manan Bakheet, participated in the conference. Ambassador Bakheet delivered a speech on behalf of the Secretary General, which highlighted the role of the OIC General Secretariat in combating natural disasters in many countries of the Muslim world. OIC sign action plan to coordinate humanitarian activity with OCHA for the next three years Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - A high level delegation from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Action "OCHA" headed by Rashid Khalikov, Director of the OCHA office in Geneva, visited the OIC General Secretariat and was received by senior officials in the OIC. During the visit, the delegation discussed with the OIC Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Ambassador Atta El Mannane Bakhit, who heads the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, ways of activating the Framework Agreement which had been signed by the OIC Secretary General, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and the United Nations UnderSecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos during her visit to the headquarters of the OIC General Secretariat on 14 November 2011. The discussions between the Department of Humanitarian Affairs and the delegation resulted in the signing of an action plan between the OIC and OCHA for the next three years (2012 � 2014). The Framework Agreement and the action plan will open broader prospects for cooperation between the two International Organizations to strengthen humanitarian action efforts in the world. 35 OIC NEWS Australia's newly-appointed Special Envoy to the OIC makes first visit to Jeddah Australia respects the OIC as a powerful voice for the Umma Discussions on OICAustralia framework of cooperation underway Amb. Ocak speaking with Australian envoy Fahour Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � The newly-appointed Australian $558.1 million in 2011- 12. Australia is the third-largest Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation donor to Libya and one of the largest bi-lateral donors (OIC), prominent Muslim Australian businessman Ahmed responding to the crisis in the Horn of Africa. Australia has Fahour, visited Jeddah on 29- 30 October for discussions also increased its aid to the Palestinian territories and will with senior OIC officials, including the Secretary General's provide more than $300 million over the next five years. Director General of Cabinet and Senior Advisor, Amb. Australia has doubled its development assistance programs Vefahan Ocak, and Special Advisor Cenk Uraz. to Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Australian Government appointed Fahour � the Fahour said he was delighted to be in Jeddah after country's first ever Special Envoy to the OIC � in June 2010. attending the Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Astana last June. This was his first visit to the OIC. Speaking to the OIC He said that Australia respected the OIC as a powerful voice Journal during his visit, Fahour said that the appointment for the Umma and encouraged the OIC to remember Muslims of a Special Envoy is part of Australia's commitment to living in non-OIC Member States. Fahour told OIC officials strengthen relations with the OIC by exploring ways to that Australia's nearly 400,000 strong Muslim community, increase cooperation in areas such as interfaith dialogue, food drawn from all parts of the world, was vibrant and proud of security, economic and trade opportunities, humanitarian its roots. Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has said assistance and development cooperation. of Fahour: "He is a man with a passion for advancing social Australia's development assistance to OIC members is cohesion and the place of Muslims in Australian society". large and growing. In 2011- 12 alone, Australia will provide Fahour, who came to Australia from Lebanon with approximately $ 1 billion in development assistance to OIC his family at age three, praised Australia as the home members across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, according to Fahour. This assistance will be provided through bilateral, to people from nearly 200 different countries, living regional, multilateral and humanitarian initiatives. Australia together in harmony. The Australian Government's policy works closely with Islamic organizations in these countries. of multiculturalism respects and encourages ethnic and Furthermore, Fahor said that Australia's trade in religious diversity and Australia is playing an important goods and services with OIC Members States amounts to role in global efforts to encourage interfaith dialogue and approximately $39 billion annually. Tens of thousands of understanding. Australia and the OIC are currently discussing a young people from OIC Member States study at Australia's Framework for Cooperation as the concrete basis for world-class universities. Closer engagement with the OIC and its Member States will bring opportunities to expand increased engagement and Fahour is also working on plans � supported by the Australian Government � for Australia's economic ties that will benefit both parties, he added. On the aid issues, Australia's closest neighbour, first ever Islamic Museum. The OIC Secretary General has Indonesia, is the world's most populous Muslim nation and been invited to visit Australia early in 2012 to see first-hand it is Australia's largest bilateral aid partner, with Australia the success of a tolerant, multi-cultural society that has providing bilateral ODA to Indonesia of approximately strong and growing links to the Islamic world. 36 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 Kyrgyz holds first democratic Presidential Election Bishkek, Kyrgyz - The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu commended the people of the Kyrgyz Republic for successfully conducting a peaceful presidential election on 30th October 2011. Ihsanoglu noted that the impressive turn-out of enthusiastic voters recorded in the election, was a clear demonstration of the commitment of the people to restore democracy in their country. He expressed satisfaction that the vote was generally held under free, fair and transparent conditions and paid special tribute to the relevant authorities and stakeholders for their contributions in this regard. The OIC observer team which comprised officials from the General Secretariat and the Republic of Kazakhstan monitored the presidential election at the invitation of the government of the Kyrgyz Republic. On December 1, Kyrgyz Republic sworn in a new president, Almazbek Atambayev, in the former Soviet nation's first peaceful transfer of power. Almazbek Atambayev promised to open a "new page" in the country's history and called for ethnic unity. The OIC Assistant Secretary General for Science and Technology, Amb. Abdul Moiz Bokhari attended the Presidential inauguration ceremony in the Republic of Kyrgyz and transmitted a written message of the OIC Secretary General. In his message, the OIC Secretary General congratulated the Kyrgyz President on his election as the new democratically elected President of the Kyrgyz Republic. He also expressed the hope that the recent Presidential election would usher in for the great Kyrgyz people a new era of more democracy, prosperity and development. The secretary General further expressed his confidence that the existing relations between the OIC and the Kyrgyz Republic would be improved. Ihsanoglu meets UK Cabinet Minister and Secretary of State for International Development in London London, UK � The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu met on 27 October 2011 in London, UK with the Cabinet Minister Rt. Hon. Baroness SayeedaWarsi and the Secretary of State for International Development Rt. Hon. Mr. Andrew Mitchell. During the discussions they had a follow up of the Secretary General's official visit to London in June 2011 and exchanged views on the further development of the OIC-UK relations. At the meeting with Baroness Warsi, the Secretary General referred to the agreement reached during his last visit to develop a framework of cooperation between the OIC and UK on different areas including political consultations, humanitarian assistance and combating intolerance, and indicated his willingness to expedite this process. On her part, Baroness Warsi highlighted the commitment of the UK Government to engage and cooperate more with the OIC and expressed their readiness to go ahead with this agreed framework of cooperation. During the meeting with State Secretary Mitchell they discussed potential areas of cooperation between the OIC and UK in the areas of post conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction such as in Somalia, Libya and Afghanistan. OIC rejects the so-called elections in Nagorno-Karabakh The OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu has expressed the OIC's rejection of the so-called "elections" to the "local self-governing bodies" that took place in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan on September 18, 2011. While reiterating the OIC's principled position in fully recognizing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, Ihsanoglu has stated that the recent elections in Nagorno-Karabakh gravely violate relevant norms and principles of international law and therefore have no legal effect. The Secretary General also emphasized on the OIC's continuous support to the efforts made by Azerbaijan towards a peaceful solution to the territory issue on the basis of the relevant international resolutions. An OIC delegation visits Mauritius for first time Adelegation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation visited the Republic of Mauritius for the first time on September 7- 10, 2011 on the invitation of Alif Association to examine and witness the conditions of Muslim minorities there. The delegation, headed by Talal Daous, the Director of Muslim Minorities and Communities Department, held meetings with His Excellency the President of the Republic of Mauritius, the Deputy Prime Minister, senior officials and a number of Islamic figures in which they discussed ways of cooperation between Mauritius and the OIC. The delegation also visited many mosques and Islamic centers during their stay. 37 OIC NEWS By Professor John Packer and Murtaza Shaikh OIC's unique role in conflict prevention and resolution through quiet diplomacy The United Nations has often played the leading role in matters related to international peace and security. This is not surprising given the context of its creation, its raison d'�tre and its 193-strong global membership. Consequently, it has extensive reach and has substantial overall resources. Professor John Packer However, following the end of the Cold War, new political space and good will allowed better inter-governmental organisation and cooperation especially amongst like-minded States in various groupings. Rapid economic development in the global South has also spurred a transition from a bi-polar to a multi-polar (or even no-polar) world of increasing complexity and some disorder. Occurrence of intra-State violent conflict has caught everyone's attention, while inter-State conflict has declined. Furthermore, the UN's resources and capacity have proven inadequate in proportion to the challenge of the multiple and disparate conflict situations that exist globally. As such there has been a trend and indeed necessity for a `new-regionalism', where regional, sub-regional and other intergovernmental organisations (ROIGOs) are today active and at times leading in the prevention, resolution and management of conflicts. In fact, the UN Charter envisions in Chapter VIII such a complementary relationship with ROIGOs in the pacific resolution of conflicts. While the UN remains highly involved often in crises and humanitarian situations, its efforts are more frequently complemented by ROIGOs in conflicts within and affecting their own memberships. This has highlighted a number of other comparative advantages: it is axiomatic that ROIGOs enjoy geographical and cultural proximity amongst their membership. This implies an imperative to reach speedy and lasting resolution of conflicts in the collective interest. Shared lived experience of the regional context and its associated cultural aspects (such as language, religion and history, not to mention economics) result in a deeper, more participatory, democratic and empathetic process and in turn a more sustainable outcome. As such, the UN itself has given greater emphasis to the principles of complementarity and subsidiarity as the most appropriate to describe their current and prospective relationship with ROIGOs in matters related to peace and security. Due to the OIC's unique nature, it benefits from a number of additional advantages. Its membership spans Asia, Africa, Middle East and even Europe and South America. In an era when conflicts and tensions carry ramifications that not only transcend State boundaries, but also regional ones, a transregional IGO is intrinsically best placed to address such phenomena. This is supplemented by the fact that the OIC is the 2nd largest and the only Islamic IGO in the world, enabling 38 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 it to lay claim to representing 1.2 billion people, with 57 Member States. It was the only IGO (until the recent UNESCO decision) to include the Palestinian Authority as a member. Due to its Islamic nature it has a key role to play in conflicts relating to its Member States as well as those that have an Islamic dimension. This has been evident in a number of situations where the OIC has been the preferred Murtaza Shaikh interlocutor/third-party intermediary for Muslim States (notably Somalia and Afghanistan) and Muslim non-State actors (i.a. the Taliban in Afghanistan, the MILF/MNLF in The Philippines, Indian-occupied Kashmir, and the Rohingyas in Burma). In some other instances, OIC interest and insight is evident in making progress in situations where other IGOs have become stalled or exhausted all avenues. Importantly, the OIC was the first IGO to send delegations to Xinjiang (China), Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) and Libya, while in relation to Afghanistan, Somalia and Mauritania the OIC has played a leading role through the International Contact Groups (ICG) � even hosting the last Afghanistan ICG. Separately, relating to the 2011 uprisings in the MENA region, the OIC has played crucial roles, e.g. along with the AU and the LAS to support and legitimise the UN Security Council no-fly zone over Libya. Most recently on 30 November 2011, the OIC SG also convened a Meeting of the Executive Committee at the Ministerial Level to deliberate on the situation in Syria and was instrumental in the success of the Palestinian Authority's admission to UNESCO. These examples show that the OIC is in fact engaging in conflict situations. However, the work has been taken up by various divisions of the OIC (notably the Cabinet, the DPA's regional departments as well as Al-Quds Affairs and the Department of Muslim Minorities and Communities) and is reactive and ad hoc in nature. From this evolving experience, the OIC could well build on its achievements and realise its full potential for effective conflict resolution in two interrelated ways. The first is the need for better organisation and systematisation of its work through the establishment of a dedicated unit of the Secretariat where institutional knowledge and memory could be concentrated. Second, such better capacity would enable more effective engagements with better analyses and timely communications rather than when a conflict has broken out, thus laying emphasis on much less costly (in human lives and material losses) conflict prevention than resolution or very late and costly (post-conflict) peace building. The development of institutional capacity and its better use are of course inter-connected and inter-dependent. Preventive diplomacy efforts need dedicated personnel with the means to initiate assistance-orientated engagements with the consent of the parties. Furthermore, such a dedicated and specialised mechanism can offer rapid and insightful analysis and support to senior intermediaries who are called upon for any type of conflict prevention/resolution effort. The shift in focus to institutionalising preventive diplomacy practices in other IGOs is ongoing and gaining pace. The OSCE is arguably home to the oldest of such mechanisms, the Office of the High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the UN has in recent years established the Mediation Support Unit in its Department of Political Affairs. Other ROIGO's have been developing their institutional capacities, notably the AU with its Directorate for Peace and Security, the OAS with its Office of Conflict Prevention and Resolution and very recently the EU's External Action Service has established a sub-division on Peacebuilding, Conflict Prevention and Mediation. Other notable examples of ROIGOs with similar mechanisms (in various stages of development) include IGAD, PIF, the Commonwealth, OIF, SADC, ECOWAS and ASEAN � indicating that this is a principal trend of contemporary international relations. The OIC, while not at the same stage, is certainly poised to follow a similar path of institutional development. It's Charter and Ten-Year Programme of Action (TYPOA) make explicit reference to conflict prevention as well as resolution and management. This is a sensible reflection, since the OIC is anyhow increasingly involved in various situations, yet always in reaction to events and running from behind its counter-parts who possess better institutional capacities for effective, earlier and more sustained engagements. Concrete steps are being taken by the General Secretariat to increase its capacity for effective conflict prevention through quiet diplomacy as well as seeking consensus of Member States' on the establishment of an OIC Peace and Security Department. This is timely and in the clear interest of OIC and its Member States. It also responds to the genuine interest from the wider international community for such capacity and engagement on the part of the OIC with a view to it playing a more meaningful role given its unique transnational and Islamic nature in an evidently insecure, uncertain and ever more inter-dependent world. NB. Prof. Packer is Senior Adviser and Mr. Shaikh is Legal and Political Officer at the Initiative on Quiet Diplomacy (IQd) � www. iqdiplomacy.org. OIC � UN � IQd holds workshop on Preventive Diplomacy and Mediation Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � The Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the United Nations (UN) Mediation Support Unit (MSU) jointly organized a Workshop on Mediation on 12 December 2011 at the OIC Headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The participants to the Workshop included both representatives of the OIC Member States and staff members of the OIC General Secretariat. The Workshop was facilitated jointly by the members of the MSU of the UN Policy and Mediation Division and Initiative on Quiet Diplomacy (IQd). The workshop was organized as a part of the cooperation program between the OIC General Secretariat and the UN MSU with an aim to build institutional capacity of the OIC in the field of Preventive Diplomacy and Mediation as tools of conflict prevention. The OIC-UN Workshop was preceded by a two-day long seminar on Options and Techniques for Quiet Preventive Diplomacy, which was held for the members of the OIC General Secretariat at the OIC Headquarters on 10- 11 December 2011. The Seminar was conceived and conducted for the OIC by the Initiative on Quiet Diplomacy. MNLF and MILF conclude first coordination meeting in Jeddah Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � At the invitation of Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a first coordination meeting between the leaderships of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) took place on 6- 7 December 2011 at the OIC Headquarters in Jeddah. The meeting was chaired by Amb. Sayed Kassem El-Masry, Adviser to the Secretary General and his Special Envoy for Peace in Southern Philippines, and with the participation of Talal Daous, Director of the Department of Muslim Communities and Minorities at the OIC. The meeting was held in implementation of a resolution from the Ministerial Council which had convened in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and called upon the MNLF and the MILF to rally their efforts, work hand-in-hand for the promotion of peace and development for the people of Bangsamoro and evolve a join mechanism for consultation and coordination. The two Fronts agreed on the need for continued coordination among them so as to help the Bangsamoro people in Southern Philippines achieve their aspirations and recover all their political, civil and economic rights. They also agreed that such coordination would include the exchange of information on the peace process, the difficulties facing them in their negotiations and what the OIC could extend in this connection. They further agreed that their coordination meetings would be chaired by the representative of the OIC Secretary General for peace in Southern Philippines, Amb. Sayed Kassem El-Masry, and that the Second round of this coordination between them would be held in February 2012. 39 OIC NEWS OIC Countries to establish Young Entrepreneurs Network Baku, Azerbaijan � The Founding Convention of the "OIC Countries Young Entrepreneurs Network" (ICYEN), co-organized by the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (ICYF-DC), Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Government of Azerbaijan, was held in Baku, Azerbaijan on 22- 23 November of 2011. ICYEN is envisaged to be an international network subsidiary to ICYF-DC aiming to provide a platform for young entrepreneurs of the Muslim World, to enhance and develop their business skills, to support growth of the OIC economies through promoting youth entrepreneurship and to facilitate sharing of innovative ideas and best practices among young entrepreneurs on a global level. The goodwill message of Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the OIC, was delivered to the participants of the opening ceremony. Leyla Aliyeva, the ICYF-DC General Coordinator for Intercultural Dialogue, Elshad Iskandarov, the Secretary General of the ICYF-DC, Dr. Hasan Ibrahim Almohannadi, Vice-president of Qatar Committee for Alliance of Civilizations, Fikret Akchura, UN Resident-Coordinator to Azerbaijan and Azeem Ibrahim, the President of "Ibrahim Associates" also addressed the meeting. The Convention highlighted the launch of a new global award for young Muslims from across the world titled "10 Young Muslims Who can Change our World". Baku Founding Convention will establish the ICYEN by assembling national associations of young entrepreneurs and/ or innovative enterprises led by young people, representing OIC member countries and large Muslim communities in non-Member States who are dedicated to development of their communities and contribute to enhancement of young entrepreneurship. The Convention will also provide an opportunity for networking entrepreneurs at different levels and across the region. The outcomes of the Convention were presented at the Second Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Istanbul on 3- 5 December, 2011. Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation agree on future activities Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � The Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation convened the seventh meeting of its General Assembly on 4 and 5 October 2011 at the Conference Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The meeting unanimously recommended appointment of the President General of Youth Care in Saudi Arabia Prince Nawaf bin Faisal for the post of Chairman of the Federation's Board of Directors in the next term. The General Assembly discussed several topics and made decisions and recommendations on them. The most important of these decisions include adoption of the recommendations by the eighth meeting of the Sports Medicine and Drug Control Committee, such as organizing a scientific conference on sports medicine; adoption of the recommendations of the sixth Technical Committee meeting, which included adding some appropriate modifications to the statutes of the Islamic Solidarity Games; and adoption of the Federation's competitions, such as the taekwondo tournament in Libya in 2010, the tennis tournament in Egypt in 2011, boxing championship in Syria in 2011, weight lifting championship in Saudi Arabia in 2011 and basketball tournament in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It also mandated the Federation's General Secretariat to resume contacts with the Olympic committees in those countries to determine the appropriate dates of the tournaments. Also, the flag handing over ceremony of the third Islamic Solidarity Games, which will be organized in Indonesia in 2013, was held on 5 October 2011. A ceremony in honor of Prince Sultan bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, Chairman of the Board in the previous period, was also held during the event. Antalya, Turkey � The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) took part in the 3rd Symposium on International Terrorism and Transnational Crime organized by the International Terrorism and Transnational Crime Research Center (UTSAM) on 9 -11 December 2011 in Antalya, Turkey. The 3rd edition of the Symposium has pooled together academic experts and practitioners from 25 countries, together with representatives from a number of regional and international organizations, and NGOs. The discussions focused on the challenges facing the prevention of and fight against terrorism and cross-border criminality, as well as the 40 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 OIC participates in 3rd Symposium on International Terrorism evolving patterns of terrorist acts and counter-radicalization efforts. An entire session was dedicated to an interactive exchange of views about the uprisings unraveling in a number of Arab-Islamic states and their potential impact on the security and stability of the region and beyond. The President of the Turkish National Police Academy, the host of the Symposium, lauded in his keynote address, the recent preparatory meeting held in Jeddah of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) as conveying a strong message against the skewed perception that Islam and human rights are not congenially compatible. Media Ihsanoglu calls on Member States to provide resources to support IINA Secretary General to prepare a report to evaluate the current situation of IINA, ISBO, and the OIC Information Department; consider ways and means to activate the role and mechanisms of the media within the framework of the OIC System; and submit proposals, in this regard, to the Islamic Conference of Information Ministers for consideration." The Secretary General added that the study related to the restructuring of IINA has been undertaken, and supported by the eighth session of the Information Ministers held in Rabat in January 2009. The said session approved the new structuring of the Agency in light of the comprehensive study, which had been prepared by a leading consultancy firm, including the financial rules and regulations, and also those related to the staff, as well as the time-frame and financial requirements set by the restructuring process of the Agency. In a related context, the General Assembly, which was chaired by Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Mohieddin Khoja, the Minister of Culture and Information of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Chairman of the Executive Council of IINA, was presented the report and recommendations of the twentyfourth session of the Executive Council and the resolution of the Islamic Conference of Information Ministers as well as the decisions of the Chairman of the Executive Council. The General Assembly also discussed the draft budget of the Agency for the years 2011 and 2012, in addition to endorsement of the final accounts for the years 2009 and 2010, election of members of the new Executive Council and new members of the Finance Committee. The General Assembly delegated the Executive Council to carry out the procedures of selecting the new Director General of the Agency. Minister Khoja chairing the meeting Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu called for providing the International Islamic News Agency (IINA) with all the resources needed to enable it to embark without hindrance on the development of its work. He also called on the Member States to establish effective cooperation between news agencies in the Muslim world, share news, files and data that serve the development of joint Islamic media action. The Secretary General in his speech, delivered by Ambassador Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman Alim, the Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, at the fourth session of the General Assembly of IINA, held at the OIC Headquarters in Jeddah on 10 December 2011, referred to the OIC Ten-Year Program of Action (TYPOA) adopted by the Third Extraordinary Islamic Summit held in Makkah on the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. The TYPOA mandated "the Gabon reviews arrangements for hosting 9th OIC Information Ministers Conference in April 2012 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � A delegation from Gabon reviewed with the OIC General Secretariat the arrangements for hosting the Ninth Session of the OIC Information Ministers Conference in April 2012. Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, OIC Secretary General, received in his office in Jeddah on 10 December 2011, a delegation from Gabon, comprised of Ali Radjoumba, Advisor at the Presidency, Ambassador Jeannette Engandzas and Jean Robert El Mut Moutchinga Boulingui, both Advisors to the Minister of Communication. The Secretary General laid stress on his committed resolve to ensure optimal success for this conference due to be held for the first time at this level in Gabon and in Central Africa in general. The delegation made a presentation on the arrangements already underway for the convening of the Ninth Session of the OIC Information Ministers Conference due to be held in Libreville from 17 to 20 April, 2012. The Delegation also conveyed to the Secretary General the greetings of H.E. President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and those of the Gabonese Minister of Communications. The Delegation held a coordination meeting on 11 December 2011 with the OIC General Secretariat's senior officials, in which they reviewed the different logistical aspects and issues included on the agenda of the Conference which will bring together the OIC Member States' Information Ministers. Emphasis was placed on the need to do everything possible to ensure optimal conditions for the Conference in view of the distinct importance of information under the current developments in the Islamic world. 41 CULTURE Second Conference on Islam and Muslims in America celebrates achievements of American Muslims The Secretary General in his speech highlighted the salient features of the OIC-US relations in political, socioeconomic, cultural, and science and technology fields. He also underlined the increased engagement with the United States and referred to his meeting with President Obama in the White House in April 2011 whereby President Obama expressed his appreciation for the OIC's involvement towards resolution of conflicts in some parts of the Islamic world and underlined his commitment to keep the lines of communication open with the OIC. The Secretary General urged the leadership of Muslim Americans to stand up for the principles of right and justice, and support good causes. They should join other groups, in fighting injustice and corruption. Such involvement goes hand in hand with the teaching of Islam. He said that it is the obligation of the Muslim community in America to strive hard to contribute to their nation and make particular effort to heal the scars of 9/ 11, as marked again in the recent observation of the 10th anniversary of that event. They have to live with the responsibility and the burden of proving that the acts of the few are not to be attributed to all and that such generalization is incorrect and unjustified � something that the American Muslim community can and must address. Ihsanoglu spoke about the efforts of the OIC to combat intolerance and discrimination based on religious belief. The OIC has consistently pursued a policy to engage in a pragmatic dialogue with the other communities to remove whatever misgivings there maybe between Muslims and their non-Muslim neighbors and extended its hand of cooperation on issues of common concern. He concluded his remarks with a tone of hope and aspiration towards utilizing the opportunities by the Muslims offered by the current era of challenging times in the world and the winds of change in certain region. Members of Congress Schakowsky and Cougley also spoke positively on the OIC-US relations and the important role that the Muslim Community plays in the American Society. The Conference witnessed important and thoughtstimulating deliberations from different scholars, professionals, government officials and community leaders on various issues concerning Islam and Muslims in America. Discussions were conducted in four panels under the broad themes of American Foreign Policy and the Muslim World; Winds of Change in the Muslim World: Implications for Democracy; Islam in the American Context; and Imagining Our Future. The Conference, the second of its kind, is organized as a fulfillment of the commitment made by the Secretary General to the US Muslim Community to provide them with a forum to discuss and develop their positive and proactive role in the American Society and as a cultural bridge between the US and the Muslim World. Ihsanoglu talking with a participant in the Conference Chicago, USA � The American Islamic College held on 17 September 2011 the second Conference on "Islam and Muslims in America" at its premises in Chicago, USA. The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu delivered the keynote address at the inaugural ceremony of the Conference. The main objective of the Conference was to celebrate the achievements of the American Muslim Community as well as to highlight the long-standing ties between the United States and the Muslim World. The inaugural session was also addressed by the US' Special Envoy to the OIC Rashad Hussein, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Congressman Mike Cougley and attended by members of the Illinois State Legislature, Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, officials from the City of Chicago, Ambassador Hannah Rosenthal and representatives of the State Department and the diplomatic corps, as well as the distinguished scholars from academic institutions from across the country. Special Envoy Hussein in his speech reiterated the commitment of the Obama Administration in increasing engagement and enhancing cooperation with the Muslim World and the OIC based on mutual interest and respect including in the areas of health, science, economy and combating intolerance. He also commended the OIC for its active stance and engagement vis-a-vis the recent developments in some of the OIC Member States and referred to OIC's support to the resolution of conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia. 42 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 King Abdullah Center for Interfaith Dialogue set up in Vienna Islam prohibits the misuse and abuse of religion, he added. He said Austria was chosen for this center because it already hosts major international organizations. He pointed out that the initiative to set up the Vienna dialogue center was launched by King Abdullah back in July 2008 at the World Conference on Interfaith Dialogue held in Madrid. Jimenez said the three signatory countries put in place this center with an aim to prevent conflicts and to promote peace and understanding among diverse religious groups. She added: "The center aims to become an institution of excellence for dialogue between people of different faiths and cultural backgrounds." The King Abdullah Center will have a nine-member board representing five major world religions. The Vatican was also expected to send an observer. The president of its Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, attended the signing on 13 October. On the objectives of the Vienna center, a statement released by the Foreign Ministry in Riyadh said: "The opening of the center would lead to the conducting of a number of interfaith and cultural dialogue programs besides interreligious discussions to promote world peace and peaceful coexistence of the followers of different faiths. King Abdullah Center will cooperate with other centers and institutions that work to foster greater understanding between followers of various religions and cultures," it added. Austria is inhabited by the people of diverse faiths and cultures, including a large number of immigrants. Muslims are the largest religious minority in Austria, accounting for about 5 percent of the total population. Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Prince Saud al-Faisal (L), Austria Michael Spindelegger (C) and Spain Trinidad Jimenez (R) during the signing ceremony for the Center (epa) Vienna, Austria � Saudi Arabia, Austria and Spain set up a new center for interfaith dialogue in Vienna. Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger signed the founding document on October 13, 2011 along with his Spanish and Saudi counterparts Trinidad Jimenez and Prince Saud Al-Faisal. "The dialogue with and between religious communities is more important than ever and indispensable for long-term peace and security," Spindelegger said. The center, named after Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and due to open its doors in mid2012, was to provide a setting for this debate, he went on. Prince Saud said the forum will be "free of any political influence." "Saudi Arabia will pay for everything that is needed because it believes in this center," he added. Prince Saud emphasized that the mission of the King Abdullah Center would be to promote virtues, respect for human beings irrespective of their religions or race and the prevention of vices, among them, intolerance and racism. ISESCO's symposium in Geneva recommends establishing social partnership to counter Islamophobia Geneva, Switzerland � An international cultural symposium held by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) at the Palais des Nations, in Geneva, on 28 September 2011 recommended the launch of the social project of citizenship under the slogan "New Europe" so that all citizens live in harmony. The symposium, organized jointly by ISESCO and the COJEP (Council for Justice, Equality and Peace) on the theme of "Integration in New Europe", also recommended countering Islamophobia and all kinds of discrimination against European citizens originating from Arab-Islamic countries. At the close of its proceedings, the symposium called upon Islamic associations in Europe to join in the "New Europe" project and affiliate with the European Islamic NGOs network. The symposium, which brought together representatives of international organizations and bodies such as the Council of Europe, the European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion (EMISCO, a network of European Muslim intellectuals concerned with social cohesion issues) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Geneva, underlined the importance of establishing social partnerships among European NGOs to counter Islamophobia and all forms of discrimination. Likewise, it recommended to further publicize the "New Europe" project through holding extensive consultations in European capitals and with international organizations and bodies, and to hold a meeting at the European Parliament to introduce this project. 43 CULTURE Rabat, Morocco � The Member States is implemented in a manner that incorporates of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and furthers our interests. (OIC) who are part of the Group of Friends � The OIC Member States may need of the Alliance of Civilizations (AoC) met to consider the notion that the success of at the headquarters of the ISESCO on 17- the AoC would depend on four elements, 18 October 2011 for the 2nd Meeting of the namely, (i) Address the problem at the grass AoC Focal Points of the OIC Member States roots level rather than confining it to elites; to discus an Action Plan of the OIC Group (ii) Ending stereotyping of Muslims by the of Friends (GoF) for 2012 -2014, as well as media; (iii) Having political engagement at reports and strategies in the framework of the highest levels; and (iv) Working towards the preparation for joint Islamic action in the a historic reconciliation between Islam and context of the AoC. Christianity. Secretary of State of the Ministry of � There is a need for concerted efforts to Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco encourage OIC Member States to be more Latifa Akharbach inaugurated the Meeting. actively involved in AoC-related activities She underlined the need for a unified position through adoption of AoC National Plans on within the context of AoC activities and dialogue and interaction among civilizations highlighted the role Morocco has been and to initiate projects on the four target areas, playing in this regard. namely media, education, migration and the Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, Director youth, taking into consideration the vital General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific interests and concerns of the Muslim world. and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), gave � Urge all OIC Member States to establish the welcome address. He stated: "The more closer interaction with the AoC, as a relevant intense and strained crises and international forum for dialogue by enlisting themselves in relations are, as in today's case, the more the AoC Group of Friends, if they are not yet the need arises for new methods and new members. implementation mechanisms in the field of the � Call for coordinated positions during alliance of civilizations. This is particularly AoC meetings and activities. achievable through concrete initiatives with � Aim to work constructively also within immediate positive impacts on the daily lives the context of the AoC on a common platform of individuals and groups. Such initiatives aiming at developing projects addressing the should also encourage deeper awareness need for inter-cultural and inter-civilizational of the importance of this alliance, which dialogue at all levels. should be extended beyond its theoretical A video message by the UN High and philosophical framework and translated Representative for the AoC Jorge Sampaio into realistic and targeted projects as part of a was delivered at the inaugural session in collective action involving the intellectual and which he invited the Focal Points to use the academic elite, political, media and religious meeting for exchange of views on how to leaderships, famous figures of art, literature draft or improve national plans, as well as to and sport and women and men, in order to be actively involved in the 4th AoC Forum give substance to human cooperation and to be held in Doha on 11 -13 December 2011. reaffirm the unity of the human community." The Focal Points presented country reports on Ambassador Hemayetuddin, Director the progress and activities in their respective General of the Department of Cultural Affairs, countries within the AoC framework through read out the message of Professor Ekmeleddin projects, initiatives, and recommendations. Ihsanoglu, OIC Secretary General. Professor In their presentations, they highlighted the Ihsanoglu highlighted the areas of action that importance of the continued interfaith, interwould further tolerance and understanding, civilizational, and inter-cultural dialogue as follows: as effective means to counter intolerance, � Developing a White Paper on the incitement, xenophobia, and racism based on Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which may be religion and faith. useful in presenting alternate ways for The Meeting deliberated at length on the alleviating the unbearable sufferings of the document entitled "Draft of the OIC Plan Palestinian people under foreign occupation. of Action for the AoC 2012 -2014" and the � The AoC, in cooperation with the OIC Focal Points requested more time to study and its Member States, would need to take it in-depth before adoption. The Meeting initiatives to address the issue of intolerance welcomed the offer by Kuwait to host the 3rd and incitement to hatred based on religious Meeting of the AoC Focal Points of the OIC grounds. Member States in 2012 prior to the 5th AoC � Ensuring that the Mediterranean Strategy Annual Forum to be held in Vienna, Austria. Second meeting of Alliance of Civilizations' focal points discuss Action Plan of OIC Group of Friends 44 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 The 4th Forum of the UNAOC discuss dialogue, dignity, democracy and development issues Ihsanoglu added that the reality of a multicultural society and the need to live in peace and harmony in such an environment must be understood and appreciated by all. The Closing session of the Forum concluded the three days of meetings, exchanges and new ideas. In her closing speech, H.H. Sheikha Moza renewed her message to the international community: "during this Forum, I have seen the involvement of the Youth and I was happy to hear their voice. In fact, despite what we think, their awareness is real and they have proven that we need their leadership and support to achieve the goals of UNAOC and MDGs." UNAOC High Representative President Jorge Sampaio stated: "This Forum is a big step forward in showing how the Alliance as a soft power tool can contribute to a global partnership for peace and development. These three days made it crystal clear that diverse societies do not have to be divided societies; cultural and religious differences do not produce exclusion unless they are hardened by discrimination. From this Forum emerged a positive narrative about diversity." Sheikha Moza in a family photo with the participants (epa) Doha, Qatar � The 4th Annual Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), organized in Qatar on December 11- 13, 2011 at the initiative of H.H. Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, member of the High Level Group of the UNAOC, was attended by more than 2,500 participants, including Heads of State, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, NGOs, representatives of civil society, young leaders, foundations, media, academia and corporate sector. The Doha Forum revolved around three key themes: � How does cultural diversity impact development? � The missing link � Promoting trust and tolerance to advance development goals � New strategies for intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation The Forum tackled the issue of the missing link between culture and development, and the notion of cultural diversity with the necessary tools that must be established to make the cultural factor a key element in development policies. The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu was among the participants in the panel discussing the impact of cultural diversity on development. He stressed that he is devoted to bring the international community to reach common ground to establish that cultural diversity is conductive to development. The Secretary General stated that the OIC was able to make the first breakthrough by taking the initiative at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) earlier this year that resulted in the unanimous and consensual adoption of UN HRC Resolution 16/ 18. Ihsanoglu said that it was a matter of great satisfaction that they were able to reach yet another milestone in November when the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly adopted the OIC sponsored Resolution by consensus with some additional positive provisions. The Secretary General warned that intolerance based on religion, faith or cultural background has become in recent years acute in many parts of the developed world, remarking that the OIC was well aware of this fact, since Muslims were the principal victims. Ihsanoglu: Events would be better termed "the Fall Season of Despots" rather than the "Arab Spring" On the sidelines of his participation in the AOC Forum in Doha, Prof. Ihsanoglu gave a lecture at Brookings Institute in Doha on 12 December 2011 under the title of "The OIC's Stand towards the Developments in the Arab Region". He said that the label attached to the revolutions witnessed in the region, as "the Arab Spring" fails to reflect the reality that has swept over the Middle East and North Africa, and that a more accurate metaphor, in his view, should be: "The Fall Season of the Despots". Ihsanoglu told his audience that there were many factors that stood behind the outbreak of these revolutions, foremost of which the evils of dictatorship, monopolizing of power, and exclusion of the masses from participation in decision-making. These in turn created economic and social problems; the most serious among them was the rampant unemployment with recorded rates in 2010 of 10.3% in the Middle East and 9.9% in North Africa. Ihsanoglu underlined in his lecture that the OIC's stand towards the current events in the region proceeds from the resolutions issued by the Extraordinary Summit held in Makkah Al Mukarramah in 2005, at which it was unanimously agreed that there was a need to ensure democracy, good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights. He also noted that the new Charter of the OIC, adopted by the Dakar Summit in 2008, lays a particular stress on all these values. 45 CULTURE Vienna, Austria � An OIC delegation, led by Ambassador Hemayetuddin and including Rizwan Saeed Sheikh, Director in the Department of Cultural and Social Affairs, participated in the OSCE/ODIHR High Level Conference on Confronting Discrimination and Intolerance against Muslims in Public Discourse held in Vienna on October 28, 2011. The event was the third and final in a series of high level meetings co-organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) under the Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship. A conference in Prague held in March was devoted to anti-Semitism in public discourse, while the Rome Conference in September 2011 addressed hate crimes against Christians. A statement, read out at the conference, on behalf of the OIC Secretary General underscored the need and urgency for forging a new relationship and understanding between the West and the Muslim world through respect for cultural diversity. The statement drew attention to OIC's consistent effort at emphasizing the importance of cultural and interfaith dialogue to promote world peace and stability, seeking a historic reconciliation between the Muslim world and the West with a view to curbing the ascendency of Islamophobia in particular and intolerance and incitement to hatred and violence on religious grounds in general. The critical importance of the OIC initiative embodied in UNHRC Resolution 16/ 18 reflecting a consensual approach - that the international community should optimally utilize towards addressing the issue of religious intolerance - was also highlighted. OSCE/ODIHR holds High Level Conference on Confronting Discrimination and Intolerance against Muslims Evaldas Ignatavicius, Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister, in his opening address to the conference emphasized that intolerance and discrimination could only be surmounted by all key actors engaging and pooling their efforts. "Unfortunately, we have seen too little leadership from the political sphere and from the media when Muslims were subject to assaults," he added. Ignatavicius stressed the need to create a continuing process of open reflection, enact necessary laws, develop sustainable educational programs and build public awareness to eradicate "this heinous form of human rights violation". The OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier contended that the promotion of hatred, hostility and bigotry against certain groups based on their ethnic, national, religious or other characteristics ran counter to the core values of the OSCE community. He added that this transnational phenomenon required collective and co-operative international and regional responses. Janez Lenarcic, the Director of ODIHR, underlined the importance of focusing on education to create a climate where diversity was not only tolerated but also valued. He encouraged participants to make use of the Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims: Addressing Islamophobia through Education co-published by ODIHR, the Council of Europe and UNESCO. The Conference agreed that OSCE member States' governments and other key actors must challenge intolerant public discourse against Muslims. Seminar in Brussels on redressing stereotypes about Islam in TV Brussels, Belgium � The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), in association with the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs of the State of Kuwait, and in coordination with the Brussels-based Islamic Academy for Development and Research, held a seminar on ways to redress stereotypes about Islam in TV programs. The event took place in Brussels on 15 -18 September 2011. In addition to focusing on the characteristics of the stereotypical image that is portrayed about Islam in TV programs in Europe, the seminar considered ways to enhance cooperation between Islamic media corporations based in Europe. The seminar also looked into ways to promote cooperation and understanding between Muslim media professionals in Europe and their European counterparts, in full respect of internationally recognized media ethics and legal standards. The seminar gathered Muslim journalists, experts from across Europe specializing in international law, press law and human rights, along with a host of European media practitioners and researchers interested in stereotypes of the other in the media. At its close, the seminar called for bringing the effort by European university and academic institutions focusing on the perceptions of Islam and Muslims in audio-visual media in Europe to bear into correcting misconceptions about Islam. 46 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 Focusing on the use of scientific research tools in Europe to put right tendentious allegations circulating about Islam, the seminar called on ISESCO to join up with Brussels-based Islamic Academy for Development and Research (IDARA), and the Euro-Mediterranean Association of Arab Journalists in Europe, to conduct training courses for media practitioners in the old continent. The seminar also stressed that it is important to avail of various mechanisms and institutions in steering and coordinating efforts by Muslim journalists in Europe, and bank on public relations to expand presence of journalists in international gatherings, and allow for professionally dealing with offense against Islam and Muslims in the West. In this connection, it was stressed that there should be a directory of Muslim journalists in Europe, in order to foster cooperation and coordination to best deal with the negative view of Islam and Muslims in global media. It was also suggested that a database of TV and digital media productions dealing with Islam and Muslim issues in Europe be established, with media researchers focusing each on a specific EU country. The seminar, hosted by the Brussels Press Club Europe, featured a work visit to the European Parliament Press Office, and a roundtable discussion at the Professional Association of Journalists in Belgium. The Journey of Hajj at the British Museum London, UK � The British Museum in London is organizing the first major exhibition dedicated to the Hajj. "Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam" will open January 26, 2012 and run until April 15, 2012. The exhibition would examine the significance of Hajj as one of the five pillars of Islam, exploring its importance for Muslims and looking at how this spiritual journey has evolved throughout history. It will bring together a wealth of objects from a number of different collections, including important historic pieces as well as new contemporary artworks that reveal the enduring impact of Hajj around the globe and across the centuries. Three key strands make up the exhibition, namely the pilgrim's journey with an emphasis on the major routes used through history -- those from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East; the Hajj today, its associated rituals and what the experience means to the pilgrim; and Makkah, the final destination of Hajj, its origins and importance. The journey element will start with the present day with a sense of pilgrims coming from everywhere and then go back in time and focus on four main journeys, each of which has a gathering point whence pilgrims set off and at an appointed time, including Kufah, Cairo, Damascus and Jeddah. The essence of the routes to Makkah section is the incredible effort needed to make the Hajj in early times. The exhibition also examines the journey and arrival from India, Indonesia and as far east as China. A section on Makkah talks about the sanctuary and its history going back to the time of Abraham and then goes into the finer points of the rituals themselves through film, manuscript and photographs where the rituals are explained in detail, for example the tawaf (circumambulation of the Kaaba) and the standing at Arafat and why this is such a pivotal moment. A short film will detail all the ritual elements of Hajj from the first to the last day. Augmenting the film of the rituals is a section examining the rituals through objects, photographs, manuscripts, Zam Zam water bottles and the like. In this section is a display on the history, significance and crafting of the kiswa, the black cover of the Kaaba. For more information: http://www.britishmuseum.org/ Haj 47 CULTURE 'Istanbul Process' continues: UN Resolution 16 /18 sets on an implementation framework in Washington Washington DC, USA � Washington DC hosted a Such acts must not be condoned by states but duly addressed meeting on December 12- 14, 2011 for experts to discuss the through structured and sustained engagement. We also need technical details aimed at evolving a framework with regard to squarely address and develop a common understanding to the consensual implementation of the UN Resolution 16/ on some of the grey areas." 18 on "Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and The Washington meeting was attended, at the Expert stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, level, by the countries invited by the US government as well and violence against persons based on religion or belief". as representatives of international and inter-governmental The meeting was a follow up to the high level gathering organizations including the OIC, African Union, EU and initiated by the OIC in Istanbul on July 15, 2011 attended by Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. the Secretary General of the The meeting was structured, OIC Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, at the Technical level, into US Secretary of State breakout sessions that Hillary Clinton, EU Foreign discussed ways and means Policy Chief Baroness of implementing certain The success of the alternative Ashton and Ministerial specific points that form the level representation from approach contained in the resolution subject matter of resolution a number of countries. 16/ 18 will be judged by addressing 16/ 18 and the problems The meeting provided vital concerns of all parties in a time thereof. to be borne in the essential political It needs bound framework impetus at the outset of a mind that the Resolution 16/ process geared towards 18 signifies an alternative consensual and result and consensual approach oriented implementation of towards dealing with the the resolution 16/ 18.The issue of `defamation of process has come to be known as the "Istanbul Process". religions' or incitement to hatred on religious grounds with It was during his address to the 15th session of the Human a view to addressing vital concerns of all parties on this Rights Council in Geneva that the OIC Secretary General important issue. outlined a new approach towards evolving a consensus against incitement to violence and intolerance on religious The difference of perspectives on the issue of freedom ground that could endanger peaceful coexistence. His eight of expression constitutes the most important moot point. points in the proposed approach found resonance with all In fact, evolving a consensus on this issue holds the key the negotiating partners. These points formed the basis of to addressing concerns of all parties. The solution lies in the consensus reflected in HRC resolution 16/ 18. establishing clarity with regard to interface between articles In his message to the Washington meeting, the Secretary 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and General commended all those who contributed to this process Political Rights (ICCPR). of consensus building, particularly the personal interest of The Washington meeting discussed legal aspects, which Secretary Clinton and the role played by the US towards the included deliberations focusing on this important point consensual adoption of the resolution. with reference to international as well as domestic laws and Ihsanoglu stressed, however, that the real test lied in practices. The two day meeting would be translated in the the implementation. "Having been successful at consensus light of the deliberations into a set of best practices that would building we must now act in concert to build on the consensus. be shared with the Office of the UN High Commissioner on The adoption of the Resolution does not mark the end of the Human Rights for dissemination. While the paucity of time road. It rather signifies a beginning based on a new approach could only accommodate discussion on two of the important to deal with the whole set of interrelated issues." areas of action listed in the resolution, a continuation of the The success of the alternative approach contained in process with the participation of all parties must be viewed as the resolution 16/ 18 will be judged by addressing vital contributing towards an optimistic outlook. Most important concerns of all parties in a time bound framework, he to that end was the positive concluding note that the next added. "As mentioned in the Resolution, steps to end double meeting would be hosted by the EU, which may not be standards and racial or religious profiling need to be taken. discounted as a welcome augury for the Istanbul Process. 48 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 The Metropolitan Museum in New York re-opens its Islamic Arts Galleries Emperor's Carpet, classical Persian carpet of the 16th century Damascus Room, from A.H.1119/ 1707 A.D. A 14th-century mihrab Pages from the Shahnama New York, USA � The grand reopening of a suite of drawn from an area that extends from Spain in the west to 15 dramatic New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, India in the east. Some 1,200 works of art in all media will Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia took be on view at any time, representing all major regions and artistic styles, from the seventh century onward. place at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art on The Galleries include: November 1. The greatly enlarged, freshly conceived, � Arab Lands and Iran in the Umayyad and Abbasid and completely renovated galleries house the Periods (7th�13th centuries); Metropolitan's renowned collection of Islamic art. � Iran and Central Asia (9th�13th centuries) and (13th� "The opening of these extraordinary new galleries 16th centuries); underscores our mission as an encyclopedic museum � Egypt and Syria (10th�16th centuries); and provides a unique opportunity to convey the � Patti Cadby Birch Gallery--Spain, North Africa, and grandeur and complexity of Islamic art and culture at the Western Mediterranean (8th�19th centuries); a pivotal moment in world history," stated Thomas P. � Ko� Family Galleries--Carpets, Textiles and the Greater Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan Museum. Ottoman World and Arts of the Ottoman Court (14th�20th "This new geographic orientation signals a revised centuries); perspective on this important collection, recognizing � Safavid and Later Iran (16th�20th centuries); and that the monumentality of Islam did not create a single, � Mughal South Asia (16th�19th centuries) and Later monolithic artistic expression, but instead connected a South Asia (16th-20th centuries). vast geographic expanse through centuries of change The galleries were closed for renovation in May and cultural influence. The public will find galleries filled 2003 as part of the Museum's comprehensive "21st with magnificent works of art that evoke the plurality of Century Met" interior construction project. A the Islamic tradition and the vast cross-fertilization of variety of educational initiatives is being offered ideas and artistic forms that has shaped our shared cultural to enhance understanding of Islamic culture heritage." and several publications were printed. The collection comprises more than 12,000 works of art 49 CULTURE Oman Inaugurates First Opera House in the Gulf Muscat, Oman (dpa): Sultan Qabus bin Said, Ruler of the Sultanate of Oman inaugurated in the capital Muscat in October the Royal Opera House, the first in the Gulf, which comes as a culmination of the cultural development process launched by Sultan Qabus since the seventies of the last century. The Royal Opera House in Muscat features a glamorous building whose remarkable architecture is inspired by Oman's cultural heritage. Its magnificent architecture places it among the major modern achievements in Oman. The Royal Opera House is established on a plot of 80,000 square meters in an area near the Qurum beach in Muscat. The built area exceeds 25,000 square meters. The Royal Opera House is an eight story building, three of which are underground. It overlooks gardens and a large green square which offers an extra space for exhibits. The visitor of the Royal Opera House in Muscat is overwhelmed from the first moment with a feeling of grandeur and fascination. The visitor can notice many of the details of Omani architecture with the countless openings topping external ramparts. Inside the building are some wooden structures designed as Arab mashrabiyyas common in Arab houses. Omani architectural heritage is also obvious in the design of lanterns and chandeliers, which can also be traced back to the Mamluk era. The Opera House also features Mongolian and Indian ornaments seen in the myriad of small windows. These ornaments and the multi-cultural heritage traits match perfectly with the marble which plays a key part in the design. Significant use was made of the Sultanate's craftsmanship; 50 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 all wood patterns and plaster works were prepared and done in Oman. Since cultural dialogue requires a mixture of authenticity and modernity, and since the House is intended to host international music and cultural shows where technology plays a key part, the House was designed to accommodate cuttingedge technology in the field of opera houses in the world. Access to the Royal Opera House is done through the main entrance from the southern side of the edifice. The shape of the internal ceiling reveals artistic touches with precise engravings on mahogany wood. The southern internal hall represents a point of arrival in addition to its role as a space for exhibits and various other activities. The internal fa�ade is covered with rosy white stone extracted from an Omani stone quarry. The floor of the room features an ornamental engraving specific to the Opera House. The engraving patterns are done with red and yellow marble and are seen in many places in the Opera House. The huge windows surrounding the room include layers of engraved and colored glass. The main hall can be accessed through passages in every floor. It accommodates between 850 and 1100 seats, and includes front seats, three balconies and many side compartments. The hall is inspired by traditional Arabic and Islamic architecture. The Royal Opera House in Muscat boasts a theater representing the heart of the House. The theater is equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system, a completely adjustable stage, a theater tower including equipments for hanging theater materials, a scene control system, and other theater devices. SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) Wajdi Al-Quliti Director of IT Departement, OIC society's decision". But this doesn't change much and GoDaddy will continue to suffer from the reaction. It is not a coincidence to find support of SOPA from producing companies that suffer from electronic piracy, as well as to find protests by companies that operate on the Internet like YouTube and others, because they are aware of the amount of problems behind this new act. According Russian Voice News, Evegny Yushuk, who is a member of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, explains the core of the discussion. "This may lead to serious abuse, because at present courts are considering data provided by both sides. Their verdict is based on the correct interpretation of the law. And the new bill allows onesided acting. It opens the way for various provocations. It gives the opportunity to provoke the situation. Then it is possible to cite it and demand whatever they want." On the other hand, to clarify further what the main objective of this act, here are Lamar Smith's e-mail responses to the public and his justifications for crucial points and reasons for SOPA: "These foreign websites are called "rogue sites" because they are out of reach of U.S. laws. Movies and music are not the only stolen products that are offered by rogue sites. Counterfeit medicine, automotive parts and even baby food are a big part of the counterfeiting business, and pose a serious threat to the health of American consumers" "While some critics of online piracy and counterfeiting legislation acknowledge that intellectual property should be protected, they oppose every proposal to effectively reduce the theft of intellectual property and the counterfeiting of American products." In the coming days, SOPA will irritate many people, leaving the consequences to each individual's interpretation, many question marks will arise. The SOPA act, if passed by Congress, will cause many arguments and disputes among the government, big companies, and users. From my point of view, even if SOPA passes in Congress, it will not proceed as mentioned in the draft, but rather will be exposed to drastic changes and amendments to satisfy all parties. There are currently major controversies on the draft of resolution submitted by one of the U.S. Congressmen, Representative Lamar Smith, on October 26th 2011; the socalled SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). It is not clear yet what will happen, but for now the Internet will remain free in the United States until the end of next January, as members of the U.S. Congress postponed the deadline on this particular discussion of the bill, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which in the opinion of its authors intends to help in the fight against "electronic piracy". But many CEO's of large companies and Internet users believe that the law will restrict the freedom of Internet use in the United States, and the censorship might result in technical damage to the Internet. SOPA act is expected to replace the current Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In the United States today, if SOPA is approved, there will no longer be a need to review the official bodies as it would be possible to ask the owners of the site that publishes pirated materials, or go to court to appeal against that directly. The warning will be from SOPA and it gives 5 days to remove the materials or it will be censored. This act is welcomed and supported by Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, Dell and Intel. On the other hand it faces huge objection from Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Mozilla, eBay, Linkedln, AOL, and Zynga. GoDaddy, one of the biggest domain providers companies in the world, supported the SOPA act. Consequently, within 24 hours it faced a huge storm of account cancelations and domain transfers to competitor companies. Later, GoDaddy withdrew from supporting this act and said it "will stand by 51 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Improving implementation of S&T programs addressed at COMSTECH Executive Committee meeting Baku, Azerbaijan � The 29th Meeting of Executive Committee of COMSTECH took place in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 25 -26 November 2011. The meeting was inaugurated by the Minister of Communications and Information Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan and was attended by the Members of the Committee at the Ministerial level. Amb. Abdul Moiz Bokhari, Assistant Secretary General, in his address called upon the participants to prioritize various ongoing activities in the field of Science and Technology, Higher Education, Health and Environment. Recalling the recommendations of the Mid-term Review Meeting of the Ten Year Program of Action (TYPOA) and the Vision 1441 H , he stressed the need to take stock of the projects which were facing impediments; and recommended that the appropriate corrective measures be considered by the Committee. The Executive Committee Meeting was chaired by the Coordinator General Prof Atta-ur-Rahman, who presented a detailed report on the activities of the COMSTECH and proposed a comprehensive roadmap for the future. The Meeting reviewed the progress of implementation of the Vision 1441 H and the TYPOA since its 14th General Assembly including the various resolutions of the Council of Foreign Ministers and Islamic Summit Conferences. It took a number of important decisions with a view to improving the implementation of recommendations and streamlining the ongoing activities in the domain of Science, Technology and Innovation. The Executive Committee also considered initiatives with a view to promoting and strengthening cooperation in the field of green technologies, and the Central Asia Cooperation Framework and agreed to closely monitor its implementation in collaboration with the OIC institutions. UN Climate Conference approves landmark deal Durban, South Africa (agencies) - A UN climate conference reached a hard-fought agreement on December 11, 2011 on a far-reaching program meant to set a new course for the global fight against climate change. The 194-party conference agreed to start negotiations on a new accord that would ensure that countries will be legally bound to carry out any pledges they make. It would take effect by 2020 at the latest. The deal doesn't explicitly compel any nation to take on emissions targets, although most emerging economies have volunteered to curb the growth of their emissions. Currently, only industrial countries have legally binding emissions targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Those commitments expire next year, but they will be extended for at least another five years under the new accord � a key demand by developing countries seeking to preserve the only existing treaty regulating carbon emissions. The proposed Durban Platform offered answers about sharing the responsibility for controlling carbon emissions and helping the world's poorest and most climate-vulnerable nations cope with changing forces of nature. The new deal also sets up the bodies that will collect, govern and distribute tens of billions of dollars a year for poor countries. Other documents in the package lay out rules for monitoring and verifying emissions reductions, protecting forests, transferring clean technologies to developing countries and scores of technical issues. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the deal represents "an important advance in our work on climate change." But the deal's language left some analysts warning that the wording left huge loopholes for countries to avoid tying their emissions to legal constraints, and noted that there was no mention of penalties. Environmentalists criticized the package � as did many developing countries in the debate � for failing to address what they called the most urgent issue, to move faster and deeper in cutting carbon emissions. Scientists say that unless those emissions � chiefly carbon dioxide from power generation and industry � level out and reverse within a few years, the Earth will be set on a possibly irreversible path of rising temperatures that lead to ever greater climate catastrophes. The nearly fatal issue involved the legal nature of the accord that will govern carbon emissions by the turn of the next decade. The package gave new life to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, whose carbon emissions targets expire next year and apply only to industrial countries. A separate document obliges major developing nations like China and India, excluded under Kyoto, to accept legally binding emissions targets in the future. Together, the two documents overhaul a system designed 20 years ago that divide the world into a handful of wealthy countries facing legal obligations to reduce emissions, and the rest of the world which could undertake voluntary efforts to control carbon. The difficult clause in the documents called on countries to complete negotiations within three years on "a protocol, another legal instrument, or a legal outcome" that would succeed the Kyoto Protocol. It would need about five years for ratification. But the EU objected to the late addition of the phrase "legal outcome," which it said would allow countries to wriggle out of commitments. The final compromise changed the final option to "an agreed outcome with legal force." 52 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 Smart Cities: Information Systems Perspective Dr. Malak Talal Al-Nory, Information Systems Department Chair, College of Engineering, Effat University, Jeddah, KSA Smart City often refers to digital/intelligent cities where modern communication infrastructure provides a high quality of life. However, the term proposes much more than the technology aspects. A creation of a smart city entails a model of sustainable economic development based on Information Technology with huge investments in human and social capital, and requiring significant governance and management of resources. Some of the progressive cities that started the development of the smart city infrastructure are Dubai, Malta, Singapore, and lately Songdo in Korea. Songdo towers are constructed to meet the green building standards, neighborhoods are laid out smartly, and an urban oasis was created to complete the picture. The government built a smart public transit network and a state-of-the-art water recycling system. The main objective is to bring together the two opposites, urbanization and sustainability. The holistic nature of a Smart City concept proposes a framework for the development of Smart Cities that is not limited to technology, solutions or systems, but also constitutes the processes and the people. In this article, we discuss these three components but we look more closely into the systems component of a Smart City. With climate change and limited natural resources, urban cities around the world are becoming more aware of the importance of sustainable economy, environment responsibility, and livable communities. The focus in the Smart City solution is to provide energy-efficient, consumer focused and technology-driven cities. The framework to build a smart city focuses on three main components: � The Processes to operate the city must support industry best practices and standards, governance policies of the local government and the country, � The People of a smart city are the citizens or the service consumers, the operators of the city, and the governance bodies. Those people need to have the required knowledge and the skills to operate such cities. � The System to operate the city is an ICT platform containing an operating system and integrated communication technologies which are required to provide the infrastructure for the city. From Information Systems perspective, the development of smart cities employs many of the current information systems, such as Decision Support Systems (DSS), Operations Support Systems, Simulation and Visualization Systems,and Geographic Information Systems (GIS); it will also produce the next generation of information systems. The challenges that smart cities impose on information systems can be considered from four different aspects; Architecture, Information, Design and Use. Smart cities come with a new set of principles, organizational structures, communication protocols, and standards. The infrastructure required to develop smart cities can be considered the first step to create framework and architecture of smart cities. The infrastructure layer provides the platform needed for the basic smart city functions, such as network, and inter and intra communications and wireless sensor networks for smart cities. The second step to the infrastructure layer is the Operating System (OS) layer. OS is a specialized software to control smart city systems and applications. The third layer includes all the monitoring and control systems, such as traffic monitoring and control, health care systems, and energy and climate monitoring with smart components such as DSS, GIS, and simulation. The fourth layer provides the smart city applications, visualization systems, the mobile applications, monitoring applications, and other applications interfacing with smart devices. In fact, we are witnessing the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) because of the number of smart devices connected to the Internet today. From information systems perspective, the information, design and use of smart cities are not different than traditional information systems. The information, design, and use of Smart City information systems essentially consider the nature, organization, analysis, storage and use of information in the context of smart cities services; the abstraction, modeling, standards, protocols and tools for smart cities system design, and the ways in which people define, conceptualize, develop, evaluate, adapt, evolve and sustain information systems, including the role of users, the relation to management and organization, issues of work flow, and socio-technical practices. A smart city model features intelligence in many dimensions. The most essential are the economy, quality of living, and the environment. People and governance are the force to build the smart city model and to operate it. Infrastructure and information provide the platform to leverage the smart city model. Many challenges will appear with the progression of smart cities in the world, such as the huge investment needed for the development of the sophisticated infrastructure. The legacy systems will propose a challenge too because of the need to interface with the smart city systems. Other challenges might include privacy violation concerns, and the possibility of vandalism and wide-range destruction. 53 EDUCATION world through the provision of scholarships for students and (L-R) Amb. Bokhari, Dr. Altwaijri, Minister Al Ankary, and Minister Nordin faculty members from the less developed Member States at the universities of academically and financially advanced Member States, in such a way as to cope with the brain drain, and called for enhancing exchange at national, domestic, regional and international levels between universities, civil society Riyadh, Saudi Arabia � The Extraordinary Meeting of the OIC Ministers of Higher Education and Scientific Research met institutions and international organizations, governmental and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 4 � 5 October 2011. The Conference non- governmental alike. They also suggested the addition of some indicators, adopted a landmark document Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The document was prepared in pursuance to the decision of the including those on the new ICT-based patterns of education Fifth Session of the Ministerial Conference on Higher Education such as e-learning, open learning, and virtual learning, and those (Kuala Lumpur, 19 � 20 October 2010) that requested the OIC concerning the materialization of the social responsibility of General Secretariat and ISESCO to present it to the Extraordinary universities, which should turn into an unwavering obligation Ministerial Meeting. The KPIs is expected to serve as a means towards the community; for establishing joint funds for financing to achieve academic excellence, enhancement of research and scientific research projects involving more than one Member development (R&D), and improvement of quality of education to State; and for fostering the role of translation to give it a greater place in the universities of the Islamic world and to use it in compete with the world class universities. The opening session of the Conference was presided over by internationally disseminating research works conducted in the Dr. Khalid Al Ankary, the Minister of Higher Education of the Member States languages. The Member States underscored the need to include in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with the presence of Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, the ISESCO Director General, Dato' Seri the KPIs document an explicit criterion on innovation, and to Mohamed Khaled Nordin, the Minister of Higher Education strengthen the role of technology faculties in such a criterion, and of Malaysia and Chairman of the 5th Session, and Ambassador called for developing a mechanism to benefit from the Islamic world's experts working in Western institutions in the rating of Moiz Bokhari, Assistant Secretary General of the OIC. Ambassador Bokhari, speaking on behalf of the Secretary universities. The Member States stressed the importance of the system General of the OIC at the Inaugural Session, underscored the critical impact of higher education on the socio-economic of benchmarking as compared with the controversial approach development of the OIC Member States and in equipping the of global ranking of universities, and recommended proposing Muslim youth to address the challenges of the 21st Century. He indicators on the national systems of higher education as a observed that excellence in knowledge, research and innovation whole instead of the mere focus on such indicators pertaining to is imperative for the Muslim world to reclaim its rightful place individual universities. They also called for enhancing support for in the international arena. He stressed the importance of evolving the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World (FUIW), strategies in the field of higher education with the ultimate goal of as well as for using the Federation's platform to strengthen networking and coordination among the universities of the improving the quality of life of the Muslim Ummah. Ambassador Bokhari further urged the OIC Member States Islamic World, and publishing guides to the best implementation to effectively utilize the KPI in their respective universities to practices. The Conference adopted the document on "Key Performance enhance quality of higher education. He highlighted the importance of cooperation and development of institutional linkages and Indicators: Guidelines for Assessment, and Quality Enhancement networking for effective utilization and implementation of the for Universities in the Islamic World", and decided to organize seminars and workshops to generate awareness about the KPIs KPI guide. In addition to the OIC Ministers of Higher Education, document. It called upon the Member States to accord due observer states, and OIC institutions, the Meeting was attended priority to KPIs. The Conference requested ISESCO and the OIC to organize by a large number of higher education specialists from the OIC regularly a high level Quality and Accreditation Experts Meeting Member States. The Director General of ISESCO made a brief presentation consisting of Member States and the Islamic Organizations on the document on "Key Performance Indicators: Guidelines concerned to set up an appropriate mechanism for the follow for Assessment, and Quality Enhancement for Universities in the up of the implementation of KPIs for valorizing scientific and technological innovation, global quality and accreditation in the Islamic World". In their discussions and observations, the Member States universities of the Islamic world. A Roundtable Ministerial Meeting was held on the second stated that the document's vision, objectives and content fits within their aspiration for a comprehensive practical guide for day of the Conference on strengthening linkages and networking rating their universities. They stressed the necessity of promoting among institutions of higher education in the OIC Member partnerships and solidarity among the universities of the Islamic States. 54 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 OIC Ministers of Higher Education approve Key Performance Indicators for Universities Literacy campaign... Popular among women, Bashful within male spheres Rabat, Morocco (dpa) � Zaineb's pride is obvious as she walks down the road with her satchel, containing her notebooks and her pen, tucked carefully under her armpit. She's in her third year of education within the framework of the country's literacy campaign. Widowed in her forties, she took the decision to approach her district association in the city of Meknes (Central Morocco), driven by a feeling of emptiness after the loss of her husband, Mohammad. She registered her name for the literacy classes for which the Moroccan state had mobilized huge financial resources offering the beneficiaries the options of either picking one of the civil society institutions studding the country or one of the mosques which provide literacy classes under the supervision of the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs. A third option is the district schools whose doors are opened, after regular hours, for literacy classes. On her part, Hadja Zahra (75 yrs) views these literacy classes as a good refuge from the monotony of life. For her, it is a breathing space that has helped her develop new relations among women of her age and fulfill her deep-held desire to be able one day to read the Quran. She has benefited from her three years of literacy classes and has gained a capacity to read, to write her name and to reproduce words and figures. All the surveys have established a rising popularity of literacy classes among the womenfolk in contrast to a lukewarm appeal in the male ranks, attributable to psychological factors. In the Kingdom of Morocco, despite varying estimates concerning the numbers of the illiterate, one fact is for sure, and that is that the number of people benefiting from literacy classes is witnessing an upsurge particularly among the women who frequent societies, mosques and schools for the purpose. For the academic year 2009/ 2010, for instance, official government-declared statistics point to the enrolment of around seven hundred thousand people, bearing in mind that, according to the Supreme Council of Education (designated by King Mohammad VI to cater for educational affairs), the overall number of illiterate people in the country stood at over 8 million, prompting the government to announce that it had the capacity to reduce that figure by 20% by the end of next year. As we commemorate the Day of International Literacy, which is the 8th of December of each year, it is worth noting that the Kingdom of Morocco suffers heavy losses as a result of the high prevalence of illiteracy among its citizens. In this respect, the Literacy Department in the Ministry of National Education and Cadre-Training has already undertaken a study, in cooperation with the EU mission in Morocco, on the cost of illiteracy. It concluded that a 1% illiteracy rate costs the country an annual hefty sum of 10.3 billion Dirhams of its gross domestic product (GDP), which had been cut by 1.3% in 2010 as a result, as well as a rise of 0.1% in the birth rate, 0.326 in the death rate and a drop of 0.542 in life expectancy. These are the figures that will be summoned by the Moroccan Human Rights Society to reintroduce its call for the effectuation of the economic, social and cultural rights as an imperative for the elimination of illiteracy, which, as globally acknowledged, contributes to the elimination of poverty, the reduction of death rates and the promotion of developmental objectives and societal elevation. Hence, the Moroccan State previously assigned the task of combating illiteracy to a State Secretariat dedicated to this goal. This experiment had its shortcomings, which, following an in-depth political debate, led to its substitution by a National Literacy Agency voted in by the Parliament and the Consultative Council just before the end of the past legislative year. Many of those following this issue, view this Agency as an organ that will relieve the Government of the onerous task of tracking the winding course of the literacy campaign. Indeed, as a public institution, this Agency enjoys financial and moral independence, and is expected to monitor illiteracy and contribute to its eradication as a social affliction. Its duties include the establishment of an annual report on illiteracy in the land and the steps achieved towards its elimination. The Agency also assumes the coordination between the various parties involved in the literacy eradication effort so as to avoid any overlapping or duplication. 55 The Third Islamic Conference of Health Ministers HEALTH Calls for promotion of collective self-reliance Astana, Kazakhstan � The Third Islamic Conference of Health Ministers (ICHM), which was held in Astana, Kazakhstan on 29 September - 1 October 2011 under the theme of "Health, Wellbeing and Equality" adopted six resolutions in addition to the Astana Declaration. The resolutions covered a broad range of health-related issues in the OIC Member States. The Conference decided to establish a Health Implementation Unit (HIU) at the OIC Headquarters in Jeddah to serve as the permanent secretariat of the Steering Committee on Health and facilitate monitoring of the implementation of the resolutions and declarations emanating from the OIC Health Ministerial Conferences. The Health Ministers welcomed assistance of the Member States in this regard, including the recruitment of two health professionals and two support staff. At the inaugural session of the Conference, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu called for concerted national, regional and international action and cooperation in the domain of health. In his address to the Conference, which was read out by the Assistant Secretary General for Science and Technology Ambassador Abdul Moiz Bokhari, the Secretary General underlined the centrality of health to the overall well-being and socio-economic development of the OIC Member States. The Secretary General urged the OIC Health Ministers to conduct a comprehensive review of the status of health in the OIC Member States, examine 56 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 the health-related challenges facing them and identify concrete steps for strengthening health cooperation among the Member States. The Conference reviewed the status of health in OIC Member States and examined major health-related issues. It identified concrete measures for strengthening cooperation among the Member States with regard to health infrastructures, education, training, capacity building, disease surveillance prevention and control as well as self-reliance in drugs and vaccine production. The Health Ministers took note of the ongoing activities and projects in the field of health undertaken by the OIC General Secretariat and relevant OIC institutions, including the IDB, ISESCO, SESRIC and the Standing Committee for Science and Technology (COMSTECH). They expressed their support for further strengthening of international partnerships to address various health challenges and the ongoing cooperation between the OIC and the OIC-Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Ministers invited all OIC Member States and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to provide adequate resources for priority public health issues in the Member States, support ongoing activities of the OIC General Secretariat as well as relevant OIC institutions in the domain of health, including preventing and combating diseases establishes a Health Implementation Unit in vaccine production and supply and endemics, maternal and child health as well as health capacity-building. They underscored the need for promoting collective selfreliance in production and supply of medicines and vaccines and, in this regard, more collaboration between the Member States for improving their capacities for drugs and vaccine production and distribution in the OIC Member States and strengthening their national regulatory authorities. Moreover, they invited the Member States to promote exchange of best practices and experience in the attestation of drugs, and called upon them to strengthen cooperation, sharing of experience, expertise, best practices and technology in disaster preparedness and response activities, which include the establishment of special bodies or units for health care services in disasters. The Ministers encouraged the Member States to promote networking of medical universities, health education and medical research institutions, exchange of faculty members and joint training programs and exchange of best practices in management of health institutions. States to promote collective self-reliance in vaccine production and supply through strengthening National Regulatory Authorities and improving capacity for vaccine production and distribution in the OIC Member States. In this connection, the Declaration urged the Member States to promote and intensify research and development efforts for health systems research that can greatly enhance public health outcomes. The Declaration also praised the OIC Secretary General for taking the lead in promoting public health initiatives among the OIC Member States in collaboration with international organizations and urged the Member States to intensify their cooperation with the WHO and other international organizations to combat global health concerns, including Polio, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria as well as non-communicable diseases. Mother and Child health care was also one of the priority areas which were emphasized during the Conference. The Declaration supported the efforts of the OIC Member States to strengthen health systems and build capacity to enable a higher proportion of births to be attended by skilled health personnel to reduce preventable maternal and child mortality. It also emphasized the importance of improvement in child health as a vital element in poverty alleviation and supported cost-effective health programs, such as immunization and infant as well as young children feeding practices. The Conference was attended by Health Ministers and high-level officials from the OIC Member States and observer states. In addition to the OIC General Secretariat, representatives from the OIC institutions and international organizations such as the WHO, UNICEF, WHO/Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNFPA, Rotary International and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others also participated in the Conference. On the sidelines of the Conference Ambassador Bokhari received the Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Professor Michel Kazatchkine with whom he exchanged views for further strengthening of cooperation between the two organizations. Both sides reiterated their commitment to work together in the fight against the three communicable diseases in the OIC Member States. 57 The Declaration urged the Member States to promote and intensify research and development efforts for health systems research The Conference established a Steering Committee on Health for the period of 2011 -2013 which is composed of Kazakhstan, Iran, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Tajikistan, Djibouti, COMSTECH, SESRIC, IDB, ISESCO, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Committee was asked to expedite the preparation and finalization of the OIC Strategic Health Program of Action for the period of 2012 - 2020. The Health Ministers welcomed the offers by Indonesia and Turkey to host the 4th and 5th sessions of the Islamic Conference of Health Ministers to be held in 2013 and 2015, respectively. The Conference emphasized the importance of cooperation between the OIC Member States for selfreliance in the production and supply of medicaments and vaccines. It also urged all Member States and international organizations, including the World Health Organization to provide and mobilize adequate resources and support to protect public health and strengthen the healthcare delivery system in Palestine, occupied Syrian Golan Heights and other conflict-affected areas. On the other hand, the Ministers unanimously adopted the Astana Declaration, which called upon the OIC Member ECONOMY At COMCEC 27th Session, Ihsanoglu reports on GDP and Intra-OIC trade increase in 2010 Istanbul, Turkey � The 27th Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) held in Istanbul, Turkey on 19th of October reflected the momentum of Islamic solidarity in economic fields. In welcoming the delegates, COMCEC's Chairman H.E. Abdullah Gul, President of Turkey, stressed the importance of COMCEC as a solid platform of cooperation in the area of economy and trade. Emphasizing the recent developments in some of the Member States, President Gul called on the Member States to lead and manage the process of change so as to realize the necessary political, social, and economic reforms. Gul pointed out the opportunities and threats brought by globalization and the need to enhance solidarity and cooperation in the face of these developments. He went on to say that the current global economic outlook further calls for increasing trade and investment flows among the Member Countries. In this regard, Gul stressed the importance of COMCEC projects and programs such as Trade Preferential System of OIC (TPS-OIC), Standards and Metrology Institute of Islamic Countries (SMIIC), Stock Exchanges Forum, Central Banks Meetings, and Capital Markets Regulatory Authorities Forum, and called on the Member States to sign and ratify agreements with regard to these projects as well as to actively participate in relevant meetings with a view to enabling these projects to deliver their developmental results. In his statement before the meeting, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), reported that Islamic intra-OIC trade share rose from US$ 205 billion in 2004 to US$ 539 in 2010 recording an increase of 14.5% and 17.03% respectively notwithstanding the global economic downturn. "There is no doubt that if this trend continues, the target of attaining 20% of intra-OIC trade, which was set in the OIC Ten Year Program of Action (TYPOA) would be realized by the year 2015," said Ihsanoglu. Similarly, Ihsanoglu stated that the share of the OIC Member States in world trade increased from 8.0% in 2004 to 10.5% in 2010. The OIC Secretary General asserted that the alarming statistics regarding poverty and malnutrition in the OIC Member States can be addressed by tapping the huge opportunities within the OIC. 58 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 Ihsanoglu mentioned the OIC received the support of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) on the proposal to create an alliance between its Dakar-Djibouti Transport Corridor and the OIC Dakar-Port Sudan Railway Project. The Session addressed various challenges, notably the repercussions of Western economic crisis and the widespread unrest in the Middle East region and its effect on economic cooperation among the OIC Member States. The COMCEC meeting discussed the opportunities of economic and commercial cooperation among the OIC Member States as well as the obstacles that prevent the completion of cotton-related development as well as other agricultural projects. However, despite the increase in the intra-OIC trade since 2004, convention of various economic conferences, and launching a bouquet of promising projects, the rather slow fulfillment of the pledges related to the OIC economic projects has reduced the tempo of its achievements. Ministerial Working Session: Exchange of Views Session of the 27th Session of the COMCEC was held under the theme of "The Impact of Transportation Networks on Trade and Tourism". The Ministers underlined the importance of enhancing technical cooperation in the field of logistics and emphasized the necessity of developing a transport map, which comprises information on the transport corridors and transport modes in the OIC Member States. Dr. Cevdet Yilmaz, Minister of Development of the Republic of Turkey, made a closing statement at the Session. He underlined the vitality of the priority sectors namely, transport, tourism and agriculture, for economic and social development of member countries. In this regard, Yilmaz stated that the framework document for cooperation in transport would shed light on the future activities in this sector. Pertaining to tourism, Yilmaz emphasized the importance of COMCEC tourism platform with a view to helping the Member States to make better use of the resources and vibrancy of the private sector. He also expressed his pleasure for the remarkable progress achieved in the field of financial cooperation and invited all member countries to join the financial cooperation initiatives. First Meeting of Labor Ministers of OIC Member States: The need for scaling up vocational education and training programs Calls for convening an All-Private Sector Conference Istanbul, Turkey � The General Secretariat of Organization of the Islamic Cooperation in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security of Turkey organized the First Meeting of Labor Ministers of OIC Member States in Istanbul on 10 September 2011 on the sidelines of the 19th World Congress on Occupational Health and Safety, which took place in Istanbul, Turkey, on 11 -15 September 2011. The Meeting addressed the issue of skills mismatch with the labor market and inadequate capacity in the Member States. The Meeting was chaired by Ms. Gulshara Abdykalikova, Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Kazakhstan, and attended by ministers and high-level officials from OIC Member States, and specialized regional and international organizations. Mr. Faruk Celik, Minister of Labor and Social Security of Turkey, opened the meeting. In his speech, Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the OIC Secretary General, elaborated on the numerous OIC programs and projects aimed at widening the productive base of the OIC economy, alleviating poverty and promoting employment among the various segments within its Member States. To this end, he urged the Member States to renew their commitment to the on-going programs of OIC and its relevant institutions in the area of poverty alleviation and human resource development. The Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Center for Islamic Countries (SESRIC) gave a presentation on the theme "State of Occupational Safety and Health in OIC Member States"; and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) on "Addressing Unemployment in the OIC Member States". Realizing that the Private Sector is the engine of growth and socio-economic development, the Meeting recommended the mainstreaming of the Private Sector and Civil Society Organizations in the development process. In this regard, it called for the convening of an All-Private Sector Conference to be organized under the auspices of the relevant OIC institutions. In addition, the Meeting expressed the need for scaling up vocational education and training programs in order to enhance the productivity of labor. It therefore commended the programs undertaken by SESRIC and IDB towards addressing the contemporary problems of skills mismatch and inadequate capacity in OIC member States. The Meeting took note of current efforts to mobilize additional resources for Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) and Special Program for Development of Africa (SPDA), and called on OIC Member States and international partners to support the OIC poverty alleviation initiatives, including implementation of human resource development and infrastructural projects. Meanwhile, with agriculture accounting for an average 40% of total work force in OIC Member States, the Meeting commended the enormous work accomplished towards the elaboration of the Executive Framework for Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security in OIC Member States, and agreed to support various programs and projects contained therein, especially those relating to youth and women empowerment, and employment generation. The Meeting also underscored the need for adopting a policy integrating the available natural resources of the OIC Member States into the processes for transition from resource economy to knowledge economy through an integrated infrastructure. Furthermore, the Ministers recommended the creation of a platform for regular consultations and exchange views among Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) decision-makers and practitioners in OIC Member States, in order to coordinate policies and best practices in the domain of employment, occupational health and safety, and labor productivity. 59 ECONOMY Projects for implementation under the OIC Plan of Action for Cooperation with Central Asia identified Istanbul, Turkey � The First Executive Committee Meeting of the OIC Plan of Action for Cooperation with Central Asia was held in Istanbul, Republic of Turkey, on 18th October 2011 at the sidelines of the 27th Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the OIC (COMCEC). The Meeting discussed and approved various projects to be implemented under the OIC Plan of Action for Cooperation with Central Asia. The Meeting also identified the OIC lead institutions for implementation of the projects. The Central Asian Member Countries were encouraged to finalize necessary procedures for accession to the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) to enable them to access the various facilities under this scheme. At the same time these Member Countries were requested to submit their specific projects for technical assistance under the Aid for Trade Program to International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC). A timetable was agreed upon at the Meeting for follow-up actions before the second Executive Committee Meeting. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, held a High-Level Trade Forum on the Challenges of Achieving Intra-OIC Trade Target by 2015 at the IDB Headquarters on October 9, 2011. The meeting aimed at improving work coordination among the different departments of IDB and some other OIC institutions on trade related issues. The President of IDB Dr. Ahmed Mohamed Ali opened the meeting. He emphasized on the need for further coordination and cooperation of relevant institutions to reach the 20% target of intra-OIC trade by 2015 adopted by the Third OIC Extraordinary Summit in Makkah in 2005. Similarly, Dr. Waleed Al-Wohaib, CEO of ITFC, in his speech briefed the meeting on the initiatives of ITFC in promoting trade exchanges among the Member States under the Executive Program for Enhancing Intra-OIC Trade. He stressed on the need for: creating necessary mechanisms for promoting networking among buyers and sellers; increasing activities and investments in strategic commodities, including cotton and expanding these activities to other strategic commodities, such as electronic industries; and, paying adequate attention to the The challenges of achieving intra-OIC trade target by 2015 capacity building programs. Dr. Abdulrahman Taha, CEO of Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) also briefed the meeting on the role of ICIEC in promoting trade exchanges among the member States. In the working session on the Current and Expected IntraOIC Trade, El-Hassane Hzaine, Acting Director of ICDT, gave a presentation about the challenges to achieving the OIC trade target of 20%. The major challenges include the world financial crisis of 2008 -2009, the unrest and political instability in the Arab region 2010- 2011, and sovereign debt crisis in Euro Zone. He stressed on the need for increasing intra-OIC trade among the major OIC economies and the need for reducing and alleviating tariffs and barriers on intra-OIC trade through implementation of the Fast-Track Modality in Protocol on Preferential tariff Scheme (PRETAS). The Forum provided a go od opportunity for participants to harmonize their action and strategies in such issues as: involving the regional groups within the OIC for promoting intra-OIC trade; fast-track implementation of TPS-OIC; establishing an active networking among buyers and sellers, including trade promoting centers; and promoting the role of major economies among the Member States in increasing intra-OIC trade. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia � The meeting of the Central Banks and Monetary Authorities of the OIC member countries in Kuala Lumpur, agreed on November 16, 2011, to leverage on individual strengths and cooperate in building capacity. The four-day meeting, themed, Central Banking and Financial Sector Development, was hosted by Bank Negara Malaysia. The Governors and Heads of Delegation attending it said in a statement, that to move forward, emerging economies are expected to continue to contribute towards driving the global economic recovery and growth. "Thus, in supporting this endeavor, the potential role of Islamic Finance should be given special attention. ... In this regard, we reaffirm our commitment to strengthen collaboration in capitalizing our growth potential," they added. A key finding at the meeting was the pivotal role of an effectively functioning financial sector in supporting sound and sustainable economic development, as well as the need for 60 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 Central Banks in OIC Member States to cooperate in building capacity increased efforts to mitigate the destabilizing consequences of the financial crisis on their respective economies. The Governors also acknowledged that the financial sector had an essential role in efficiently intermediating funds towards productive economic activities so as to generate sustainable and balanced economic growth. "We discussed the importance of building strong financial institutions to serve the economy, having the necessary financial infrastructure supported and balanced by a strong regulatory and supervisory framework to safeguard financial stability," the statement also said. Other recommendations were that central banks in collaboration with the relevant government agencies should play a critical role in facilitating a nation's development agenda towards achieving sustainable and noninflationary economic growth, as well as the need to create an inclusive financial sector towards balanced economic growth. Sources of funding main obstacle to implementing OIC Cotton Action Plan Investment Forum for Resource Mobilization is to be held Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso � The first event of its kind was hosted by Burkina Faso. The OIC Forum and Exhibition on Cotton and Textile has shown that there is clearly great potential for building on this first experience and improve future exhibitions, especially that cotton is a vital sector in the economies of many OIC Member States. On the margins of the Forum and Exhibition, the Fourth Project Committee Meeting (PCM) was held on September 22, 2011. The IDB informed the meeting on the status of the projects approved during the past three PCMs. A total of 27 projects amounting to US$ 373 million were approved by this body. So far a total of 8 projects received financing: 6 from IDB and 2 from ICDT. Additionally, there are also 3 other projects that are in the pipeline of the IDB and may soon get financing. The main obstacle to securing financing for the remaining 16 projects rests in the project ownership. These projects have not yet secured the official backing of their respective countries. Other bottleneck is the limited readiness of the projects to be bankable. Many of them are still in the sketching form and need to conduct pre-feasibility studies and detailed appraisals. Number of approved multilateral projects was also limited. The Fifth Steering Committee Meeting (SCM) held on the sidelines of the Exhibition discussed the Mid-term Review of the implementation of the OIC Cotton Action Plan. Three clusters of ideas floated during the discussions: i) Source of funding; ii) Project design and ownership; and iii) Institutional set-ups and linkages. The lack of predictable source of funding of the OIC Cotton Plan was identified by the meeting as the major impediment for the successful implementation of the Plan. As IDB alone can not finance all the potential project proposals by the Member States, alternative and/ or supplementary funding mechanisms need to be set up to ensure proper financial flow into the program. The SCM suggested to greatly involving the Private Sector in the financing of cotton projects. Furthermore, the OIC Cotton Action Plan needs stronger ties with existing institutional set-ups. The cotton issue, being a sum of multifaceted activities encompassing agriculture, industry and trade, may need a specific ministerial forum to address its problems. The meeting further discussed the issues relating to the organization of the Investment Forum for Resource Mobilization for the OIC Cotton Action Plan, scheduled to take place in coming months. The forum intends to address the funding issues of the cotton projects in the OIC Member States. Old and new projects (received before the end of November 2011) will be considered for financing during the forum. Furthermore the meeting stressed the importance of involving the Private sector in this endeavor. The meeting made some recommendations to facilitate the implementation of the OIC Cotton Action Plan including efforts to tap on available financing resources within the donor community and the involvement of the Private sector in financing cotton processing and textiles projects. The Steering Committee put emphasis on having a more rigorous approving process regarding new projects submitted by Member States. 61 ECONOMY The Forum on Development of Agro-Food Industries in OIC Member States stress on Public-Private Partnerships Kampala, Uganda � The Forum on Development of Agro-Food Industries in OIC Member States was held in Kampala, Republic of Uganda, on 11 -12 October 2011. A total of 250 participants attended the Forum, comprising delegates from OIC Member States, OIC Institutions as well as FAO and representatives of Private Sector, Civil Societies and Community-based establishments. Tress Bucyanayandi, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of Uganda chaired the Forum. Olive Z. Kigongo, President of Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, delivered the opening address in which she emphasized the importance of appropriate technologies and exchange of best practices in addressing the food processing requirements of OIC countries. In his address to the Forum, delivered by Amb. Hameed A.Opeloyeru, Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs, Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the OIC, urged participants at the Forum to take into account the on-going OIC activities in support of agricultural financing, and the development of strategic agricultural commodities. He recommended the creation of an appropriate mechanism that can promote partnerships between the Public and Private Sector operators, communitybased groups, research centers and institutions. In his statement, Tress Bucyanayandi, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of Uganda highlighted the various investment opportunities in Uganda in the area of agro-processing and agribusiness and invited participants to make recommendation in order to address the major challenges of inadequate marketing and agroprocessing facilities, particularly in Uganda. Amelia Kyambadde, Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives of Uganda delivered the keynote address on behalf of H.E. Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda. In this address, the President called the participants' attention to the enormous challenges facing Uganda, Africa and OIC countries in the agricultural sector. He enumerated the series of national, regional and continental initiatives deployed to address the identified constraints, including land and water 62 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 management, infrastructure and market access, increasing food supply, and improving agricultural research and technological acquisition. The President also emphasized the need for the Forum to underscore the role of OIC Member States in promoting agricultural investment through creating conducive environment for public-private partnerships. After presentations and exhaustive interventions by participants, the Forum made the following recommendations: � Enhancing intra-OIC investment in agro-food processing sector as well as creating a dedicated fund for agro-industrial development within the existing IDB funding windows for agricultural development; � Governments should encourage the creation of platforms for grass-root participation in the agricultural policy advocacy and access to investment funds through the formation of farmers' cooperatives and similar formal farming communities; � Addressing the constraints of inadequate farm inputs through popularising micro-leasing and similar financing mechanisms; � Increasing communication on IDB funding windows and similar activities, while expanding its operations to include rural communities, youth and women; � Ensuring that research, extension, educational and farmers' institutions offer skills that are relevant to the needs of farming communities, including necessity for transfer of those technologies, which are appropriate and relevant to existing conditions and realities of the farming population; � Conducting a comprehensive study on the modalities for the creation of OIC Agro-Industrial Association and determine the specific activities and priorities for PublicPrivate Partnership among the various stakeholders within the OIC for the promotion of agro-industrial development; � Supporting research that will enhance the development of agro-food industries in OIC Member States; � Developing effective mechanisms to promote access to credit and markets within the framework of the OIC Trade Preferential System (TPS-OIC). OIC Ministers of Agriculture: Need for enhancing joint investment opportunities on food security Istanbul, Turkey � The Sixth OIC Ministerial Conference on Food Security and Agricultural Development could not have been held at a more crucial time as disasters of draught, flooding, clime change, and poverty continue to increase in rate coupled with a world population that hit the 7 billion mark in September. The Conference held in Istanbul, Turkey, on 3 -6 October 2011 preceded by a Senior Officials Meeting. A total of 216 delegates participated at the Conference, comprising Ministers and Heads of Delegation from OIC Member States, ObserverCountries, International Organizations and Institutions. In his speech before the Conference Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), expressed appreciation to the OIC Task Force on Food Security for the work so far accomplished towards the elaboration of the OIC Executive Framework for Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security. He urged Member States to continue to support the earlier conclusion of this comprehensive blue-print for intra-OIC cooperation on food security. Meanwhile, in his opening address, Mehmet Mehdi Eker, the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock of Turkey and Chairman of the Conference, drew attention to the challenges of price volatilities in the agricultural commodity markets and the need to determine the causes of this phenomenon, while also suggesting that the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for the Islamic Countries (SESRIC) could be entrusted with the task of compiling and updating the inventories on agricultural production in OIC Member States. Dr. David Nabarro, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of United Nations on Food Security and Nutrition, elaborated on the diverse areas of possible cooperation between the OIC and the UN family towards ensuring sustainable agricultural development and food security in OIC Member States. Ministers and Heads of Delegation addressed the Conference on their national programs on food security, and agricultural and rural development, detailing their respective countries' experiences and recommending required actions for active intra-OIC cooperation. At the Senior Officials Meeting the presentations of the delegations of Member States featured actions and challenges in the various areas such as state subsidies to farmers, natural resource management, water saving, information sharing, diversification of crop production, climate change, establishment of grain reserves, as well as exchanging agricultural experts, researchers, planners and policy makers, among others. Other areas considered included risk management, establishment of agricultural insurance systems, creation of cereals strategic reserves, role of private sector, transparency and good economic corporate governance, training, research and development. The meeting also listened to presentations on the need for certification of food products as well as creation of an appropriate emergency response mechanism. The FAO representative briefed the Meeting about the establishment of a website for the collation of information from member states. The Conference also reviewed the various presentations on possible areas of collaboration between OIC and other international organizations and institutions, such as the COMCEC Coordination Office, World Food Program (WFP), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Ministers reiterated the need for the OIC Member States to allocate more resources from their national budgets to agricultural development and food security programs. They commended those OIC Member States, which have established capacity building programs for OIC countries and special funds for food security programs, and urged other countries to establish similar programs within the framework of OIC South-South Cooperation. The Agriculture Ministers made a recommendation for enhancing joint investment opportunities between Member States through conducting inventory studies, exploring potentials, exchange of know-how and enhancing the transparency of information, in the area of agriculture and food security. They also recommended the establishment of safety nets, risk management mechanisms, agricultural insurance systems, and measures to facilitate market access for the products of smallholders and to mitigate the effects of price volatilities. Meanwhile, they urged OIC Member States to continue to support cross-border and regional projects aimed at enhancing intra-OIC cooperation in the area of agriculture, rural development and food security. The Ministers supported the proposal by Kazakhstan on the establishment of an OIC Food Security Office in Kazakhstan. They called upon the Public and Private Companies operating in the field of Agro-Business Industry in the OIC Member States to actively participate in fairs and exhibitions in order to improve intra-OIC trade. The Conference commended the on-going regional and international partnerships for the implementation of Food Security Programs in OIC Member States. It also commended the tripartite agreement initiative established by IDB, FAO and other development partners, aimed at intensifying SouthSouth cooperation within the OIC and the framework cofinancing agreement for US$ 1.5 billion signed between IDB and IFAD. Senegal offered to host the Seventh Ministerial Conference on Food Security and Agricultural Development in December 2012. 63 ECONOMY OIC seeks to promote the role of the private sector Istanbul, Turkey � Efforts to increase the involvement of the Private Sector in the socio-economic development of OIC Member States, through collaboration with the regional organizations, were the thrust of the Keynote Message of Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu at the 2nd Bosporus Regional Cooperation Summit, which concluded its proceedings in Istanbul, Turkey on 25 November 2011. Explaining the need for mobilizing intra-OIC financial resources to increase investments in the various strategic economic sectors, the Secretary-General emphasized that the OIC Ten-Year Program of Action sought to establish extensive regional cooperation among the various regional groupings with common membership with the OIC. He explained that the varied nature of the economic resources at the disposal of OIC Member States made collaboration among the 57 member states of the Organization and other regional economic groupings mutually reinforcing and beneficial. The Secretary General also urged participants at the Summit to give consideration to consolidating partnership with the OIC so as to encourage inter-governmental actions aimed at facilitating access to the almost 1.5 billion-strong market of the OIC, while at the same time developing the huge potentials of the plethora of Small and Medium Enterprises in OIC Member States and their Private Sector. The 2nd Bosporus Regional Economic Summit, which brought together decision makers and representatives of the public and private sectors in 41 countries from Asia, Middle East and North Africa, was held under the patronage of President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. In addition to the OIC General Secretariat, key attendees at the Summit included Ministers from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Jordan; senior public officials, CEOs of major corporate organizations and leading members of the intelligentsia and the Civil Society in the Middle East, North Africa and Asian region. Issues reviewed at the Summit included the creation of new partnerships to scale up the role of business, women and youth within a trust-focused neighborhood policy in the region. The various panels discussed related policies in the domains of finance and banking, construction, energy, ICT, Transportation and logistics, Defense Industry, Agriculture and Education. the OIC General Secretariat on behalf of the OIC Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � Officials of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Secretary-General While highlighting the activities of the Fund International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have agreed on the need to intensify towards eliminating poverty, raising agricultural productivity and incomes of rural population in OIC and deepen their partnership and cooperation towards assisting the vulnerable segments of the countries, the President emphasized that continued global partnership was a fundamental prerequisite populations of their common Member States. The agreement was reached at end of the visit by Dr. for success in the fight against poverty. The General Secretariat had provided extensive Kanayo F. Nwanze, the President of the IFAD, and his accompanying delegation to the OIC General briefings on the on-going cooperation between OIC Amb. Opeloyeru and IFAD in the area of agriculture, rural development Secretariat on 20 September 2011. and food security. The two sides explored possibility Amb. Hameed A. Opeloyeru, Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs, and Amb. Vefahan Ocak, Chief of scaling up their cooperation in such areas as post-emergency Advisor to the Secretary General and Director General of the recovery in Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan and Niger and to Cabinet received the IFAD President and his delegation at cooperate closely on the OIC Cotton Action Plan. OIC, IFAD discuss areas of further cooperation Qatar calls on Islamic countries to take advantage of potentials Doha, Qatar � The Prime Minister of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani called on the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to take advantage of the tremendous potentials of resources available to serve their development goals. Addressing the inaugural session of the Second Annual Conference of the Business Owners Union on December 4, 2011 in Doha, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said: "If we had all these huge potentials and did not take advantage of them, then we do not have anything. The real value lies in our ability to take advantage of what exists and to direct it towards serving the development goals." He said the economic reality of the OIC Member States confirms that there are a lot of positive elements which provide for the establishment of a strong and effective economic entity, "but the relations and indicators which we see on the ground, 64 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 confirm that the available resources, that constitute points of strength for the start of economic integration among the Islamic world countries, are in themselves constraints and obstacles facing those trends". He said with regard to human resources, the population in the Muslim world exceeded a billion and a half, or 25 per cent of the world's population with a high percentage of them at working age but no jobs available for them to work. Therefore it is important to take advantage of this human resource as employment would contribute to the provision of skilled labor, he said. With regard to food security, the Prime Minister said, cultivated area in the Islamic states totals 14.09 per cent of the overall area while there are vast areas of arable land yet to be exploited, yet we spend more than US$35 billion annually to import food, stressing that the same applies to national natural resources and energy. Concerning the new technologies, which are main elements of production and services, the Muslim world is lagging behind many countries of the world whether at the level of individual countries or the general scale. This year's two-day event was held here in collaboration with the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry and under the patronage of Sheikh Hamad. Along with OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Conference gathered more than 1,200 business leaders, ministers of commerce and heads of the chambers of commerce and industry from 40 OIC member countries. IDB 2012 operation plan emphasizes human, agriculture and rural development Jeddah, Saudi Arabia � The 279th meeting of the Board of Executive Directors of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), which convened on November 20, 2011 at IDB headquarters in Jeddah, wrapped up work after discussing the proposed operation plans of the Bank for the year 2012 which envisages greater emphasis on human development as well as agriculture and rural development. A report on IDB performance was also presented at the session, which highlighted an unprecedented posting of a target of more than US$ 4.2 billion in development financing for the year 2011, the highest amount of approvals in a single Budget Year since the Bank commenced operations in 1975. In line with IDB vision for the year 2020 foreseeing it as a world class organization and promoting its continued presence in its member countries, the meeting also approved the launching of five IDB Pilot Gateway Offices in Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nigeria to follow up implementation of IDB projects and activities therein and conducting feasibility studies for launching of similar offices in other member countries. Various development projects were also approved at the meeting, including a US$ 53 million proposal for "IDB's Participation in Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD)'s SME Fund for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" as well as a US$ 105 million "power generation program in Mauritania", a US$ 4 million "quarantine facility in Maldives" and a US$ 11 million "national roads support program in Morocco". The IDB Board members further passed a US$ 6.5 million proposal to "Participate in the Equity Capital of Jaiz International PLC", Nigeria, a US$ 5.3 million for "IDB's Participation in the Capital Increase of Allied Cooperative Insurance Group (ACIG), Saudi Arabia, in addition to educational support projects under IDB Waqf Fund for Muslim communities in Ecuador, India, Latvia, Mauritius, Nepal and Somalia. Within the framework of the sustainable villages program operated by the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD), the Board approved US$ 200,000 as technical assistance (T.A.) for projects in Chad and US$ 310,000 for projects in West Darfur, Sudan. Based on earlier ratifications of the Board, the IDB President also dedicated US$ 50 million in the form of Mudaraba and a US$ 320,000 as T.A. grant, both for youth employment support programs in Tunisia. IDB President highlights contributions of Islamic Finance to Global Financial Stability New York, USA � In his address at the credit default swaps played in the present financial Columbia University's World Leaders Forum, Dr. crisis, financial instruments can play a positive role Ahmad Mohamed Ali, President of the Islamic in encouraging healthy expansion of credit and Development Bank (IDB) Group, highlighted the economic growth when properly regulated; 4) all potential contribution of the emerging Islamic financial institutions need to be properly regulated financial industry towards enhancing stability and and supervised so that they remain healthy; and 5) resilience of the global financial system. respite needs to be given to the debtors who are "The principles of Islamic finance are capable in distress, so as not to cause misery and agony to of minimizing the severity and frequency of them by auctioning off their properties at giveaway financial crises by introducing greater discipline prices." into the global financial system and requiring He concluded by noting: "Let me emphasize IDB President Dr. Ali the financier to bear or share in the risk. Islamic that the essential principles of Islamic finance are finance also requires the creditor to bear the risk of default by not specific to the Islamic faith. They are a part of not only the prohibiting the sale of debt, thereby creating a proper enabling divine religious but also secular paradigms. Therefore, the main environment for ensuring due diligence by those who extend message of Islamic finance, while ethical, is also universal. At credit." a time when world leaders are calling for financial reforms, it President Ali elaborated: "Some of the elements of the is appropriate to have our financial systems rebuilt on widely Islamic financial system which are indispensable for ensuring accepted ethical and moral bases to serve the common good the health and stability of the global financial system are: 1) of humanity." the share of equity in total financing needs to be increased and The President expressed his deep gratitude to Professor that of debt reduced. 2) credit needs to be confined primarily Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia to transactions that are related to the real sector so as to ensure University, who is a real friend to the IDB and works with the that credit expansion moves more or less in tandem with the institution on its Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development and growth of the real economy; 3) Despite the negative role that its engagement in the Millennium Development Goals." 65 ECONOMY Ihsanoglu calls for creation of private sector-led intra-OIC clusters to achieve economic transformation in OIC Member States Istanbul, Turkey - Several proposals have been made on modalities for increasing economic productivity in OIC Member States through support for private innovation, entrepreneurship and increased role of the Private Sector. These proposals were proffered during the OIC Forum on Public Private Partnership and Development of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in OIC Member States, held on 3 December 2011, on the sidelines of the Second Global Summit on Entrepreneurship, which took place in Istanbul on 3 - 6 December 2011. The Forum was organized by the General Secretariat of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in collaboration with the Governments of Turkey and the United States of America. In his keynote speech, Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the OIC Secretary General outlined the numerous OIC initiatives on promotion of the role of the Private Sector and SMEs for the socio-economic transformation of OIC Member States in such areas as investment promotion and human capacity development. He called for the creation of special forums for cooperation between public officers and private sector operatives, in order to increase knowledge-sharing and facilitate free flow of goods and services across OIC borders. He also called for the creation of Private Sector-led intra-OIC clusters in such areas as agrofood processing, transportation and logistics, manufacturing and services. The Forum, which was attended by scores of senior Private Sector captains with particular interest in promoting commercial relations with the OIC Member States, was also addressed by Dr. Cevdet Yilmaz, Minister of Development of Turkey, and Mr. Rashad Hussain, Special Envoy of the USA to the OIC. Following interventions and presentations, the Forum made a set of recommendations aimed at creating enabling environment for the Private Sector Development, especially for the promotion of entrepreneurship in the OIC Member States. Foremost among these recommendations are promoting public private partnership and closer cooperation with international organizations for increased technological and funding support for the SMEs development and collaboration with the Private Sector in OIC Member States; and creating a networking mechanism among technology and business incubators in OIC Member States. The Secretary General participated in the Session on the New Interaction Areas Brought About by Globalization, the Role of States and International Organization in Fostering Global Entrepreneurship, where he enumerated the core activities of the on-going initiatives for cooperation among OIC SMEs as the creation of a favorable policy and regulatory environment, strong and sustainable institutions providing financial assistance, and improved market access. Others include employment generation for women and youth, rural development and social safety nets, and acquisition of appropriate technology. The Second Partnership Summit is an initiative by the Administration of President Barack Obama to promote economic cooperation and partnership between the United States of America and the Islamic World through developing entrepreneurial spirit among communities in the OIC Member States. While the inaugural Summit was held in Washington in 2010, the third edition would be held in the United Arab Emirates in 2012. 66 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 KINGDOM OF MOROCCO Full Name: Kingdom of Morocco Capital: Rabat Population: 32,208,557 (2011 estimate) Official Language: Arabic, Amazigh Monetary Unit: Moroccan dirham Overview Morocco is part of the Maghreb region in addition to Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania and Libya, with which it shares cultural, historical and linguistic ties. The country is a de jure constitutional parliamentary monarchy with an elected parliament. With the 2011 constitutional reforms, the King of Morocco retains few executive powers whereas those of the prime minister have been enlarged. Opposition political parties are legal. Politics of Morocco take place in a framework of a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister of Morocco is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Assembly of Representatives and the Assembly of Councilors. The Moroccan Constitution provides for a monarchy with a Parliament and an independent judiciary. The political capital of Morocco is Rabat, and the largest city is Casablanca. Other large cities include Marrakesh, Tetouan, Tangier, Sal�, Fes, Agadir, Meknes and Oujda. Most Moroccans speak at least one of the two languages, Arabic and Berber. Both languages have regional dialects and accents. Geography Morocco is a Northern African country, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Mauritania. The climate is Mediterranean in the North and in some mountains (West of Atlas), which becomes more extreme towards the interior regions. The terrain is such that the coastal plains are rich and accordingly, they comprise the backbone for agriculture, especially in the North. Economy Morocco's economy is considered a relatively liberal economy. Since 1993, the country has followed a policy of privatization of certain economic sectors which used to be in the hands of the government. Economic growth is far more diversified, with new service and industrial poles, like Casablanca and Tangier, developing. The agriculture sector is being rehabilitated, which in combination with good rainfalls led to a growth of over 20% in 2009. The services sector accounts for just over half of GDP and industry, made up of mining, construction and manufacturing, is an additional quarter. The sectors which recorded the highest growth are tourism, telecommunications, information technology, and textile sectors. Agriculture sector accounts for around 14% of GDP but employs 40�45% of the Moroccan population. With a semi-arid climate, it is difficult to assure good rainfall and Morocco's agricultural production varies depending on the weather. The economic system of the country presents several facets. It is characterized by a large opening towards the outside world. The major resources of the Moroccan economy include agriculture, phosphates, and tourism. Sales of fish and seafood are important as well. Industry and mining contribute about one-third of the annual GDP. Morocco is the world's third-largest producer of phosphorus after China and the USA. Culture Morocco has always been a land of cultural exchanges and encounters given its strategically-located position between the Mediterranean and Atlantic, Europe and Africa. The country's long-standing history has undoubtedly contributed to the emergence of a rich, authentic and diversified culture that takes several forms and manifestations, such as architecture, clothing, handicrafts, traditional music, folklore and gastronomy. To celebrate its cultural diversity, Morocco lives annually at the pace of its festivals, moussems and other cultural events and it becomes the theatre dedicated to the various local and universal modes of cultural expression. Tourism Morocco, with its fascinating history, culture, and spectacular scenery, is a wonderful country that offers a unique experience to its visitors. In terms of its natural beauty, Morocco boasts a remarkable contrast of snows that cover the Atlas Mountains, of magnificent beaches alongside the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea and of huge golden sand dunes of the Sahara. The majestic cities and impressive southern Kasbahs complement each other to provide a wonderful, varied adventure and a glimpse into Morocco's fascinating past. Its unique cultural diversity provides its visitors with lifetime wonderful memories. 67 C O U N T R Y P R O F I L E VIEWPOINT Arab spring Ambassador Saadeddin Taib Advisor to the OIC Secretary General, OIC During the last few decades, the countries of the Middle East have certainly suffered under a string of appalling regimes. But this is also a region where debates over how to limit the power of rulers led to a sustained constitutional effervescence in Tunisia and Egypt since the nineteen century. What is unique about the Arab Spring is that the revolts in these countries were internal ones, with no link in its preparation, or masterminding with any outside forces. Now it is expected that the fall of the former regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya will lead to a democratic change in the regional maps. The immediate result of these revolutions was the fact that it instilled in Arab populations a sense of pride in shaking off decades of cowed passivity under dictatorships that ruled them. Moreover, Western media started to cover Arab events in the Middle East more frequently and more positively. A change of perception about the Arabs and Muslims is clearly emerging. Transformation has barely begun, and one is inclined to wait and see. It is not wise to judge the so-called Arab Spring, and foretell its impact on the Arab region. We cannot tell for sure when it will end. We cannot predict if we have to live through another year of revolution or ten years. But it is useful to try to understand this phenomenon which resonates across the globe and its impact is no more limited to the Arabic region. First, we have to differentiate between evolution and revolution. We have to explore the reasons that unleashed this unexpected Arab awakening. This awakening cannot be compared to the revolution of the "East European Spring" � that occurred in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union � because that Spring's influence on the world's affairs remained subdued and very limited. The Arab world was directly impacted by the Tunisian revolution in various manners. To fathom the uniqueness of the Arab Spring revolution, one should look at the huge effort put to remove Saddam Hussain from power. It took from the United States twenty difficult and long years to do so. It started by the war to liberate Kuwait in 1990, to be followed by thirteen years of imposing sanctions, and no-fly zone, and eight years of outright occupation. 68 the OIC Journal www.oic-oci.org Sept - Dec 2011 In the Arab Spring we are watching the collapse of well entrenched and strong regimes like the Tunisian Benali, Egyptian Mubarak, and Libyan Kaddafi, to be followed probably by the regime of Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, and possibly Bashar Assad in Syria. These downfalls are huge in their volume, and unexpected and surprising in their timing. But we have to ponder the multiple causes and reasons combined that led to this astounding result in the Arab world. Among these causes we can discern the lack of rotation of power, the manipulation of governance, corruption, poverty, unemployment, the marginalization of the fringe segments of population and minorities, as well as the youth. The commonalities between these countries is that those who led the revolutions are the youth who represent 70% of the population of the Middle East and who were governed by a segment of aged population that represent less than 7% of the population. The point that I consider as the most important, is the collective consciousness of the people. In the case of Tunisia for example, the people's revolt occurred after a suicide of a young man was who was deprived from the means of subsistence. On the basis of the aforesaid, one can assert that the revolt in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya was an internal revolt with no link to outside forces. Now it is expected that the fall of these regimes will lead to a dramatic change in the regional map of internal and external alliances. Nothing had been definitely resolved in any Arab countries not even in Tunisia or Egypt. Real transformation has barely begun. All can turn sour. In Egypt the revolt started following a death of a political activist in a police station. A strange outcome seems to be emerging from the Arab Spring. There is no denial that this Spring was conceived, masterminded and implemented by the youth who were secular, enlightened with an inclination toward modernization. However, after the good performance of "Islamist" in Tunisia, they are now on the verge of a similar victory in other Middle Eastern countries. How have the "Islamists" managed to amass the fruits of what the secular youth have planted? The first free and fair election in Tunisia, gave the majority to the Islamist. But the question remains, are the leaders of Nahda today the same leaders who used to call themselves the party of the Islamic Tawheed? Did not they change during the last thirty years of exile, persecution, suffering and difficult struggle? Did not they learn lessons from the difficulties and from living under democratic regimes in Europe? Did not they live democracy in action in England, France and Germany? They must have learned lessons in good governance and changed their views about governance and embraced the values of the twenty first century of diversity, pluralism and the recognition of the other far from bigotry and extremism. We pray and hope that we are heading towards an era during which an enlightened spirit will be the dominant factor of the future political life in the Arab Spring countries. Somalia � The worst drought in 60 years � 3.7 million at risk of starvation, most of them are women and children � Famine declared in several regions, tens of thousands have died � 3 million are displaced in camps � Urgently needed interventions are: food aid, water, nutrition and medicine Contributions to the OIC Humanitarian Campaign for Somalia may be made at the following accounts: Account Name: OIC General Secretariat Bank: SAMBA Financial Group, Al-Andalus Street, Jeddah Account Number: 5600758 IBAN: SA 29 4000 0000 0000 0560 0758 SWIFT: SAMBSARI Account Name: OIC-Humanitarian Coordination Office Somalia Bank DAHABSHIL BANK INTERNATIONAL Place Du 27 J Uin, Djibouti Account Number 101593 SWIFT Code DBISDJJ2 Corresponding Bank Noor Islamic Bank, Dubai-UAE SWIFT Code NISLAEAD Turkish Lira account Bank: Ziraat Bankasi, Beikta ubesi, Istanbul Bank Branch: code (529) IBAN: TR 620001000 5295 745 740 15001 Account No: 57457401 5001 Opened in the name of: Islam Tarih Sanat ve Kultur Arastirma Merkezi (IRCICA) Turkish US$ account Bank: Ziraat Bankasi, Beikta ubesi, Istanbul Bank Branch: code (529) IBAN: TR 350001000 5295 745 740 15002 Account No: 57457401 5002 Opened in the name of: Islam Tarih Sanat ve Kultur Arastirma Merkezi (IRCICA) Turkish EURO account Bank: Ziraat Bankasi, Beikta ubesi, Istanbul Bank Branch: code (529) IBAN: TR 08000 1000 5295 745740 15003 Account No: 57457401 5003 Opened in the name of: Islam Tarih Sanat ve Kultur Arastirma Merkezi (IRCICA) To join the OIC Alliance to relieve Somalia: OIC Humanitarian Affairs Department (ICHAD) Focal Point: Mr. Saidi Kasajja, Email: email@example.com Telephone: 9665222-651-2-, Ext-1402. Fax: 9662288-651-2-. OIC Humanitarian Coordination Office, Somalia Focal Point: Mr. Ahmed Adam, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone: 2522800-093-. Fax: 2520400-093-.