Reports

Secretary General’s Reports
on
Information Affairs
to the 26th ICFM, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, June 28 – 1 July 1999

 

—  The Role of Information and Communication in Promoting the Just Cause and Image of Islam

 

—  The Activities of the OIC Specialized Institutions in the Field of Information

Report

 

 

 

REPORT OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL

ON

THE RolE OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION IN PROMOTING THE JUST CAUSES AND IMAGE OF ISLAM

TO THE TWENTY-SIXTH SESSION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE OF FOREIGN MINISTERS

OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO , 28 JUNE – 1 JULY 1999

Among the objectives assigned to the joint Islamic action by the Charter of the Organization of the Islamic Conference are those relating to the field of information and communication which are very important indeed, the ultimate goal of which is to have an Islamic information that serves the Ummah. For this purpose, a Standing Committee for Information and Cultural Affairs (COMIAC) was established as early as 1981 under the chairmanship of His Excellency President Abdou Diouf, President of the Republic of Senegal, who defines the general guidelines of the Committee and gives the necessary impetus to the various actions to be taken.

From 1988, ministerial level consultations are organized through the Islamic Conference of Ministers of Information which held its 4th Session in Dakar, Republic of Senegal, Nov. 27-30, 1997. The Conference elaborated organizational and reference frameworks for joint Islamic information action as well as necessary programmes to crystallize this conception.

In terms of achievements, we can mention the adoption of the Strategy of Islamic Information with its implementation mechanisms; the Code of Conduct of Islamic Information to be used as a reference and working guide for information and communication professionals in the Member States to be put into effect, as it is an important support to the efforts of the General Secretariat in the information sector and the Islamic Programme for the Development of Information and Communication (PIDIC), which is a new structure, to be realized, concerned with elaborating necessary ways and means to develop various actions within information and communication institutions of the Member States, and to search for sources to fund work programmes in needy institutions. This is meant to complement and support the coordination efforts of IINA and ISBO in their respective areas of specialization, so as to enable IINA and ISBO to execute an ambitions programme for teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speaking people, and to supervise and follow up, closely and continuously, the plan for the production of a documentary film on Al-Quds Al-Sharif.

Despite these achievements, the information sector are suffering from meager financial resources and a dearth of manpower, at a time when this sector is witnessing rapid developments requiring it to constantly catch up with them so as to cope with events. It has not been feasible until now to start implementing the Information Plan. While the General Secretariat has not received any contribution towards its financing, no Islamic State has implemented its part of the Plan as far as available information is concerned.

The shortage of funds has also resulted in proposing to give up implementation of Islamvision, or postpone it to a later date when financial resources are available.

Therefore, the General Secretariat plans define a working program that has to be implemented with more accuracy to enable the Communication sector play its roles fully in serving the just causes of Islam and defending its interests.

Adapting to Developments in the Field of Communication:

As this century draws to an end, the means and forms of Communication and Information, have been developed considerably, as a result of technological progress. The utilization of the now available possibilities through informatic programs and satellite transmission is currently “reshaping” the world in view of the rapid exchange of data and its instant transmission to various parts of the world, as well as the diverse information media and the rapid expansion of their capabilities in the area of coverage.

Islam, the religion that has always called for the dissemination of the eternal values of love, tolerance, peace, justice and development at all levels, especially on the spiritual, cultural, scientific, economic, social and political planes has, today more than ever, become a vital religion devoted to salvaging mankind and human society.

Unfortunately, certain circles, bent on fighting Islam, seize every occasion and leave no stone unturned to vilify its image. There are also circles which unjustly misuse Islam to achieve goals that have no connection whatsoever with our tolerant religion. Islam unequivocally condemns those goals.

We are seeking, in collaboration with the Member States, to enrich the contents of "Al-Mutamar" magazine, published by the General Secretariat (Information Department), to make it into a tool for enlightening public opinion and other non-Islamic bodies on contemporary issues of Islam and Muslims.

In this context, we must continue to reorganize the department responsible for information affairs, so as to keep abreast of developments in this important sector, and undertake to rectify the distorted image spread about Islam and Muslims and enable it, through the provision of the necessary means, to follow up events and to intervene, when necessary, to correct, enrich or support the material on our common Islamic causes, published by international media and transmitted via cyberspace.

The Action Program:

It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to act decisively to highlight Islam’s heritage, values and achievements, as well as potentialities of the Islamic Ummah and its various policies; to promote the true image of Islam and conduct a dialogue among civilizations, whenever necessary; and to take the initiative in this regard rather than adopting defensive attitudes. It was, therefore, necessary to create a web site for the General Secretariat on the Internet. We have started to achieve this in New York, Geneva and Jeddah, despite the paucity of financial allocations. We have sought, in this context to conduct contacts with the European Union aimed at establishing cooperation framework and dialogue between the Union and the General Secretariat in order to boost the dialogue among civilizations.

Action should be undertaken to bring about a rapprochement among Muslim peoples and create propitious conditions enabling Muslim minorities and communities to remain constantly in touch with Islamic countries, and be informed of the Organization’s activities.

1 - Internal Activities:

At the internal level, some activities which could foster Information activities may be carried out, especially through taking advantage of the possibilities offered by modern communication networks of the cyberspace, through:

- Utilizing the Internet to follow up web sites interested in Islam, prepared by independent organizations or societies, or institutions of Islamic States. The aim is to enable the General Secretariat and its specialized institutions to define their positions towards issues related to Islam which are reflected in this network.

- Continuing publication of "Al-Mutamar" magazine, established in 1997 (first issue published), and planning to publish it twice a year, as well as enrich it with contributions from Member States. Written materials from specialized writers in Islamic States are welcome.

Media coverage of the activities of the General Secretariat, its subsidiary organs, specialized and affiliated institutions, and of important events, meetings and major gatherings or ceremonies organized by the OIC and its bodies or under their auspices;

- Strengthening links with the International Islamic News Agency (IINA) and the Islamic States Broadcasting Organization (ISBO) and reinforcing cooperation with regional and international press agencies for a better dissemination and promotion of Islamic information;

- Publication of a daily information bulletin on the activities of the General Secretariat and communicating them to the mass media, the Member States and various OIC institutions in collaboration with IINA and the Islamic State’s Permanent Missions or Consulates in Jeddah and Embassies in Riyadh.

- Producing audio-visual cassettes, documentary programmes and other information products, and propagating them in cooperation with ISBO aimed at enriching and complementing information available to information institutions of the Member States and international information media.

- Implementing of the Information Plan adopted by COMIAC in 1996 by carrying out annual periodical action programs.

- Appointing a liaison officer — a Communication specialist in Member States — to provide regularly the General Secretariat with whatever is published about the OIC and its activities in the local media;

- Preparing regular audio-visual programs, in cooperation with the radio and television authority of the host country, on the Organization’s activities;

- Organizing and taking part in workshops, conferences, and other meetings designed to crystallize the true image of Islam and spread its Message.

2. An Information Cooperation Program:

To adopt a program with the aim of bolstering cooperation among Member States in the field of Communication. It would include the following, among other things:

- Activation of news, information and programme exchange among the Member States by utilizing available capabilities of these States in preparation for the possession of technical, human, and financial abilities in order to establish.

- A pool of information and news reports exchange.

- An Islamic Satellite Channel (radio and television).

- Promotion, establishment and strengthening infrastructures required for the various information and communications sectors so as to improve their contribution to the economic, social and cultural development in Islamic countries.

- Cooperation among Islamic States in the area of communication tariffs applicable to information organs and in the utilization of radio electromagnetic frequencies;

- Cooperation among Islamic States in the field of new communication technologies and, in particular in the utilization of satellite communication and digital technology.

Twenty-fifth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers:

The 25th ICFM, held in Doha, from 15 to 17 March 1998, considered the report of the Secretary General on the role of communications in promoting the just causes of Islam and highlighting its image. The Conference approved measures contained in the report aimed at activating the information and communication sector in order to enable this sector to perform its real role in strengthening the just causes of Islam, promoting its image and informing about its heritage and values.

 

The Conference called on the Member States to mobilize all the necessary means, especially through voluntary contributions, to solve the difficult problems of finding the required financing to promote information and communication activities.

The Conference stressed the urgent need to implement, as soon as possible, the action programmes envisaged by the Information Plan as well as other information projects approved by higher information bodies.

CONCLUSION:

Providing the General Secretariat with the necessary capabilities remains an essential element in implementing the approved Information Plan and activating its role in information and communication which is a sector that reflects all political, economic, cultural and social action and to which the nations of the world as well as international and regional organizations pay utmost attention and for which they provide adequate financial resources.

The General Secretariat, therefore, drew up, in collaboration with the Member States, the necessary plans to give a meaningful boost to Islamic information.

The Secretary General submits this report and attached resolutions to the Twenty-sixth Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers for consideration and appropriate action thereon.

——————-

REPORT OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL

ON

THE ACTIVITIES OF THE OIC SPECIAliZED INSTITUTIONS IN THE FIELD OF INFORMATION

TO THE TWENTY-SIXTH SESSION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE OF FOREIGN MINISTERS

OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO , 28 JUNE – 1 JULY 1999

The International Islamic News Agency (IINA) and the Islamic States Broadcasting Organization (ISBO) are OIC institutions specialized in the field of information. The first includes national news agencies and the second radio and television organizations in the OIC Member States.

Through its Resolution No. 14/5-INF (COMIAC) the Fifth Session of the Standing Committee On Information and Cultural Affairs, held in Dakar, Republic of Senegal on 27-28 March 1996, agreed that IINA and ISBO should remain as separate institutions in the field of information in view of their particular nature. The 8th Islamic Summit Conference, held in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, noted with satisfaction the resolution adopted by COMIAC to maintain the two afore-mentioned institutions.

a) International Islamic News Agency (IINA).

1. IINA, whose charter had been ratified in 1972, became operational in 1979. Its role involves the gathering and distribution of news of the Islamic World and supporting the bonds of unity, solidarity and cooperation among the Member States.

2. IINA’s director General will submit to the 26th ICFM a detailed report on the activities of the institutions following the meeting of its Executive Board in Kuwait.

b) Islamic States Broadcasting Organization (ISBO):

1. ISBO includes radio and television organizations in the OIC Member States and coordinates their activities. ISBO became operational in 1975. It seeks to bring OIC Member States closer together, ensures that they know one another better, and defends their cultural heritage and common causes.

2 ISBO’s Secretary-General will submit a detailed report on the activities of the institution to the 26th ICFM, after ISBO’s Executive Board held its 21st session in Kuwait.

The OIC Secretary General presents this Introductory Report to the 26th ICFM for appropriate decision.

——————