The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (The OIC; Arabic: منظمة التعاون الإسلامي; French: Organisation de la coopération islamique) is an international organization founded in 1969, consisting of 57 member states, with a collective population of over 1.8 billion as of 2015. The organisation states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”.
The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union. The official languages of the OIC are Arabic, English, and French.
On 21 August 1969 a fire was started in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Israel-controlled Jerusalem. Amin al-Husseini, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, called the arson a “Jewish crime” and called for all Muslim heads of state to convene a summit. (The fire, which “destroyed part of the old wooden roof and a 800-year-old pulpit” was blamed on the mental illness of the perpetrator — Australian Christian fundamentalist Denis Michael Rohan — by Israel, and on Zionists and Zionism in general by the Islamic conference.)
On 25 September 1969, an Islamic Conference, a summit of representatives of 24 Muslim majority countries (most of the representatives being heads of state), was held in Rabat, Morocco. A resolution was passed stating that
“Muslim government would consult with a view to promoting among themselves close cooperation and mutual assistance in the economic, scientific, cultural and spiritual fields, inspired by the immortal teachings of Islam.”
Six months later in March 1970 metal lime squeezer, the First Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers was held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In 1972, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC, now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) was founded.
While the al-Aqsa fire is regarded as one of the catalysts for the formation of the OIC, many Muslims have aspired to a pan-Islamic institution that would serve the common political, economic, and social interests of the ummah (Muslim community) since the 19th century. In particular, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the Caliphate after World War I left a vacuum.
According to its charter, the OIC aims to preserve Islamic social and economic values; promote solidarity amongst member states; increase cooperation in social, economic, cultural, scientific, and political areas; uphold international peace and security; and advance education, particularly in the fields of science and technology.
The emblem of the OIC contains three main elements that reflect its vision and mission as incorporated in its new Charter. These elements are: the Kaaba, the Globe, and the Crescent.
On 5 August 1990, 45 foreign ministers of the OIC adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam to serve as a guidance for the member states in the matters of human rights in as much as they are compatible with the Sharia, or Quranic Law.
In June 2008, the OIC conducted a formal revision of its charter. The revised charter set out to promote human rights, fundamental freedoms, and good governance in all member states. The revisions also removed any mention of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. Within the revised charter, the OIC has chosen to support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law.
According to the UNHCR, OIC countries hosted 18 million refugees by the end of 2010. Since then OIC members have absorbed refugees from other conflicts, including the uprising in Syria. In May 2012, the OIC addressed these concerns at the “Refugees in the Muslim World” conference in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
On 28 June 2011 during the 38th Council of Foreign Ministers meeting (CFM) in Astana, Kazakhstan, the organisation changed its name from Organisation of the Islamic Conference (Arabic: منظمة المؤتمر الإسلامي; French: Organisation de la Conférence Islamique) to its current name. The OIC also changed its logo at this time.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has 57 members, 56 of which are also member states of the United Nations. Some, especially in West Africa and South America, are – though with large Muslim populations – not necessarily Muslim majority countries. A few countries with significant Muslim populations, such as Russia and Thailand, sit as Observer States, while others, such as India and Ethiopia, are not members.
The collective population of OIC member states is over 1.6 billion as of 2008.
The Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUOICM) was established in Iran in 1999, and its head office is situated in Tehran. Only OIC members are entitled to membership in the union.
On 27 June 2007, then-United States President George W. Bush announced that the United States would establish an envoy to the OIC. Bush said of the envoy, “Our special envoy will listen to and learn from representatives from Muslim states, and will share with them America’s views and values best meat tenderizer.” As of June 2015, Arsalan Suleman is acting special envoy. He was appointed on 13 February 2015. In an investigation of the accuracy of a series of chain emails, Snopes.com reported that during the October 2003 – April 2004 session of the General Assembly, 17 individual members of the OIC voted against the United States 88% of the time.
The OIC, on 28 March 2008, joined the criticism of the film Fitna by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, which features disturbing images of violent acts juxtaposed with alleged verses from the Quran.
In March 2015, the OIC announced its support for the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis.
The OIC supports a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
The OIC has called for a boycott of Israeli products in effort to pressure Israel into ending the occupation of the Palestinian territories.
There was a meeting in Conakry in 2013. Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said that foreign ministers would discuss the possibility of cutting ties with any state that recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or that moves its embassy to its environs.
In December 2017, the extraordinary meeting held to response Donald Trump’s decision on recognizing Jerusalem, resulting “Istanbul Declaration on Freedom for Al Quds.”
Cartoons of Muhammad, published in a Danish newspaper in September 2005, were found offensive by a number of Muslims. Third Extraordinary Session of the Islamic Summit Conference in December 2005 condemned publication of the cartoons, resulting in broader coverage of the issue by news media in Muslim countries. Subsequently, violent demonstrations throughout the Islamic world resulted in several deaths.
OIC created the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. While proponents claim it is not an alternative to the UDHR, but rather complementary to it, Article 24 states that “all the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah” and Article 25 follows with “the Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.” Attempts to have it adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council have met increasing criticism, because of its contradiction of the UDHR, including from liberal Muslim groups. Critics of the CDHR state bluntly that it is “manipulation and hypocrisy,” “designed to dilute, if not altogether eliminate, civil and political rights protected by international law” and attempts to “circumvent these principles [of freedom and equality].”
Human Rights Watch says that OIC has “fought doggedly” and successfully within the United Nations Human Rights Council to shield states from criticism, except when it comes to criticism of Israel. For example, when independent experts reported violations of human rights in the 2006 Lebanon War, “state after state from the OIC took the floor to denounce the experts for daring to look beyond Israeli violations to discuss Hezbollah’s as well.” OIC demands that the council “should work cooperatively with abusive governments rather than condemn them.” HRW responds that this works with those who are willing to cooperate; others exploit the passivity.
The OIC has been criticised for failing to discuss the treatment of ethnic minorities within member countries, such as the oppression of the Kurds in Syria and Turkey, the Ahwaz in Iran, the Hazaras in Afghanistan, the ‘Al-Akhdam’ in Yemen, or the Berbers in Algeria.
Along with the revisions of the OIC’s charter in 2008, the member states created the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC). The IPHRC is an advisory body, independent from the OIC, composed of eighteen individuals from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds. The IPHRC has the power to monitor human rights within the member states and facilitates the integration of human rights into all OIC mandates. The IPHRC also aids in the promotion of political, civil, and economic rights in all member states.
In September 2017, the Independent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the OIC strongly condemned the human rights violations against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
In March 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council held its first discussion of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, following the 2011 passage of a resolution supporting LGBT rights proposed by the Republic of South Africa. Pakistan’s representative addressed the session on behalf of the OIC, denouncing the discussion and questioning the concept of sexual orientation, which he said was being used to promote “licentious behaviour … against the fundamental teachings of various religions, including Islam”. He stated that the council should not discuss the topic again. Most Arab countries and some African ones later walked out of the session.
Nonetheless, OIC members Albania, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, and Sierra Leone have signed a UN Declaration supporting LGBT rights in the General Assembly.
In May 2016, 57 countries including Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation requested the removal of LGBT associations from 2016 High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS sparked protests by the United States, Canada, the European Union and LGBT communities.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held its first science and technology summit at the level of head of state and government in Astana, Republic of Kazakhstan, on 10-11 September 2017.
Astana Summit was a historic milestone as it unified a collective position at the highest levels of decision-making in OIC Member States with a view to advancing the different fields of science, technology and innovation, while emphasizing the Muslim world’s resolve to promote scientific and technical development.
The Summit underscored the Member States’ support for scientific fields by demonstrating the Muslim world’s knowledge contributions away from the negative stereotypes that have become widespread recently.
The Summit is also of significance considering that Muslims constitute a quarter of the world population and their countries possess abundant natural resources, although many Islamic countries still suffer poverty and diseases. It is therefore imperative to address these challenges using available resources, especially as this Summit is only the starting point for finding solutions to the countless problems facing the Muslim world using science and technology. Statistics have shown that OIC Member States are below the 2016 innovation index general rate standing at 36.9, particularly in the areas of space, information technologies, pharmaceutical industries and electronics. Muslim countries, however, have a large youth population; a situation that imposes more challenges but also offers greater opportunities. The Summit could contribute to combating extremism and terrorism by reducing unemployment rates and attracting the youth to work in scientific and technological fields. It is worth mentioning that Member States’ interest in the areas of science and technology started since the 10th Islamic Summit held in Malaysia in 2003, the 3rd Extraordinary Islamic Summit in Makkah Al-Mukarramah which adopted the OIC 10-Year Programme of Action, and the 13th Islamic Summit Conference held in Istanbul in 2016, which launched the 2nd 10-Year Programme of Action 2016-2025. The 12th Islamic Summit held in Cairo in 2013 had mandated the OIC General Secretariat and the Standing Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) to organize the first Islamic summit on science and technology in the history of the OIC. All those summits emphasized the need to attach importance to the areas of science, technology and innovation for the development of socio-economic sectors in OIC countries.
The Astana Declaration is a policy guidance adopted by OIC members at the Astana Summit. The Astana Declaration commits members to increase investment in science and technology, education, eradicate extreme poverty, and implement UN Sustainable Development Goals.
In 1999, OIC adopted the OIC Convention on Combatting International Terrorism. Human Rights Watch has noted that the definition of terrorism in article 1 describes “any act or threat of violence carried out with the aim of, among other things, imperiling people’s honour, occupying or seizing public or private property, or threatening the stability, territorial integrity, political unity or sovereignty of a state.” HRW views this as vague, ill-defined and including much that is outside the generally accepted understandings of the concept of terrorism. In HRW’s view, it labels, or could easily be used to label, as terrorist actions, acts of peaceful expression, association, and assembly.
Legal scholar Ben Saul of University of Sydney argues that the definition is subjective and ambiguous and concludes that there is “serious danger of the abusive use of terrorist prosecutions against political opponents” and others.
Furthermore, HRW is concerned by OIC’s apparent unwillingness to recognise as terrorism acts that serve causes endorsed by their member states. Article 2 reads: “Peoples’ struggle including armed struggle against foreign occupation, aggression, colonialism, and hegemony, aimed at liberation and self-determination.” HRW has suggested to OIC that they embrace “longstanding and universally recognised international human rights standards”, a request that has as yet not led to any results.
Contradictions between OIC’s and other UN members’ understanding of terrorism has stymied efforts at the UN to produce a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.
During a meeting in Malaysia in April 2002, delegates discussed terrorism but failed to reach a definition of it. They rejected, however, any description of the Palestinian fight with Israel as terrorism. Their declaration was explicit: “We reject any attempt to link terrorism to the struggle of the Palestinian people in the exercise of their inalienable right to establish their independent state with Al-Quds Al-Shrif (Jerusalem) as its capital.” In fact, at the outset of the meeting, the OIC countries signed a statement praising the Palestinians and their “blessed intifada.” The word terrorism was restricted to describe Israel, whom they condemned for “state terrorism” in their war with the Palestinian people.
At the 34th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM), an OIC section, in May 2007, the foreign ministers termed Islamophobia “the worst form of terrorism”.
Thailand has responded to OIC criticism of human rights abuses in the Muslim majority provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat in the south of the country. In a statement issued on 18 October 2005, secretary-general Ihsanoglu vocalised concern over the continuing conflict in the south that “claimed the lives of innocent people and forced the migration of local people out of their places”. He also stressed that the Thai government’s security approach to the crisis would aggravate the situation and lead to continued violence.
On 18–19 April 2009, the exiled Patani leader Abu Yasir Fikri (see Patani United Liberation Organisation) was invited to the OIC to speak about the conflict and present a solution to end the violence between the Thai government and the ethnically Malay Muslims living in the socioeconomically neglected south, that has been struggling against Thai assimilation policy and for self governance since it became annexed by Thailand in 1902. Fikri presented a six-point solution at the conference in Jiddah that included obtaining the same basic rights as other groups when it came to right of language, religion, and culture. He also suggested that Thailand give up its discriminatory policies against the Patani people and allow Patani to at least be allowed the same self-governing rights as other regions in Thailand already have, citing that this does not go against the Thai constitution since it has been done in other parts of Thailand and that it is a matter of political will. He also criticised the Thai government’s escalation of violence by arming and creating Buddhist militia groups and questioned their intentions. He added Thai policies of not investigating corruption, murder, and human rights violations perpetrated by Bangkok-led administration and military personnel against the Malay Muslim population was an obstacle for achieving peace and healing the deep wounds of being treated as third-class citizens.
Thailand responded to this criticism over its policies. The Thai foreign minister, Kantathi Suphamongkhon, said: “We have made it clear to the OIC several times that the violence in the deep South is not caused by religious conflict and the government grants protection to all of our citizens no matter what religion they embrace.” The Foreign Ministry issued a statement dismissing the OIC’s criticism and accusing it of disseminating misperceptions and misinformation about the situation in the southern provinces. “If the OIC secretariat really wants to promote the cause of peace and harmony in the three southern provinces of Thailand, the responsibility falls on the OIC secretariat to strongly condemn the militants, who are perpetrating these acts of violence against both Thai Muslims and Thai Buddhists.” HRW and Amnesty International have echoed the same concerns as OIC, rebuffing Thailand’s attempts to dismiss the issue.
India has pushed against the OIC for referring to the Northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir as “occupied by India”. Although 14.23% of India’s population is Muslim, it has pushed for the OIC to make an exception to accept India as a member, arguing that about 11% (roughly 172 million) of the Muslims live in India. Pakistan opposes India’s entry into the OIC.
The reason of Pakistan’s opposition to India’s entry into the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is due to the human rights issues and problems faced by the Kashmiris in the Indian-administered state of Jammu & Kashmir(J&K). The Muslim world has always supported Pakistan rather than India, however the role of the OIC concerning the Kashmir issue is that India has the largest Muslim minority and those people have shown desire to join the OIC. While the First Islamic Summit did not have the issue of the Kashmir people, granting the 60 million Muslims living in India membership in the OIC was discussed. While General Yayha Khan of Pakistan did agree, he showed his extreme displeasure at the fact that at induction of Muslim representative Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, he took a seat, which caused major controversy. Meanwhile, there were Muslims killed in anti-Muslim riots in Ahmedabad. Pakistan rejected this development and demanded the expulsion of India from the summit.
The OIC noted that incidents of violence against the Muslim community were being committed by extremist Hindu groups and said it viewed such incidents “with grave concern”.
A number of OIC meetings have attracted global attention.
The ninth meeting of Parliamentary Union of the OIC member states (PUOICM) was held on 15 and 16 February 2007 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The speaker of Malaysia’s House of Representatives, Ramli bin Ngah Talib, delivered a speech at the beginning of the inaugural ceremony. OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said prior to the meeting that one main agenda item was stopping Israel from continuing its excavation at the Western Wall near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site. The OIC also discussed how it might send peacekeeping troops to Muslim states, as well as the possibility of a change in the name of the body and its charter. Additionally, return of the sovereignty right to the Iraqi people along with withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq was another one of the main issues on the agenda.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri told reporters on 14 February 2007 that the secretary general of OIC and foreign ministers of seven “like-minded Muslim countries” would meet in Islamabad on 25 February 2007 following meetings of President Musharraf with heads of key Muslim countries to discuss “a new initiative” for the resolution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Kasuri said this would be a meeting of foreign ministers of key Muslim countries to discuss and prepare for a summit in Makkah Al Mukarramah to seek the resolution of the Arab–Israeli conflict.
In December 2012, the IPHRC met in Washington, DC for the first time. The IPHRC held meetings at the National Press Club, Capitol Hill and Freedom House discussing the issues of human rights defense in the OIC member states. During their roundtable discussion with Freedom House the IPHRC emphasised the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rejection of the Cairo Declaration by the OIC.
The September 2014’s high-level Summit of the OIC, in New York, ended without adopting any resolutions or conclusions, for the first time in several years in the modern history of the organization, due to a dispute regarding the status of one of its Observer states. Egypt, Iran and the United Arab Emirates have demanded that the OIC remove the term ‘Turkish Cypriot State’ in reference to the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which has observer status within the organization. Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi insisted that any reference to the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or Turkish Cypriot State” was unacceptable and was ultimately the reason for the OIC not adopting any resolutions or conclusions in the 2014 summit.
The OIC system consists of:
The largest meeting, attended by the kings and the heads of state and government of the member states, convenes every three years.[clarification needed] The Islamic Summit takes policy decisions and provide guidance on all issues pertaining to the realisation of the objectives as provided for in the Charter and consider other issues of concern to the Member States and the Ummah.
Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers meets once a year to examine a progress report on the implementation of its decisions taken within the framework of the policy defined by the Islamic Summit.
The Secretary General is elected by the Council of Foreign Ministers for a period of five years, renewable once. The Secretary-General is elected from among nationals of the Member States in accordance with the principles of equitable geographical distribution, rotation and equal opportunity for all Member States with due consideration to competence, integrity and experience.
The Permanent Secretariat is the executive organ of the Organisation, entrusted with the implementation of the decisions of the two preceding bodies, and is located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen. He received his office on, Tuesday, 29 November 2016