the representative of Pakistan, on behalf of the OIC at the Fifty-first Session of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights on Item 1 (c) : Organization of work, methods of work of the Sub-Commission.
Geneva, 19 August 1999
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. We take this opportunity to express our deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to the delegation of Turkey for the great loss of life and the disaster wrought by the earthquake that hit Turkey two days ago. OIC Member states stand in solidarity with the people of Turkey in this difficult hour.
We would like to extend our felicitations to you and members of the Bureau. We must congratulate you on your effective management of speaking time. We would also like to congratulate you Mr. Chairman, for your excellent paper on the organization and methods of work of the Sub-Commission. We also thank Mr. Bossuyt and Mr. Eide for their exhaustive papers.
The OIC takes a particular interest in the work of the Sub-Commission which has the unique privilege of representing a diversity of cultures, civilizations and at times extremely divergent views. The richness of the debate among the Sub-Commission members is not one that can be replicated elsewhere.
The OIC looks forward to the discussions in the Working Group on the Review of Mechanisms on the proposals for reform made by the Bureau of the 54th Session of the Commission on Human Rights. The work done by the Sub-Commission this year, in this context, especially the papers by Mr. Bossuyt and Mr. Eide will greatly assist us in the discussions in the Working Group on the Review of Mechanisms.
There has been a great deal of discussion about the Sub-Commission assuming its original think-tank role. The OIC is convinced that the Sub-Commission can become an extremely effective body by focusing its energies on assuming the substantive role of providing fresh thinking and new initiatives in the human rights field.
The Sub-Commission was entrusted to take up the 1503 confidential procedure through a rigorous method of complaints and responses by Governments and their consideration by an expert body, the Working Group on Communications. Clearly any consideration of a country situation in an open procedure is an extremely serious matter and cannot be dealt with lightly. It can only be on the basis of information which is fully authenticated and on an equally rigorous criteria.
Presentation of a country resolution and especially the recent initiatives to include names of countries in thematic resolutions is duplicative with other thematic procedures as well as the work of the Commission. It is also obvious that any country resolution or naming of a country in a thematic resolution are by nature selective and not necessarily based on objective human rights criteria. This is visible from the evident hesitation to name some countries where gross, systematic and well documented violations continue to take place. There is a growing perception among OIC Member States that they are more likely to be mentioned in these resolutions. This is a matter of concern to the OIC.
We note that in the course of the drafting of resolutions, there is intense interaction between the experts of the Sub-Commission and NGOs, who often provide information on which the resolutions are based. We believe that an equally intense interaction with governments is essential to ensure that resolution emanating from the Sub-Commission are based on objective facts and are balanced.
We note that at recent sessions of the Sub-Commission, attempts have been made by some Organizations to misrepresent and misinterpret Islam. Extremist elements exist in all religions and all societies. Yet it is only Islam and Muslims that suffer identification with such regrettable phenomena as terrorism, intolerance and human rights violations. Islamophobia has also unfortunately become a serious and growing human rights concern. The OIC countries find this extremely disturbing. With a view to combat these negative trends, the OIC countries took the lead in the 55th session of the Commission on Human Rights in getting adopted a resolution by consensus, 1999/82 entitled “Defamation of religions”. The member states of the OIC believe that we need to go much further in combating and addressing the unfortunate trend of negative stereotyping, defamation of Islam and Muslims and Islamophobia in the context of the Sub-Commission.
The OIC values the contributions made by responsible NGOs in the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms and promoting the cause of people who continue to be denied their rights upheld by the UN Charter. The OIC is, however, concerned about the activities of some NGOs and their misuse of accreditation procedures in the Commission on Human Rights. Some accredited NGOs and government organized or sponsored NGOs continue to offer their banner to individuals, organizations and governments for purpose that are not concerned with genuine human rights issues but aim at targeting other countries and for propaganda reasons. Their objective is not to work for the promotion and protection of human rights. They allow themselves to be used as a foreign policy tools of certain governments. This defeats the purpose of effective participation of NGOs in UN work.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.