OIC Press Release

10 August 2001

Statement by the Chairperson of the OIC at the Concluding Plenary Session of the Third Preparatory Committee of the World Conference against Racism

Thank you, Madam Chairperson,

1. All present here will acknowledge that the issue of how to reflect the plight of the Palestinian people in the World Conference on Racism has been one of the most contentious issues before us. This is not surprising, given the importance of the issue and the hardships faced by the Palestinian people for decades, as a result of the racist practices of the Occupying Power.

2. I am therefore taking the floor on behalf of the OIC to present our views on this extremely important issue.

3. At the outset, the OIC would like to affirm our commitment to ensure the success of the World Conference, which should take into consideration the plight of all victims of racism, including the suffering of Muslims in all parts of the world.

Madame Chairperson,

4. There can be no denying that the OIC has been open for consultations with any interested delegations on this issue, most particularly within the framework of consultations chaired by the delegation of South Africa. The OIC would like to thank the South African delegation for their efforts in this regard.

5. In order to facilitate discussions, the OIC has presented the non-paper on the paragraphs related to the Palestinian issue, which has been distributed to all delegations. The non-paper reflects the spirit of flexibility and compromise which has characterized the OIC. We are of the opinion that in the absence of any other contributions, this non-paper constitutes a good basis for negotiations. In the absence of a general agreement on paragraphs relating to Palestine, those paragraphs should be retained in the draft documents in their present form. As a further manifestation of our openness, the OIC had yesterday agreed to the proposal made by Egypt and Belgium, on behalf of EU, and supported by many delegations, for the establishment of a small informal working group to draft language which may be the basis for consensus. Unfortunately, the working group was unable to discharge its duties, as the delegations of the US and Israel, which had expressed strong positions on the issue, were unwilling to participate in the working group.

6. We are saddened at this development, as we believe that the first step to finding concensus is to engage in dialogue.

7. In conclusion, I would like to again affirm the willingness of the OIC to engage in future consultations in order to find consensus, which may pave the way to a successful conference in Durban.