24-25 FEBRUARY 2003



Bismillahi Al Rahman Al Raheem

It is a pleasure for me to be part of this very important meeting of yours in which more than fifty Member States of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference are participating, an organisation that I am honoured to be its Secretary General.

I am delighted to express my most sincere gratitude and appreciation to H.E. Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, and to the Government and people of Malaysia for their warm welcome and hospitality. I thank them for their excellent preparations for this importance conference, as well as for its careful and perfect organization, as is the practice in Malaysia.

This meeting is taking place under difficult international conditions. Because of those conditions, it has dawned on everybody that there is a dire need for the Non-aligned Movement to continue its work as a political and ideational force, part of whose objectives are defending the rights and interests of all developing countries, and making their voices and those of their people heard in the world, through its solidarity on developments of international events.

Since its emergence at the Bandung conference, held in the middle of the last century, the Non-aligned Movement has stood out as an international movement for solidarity among developing countries, supporting colonized peoples in their struggles for liberation and independence. Its contributions in this field have been hugely historic. Through singleness of purpose among its members, the Movement was able to mark a watershed in the 20th century history of peoples liberation and solidarity, and to lay the foundation for the independence of many countries. The Movement thereafter contributed to projecting the interests of its Member States by making them independent of either the Eastern or Western blocs of those days. This it did by adopting a policy of positive neutrality which it employed as a platform to strengthen the foundation on which many countries gained political independence.

Following the collapse of the communist camp, the Movement’s activities were afflicted by stagnation. Many thought that the Movement had successfully played its historic liberation role from foreign subordination; that its role as a solidarity movement had come to an end; and that there was no longer any justification for its existence. What has contributed to that thought in the last decade was the attempts by the international community to create the so-called "new world order." With the world left with a single world power and the only power insisting on running the world according to its whims, the balance of international relations has suffered a defect, as proved by recent developments.

This new situation has pointed up that States in the Movement need to adapt to the current international discourse and relate with changed conditions and contemporary logic. In other words, the Movement needs more solidarity and mutual assistance among themselves than ever before. Solidarity is required to defend their rights and core interests. Having lost the power to choose, to remain neutral, or to benefit from the previous balance of world power, and having realized that its fate is now in the hands of others, as is the case in the uni-polar international situation, or on the issue of globalization and other issues, those rights and interests are now being directly threatened. The more this solidarity is strengthened and reflected in firm positions, unity and closing of ranks, in the seriousness of joint action, the more we guarantee respect for ourselves and our rights.

The terrible events of September 11, 2001 – roundly condemned by everybody- and its dangerous consequences and negative manifestations have upset the traditional and well-known pattern of international relations. They have constituted a dangerous degeneration of the foundation of general freedom and human rights in some countries, and ushered in a unilateral discourse and the policy of the strong dictating to the weak. Added to the consequences of the events is the attempt to portray the attack on the United States as an expression of Islam’s hatred for Western civilization and values. It is an attempt to hold every Muslim all over the world, numbering nearly a quarter of the world’s population, responsible for the crime perpetrated by a small band of extremists. As yet no court of justice has pinpointed the identity of the perpetrators, even though more than one and a half years have lapsed since its perpetration.

This is an extremely dangerous international situation. Its ramifications have become clear in the repeated threat to launch an unjustified attack against Iraq, which has fully cooperated with the United Nations inspectors of weapons of mass destruction, despite strong international opposition.

This policy of giving orders is attended by duplicity in the application of the standards governing engagement with international issues in the current dispensation. Iraq is being threatened with destruction and extinction; thousands of innocent Iraqi children have been killed under the pretext that it possesses weapons of mass destruction, without any clear-cut proof for that position, while Israel is allowed to openly possess large quantities of all kinds and categories of weapons of mass destruction. It is allowed to perpetrate all kinds of war crimes prohibited by international law, treaties and conventions against the Palestinian people, whose rights and freedoms have been forcefully taken away from them. The Palestinian economy has been destroyed and its people displaced in exile and refugee camps. All this is not to mention the blatant contradiction employed in dealing with the issue of weapons of mass destruction in North Korea and Iraq.

Mr. President,

All that has been said indicate one thing: the urgent need for us to revive the sparkle and dynamism of the Non-aligned Movement to continue to play its traditional historic role as an international movement for solidarity in the developing world and to safeguard its rights and interests in the face of enormous challenges which it has been facing since the world become unipolar.

Thus, States Members of the Movement, in our view, must focus on the highest principles and the strategic points of convergence among them to enable them strengthen the bonds of solidarity, cooperation and mutual assistance. And they are numerous and multifarious. Divisive issues carried over from the past should be excluded. This is to enable the Movement stand united in the world and speak with one voice in every matter of concern to it. This will no doubt result in an immense international political weight for the Movement. The leadership of the Movement, in the presidency and bureau, at ministerial meetings and coordination offices, must do more to attract support for the resolutions and directions of the Movement in important international forums. The objective will be to position the Non-aligned Movement to play a truly leading role in shaping international general policies. For it is self-evident that if we fail to chart the course of our own future, others will decide our future in a way that suit them.

The objectives of our solidarity should not be limited merely to defending political positions. We should extend our solidarity to other fields of action such as economic, social and cultural concerns.

In the field of economy, for instance, we are members of the developing world; follow the currents of globalization, with conditions set by the rich countries, and at a speed dictated without our slightest input.

It is now clear to all that the driving force of the world economy today in the context of globalization is access to greater profits. It is the greatest objective of the world’s dominant, greedy, capitalist authorities. What is dangerous in the whole matter is that most often capital moves beyond frontiers and concentrates in the hands of a few capitalists who share little concern about the social conditions of people in their areas of operation, and do not care about the future of mankind; to say nothing about their disregard for the natural environment in the areas of their excessive exploration. For them the dangers lurking behind new fields such as biotechnology or genetics, whose harmful impacts might not be known for many decades to come is not important. They could transfer dangers whose extent is yet unknown to coming generations. Even the rich countries have sensed the dangers. Their rejection of the continuously widening gap between the rich and the poor has been reflected in vociferous demonstrations which are organized during meetings of the rich clubs such as the G-8, the World Economic Forum, etc, in Seattle, Genoa and recently in Geneva.

It is also clear that the architects of globalization have failed to manage it justly in a way to guarantee its continuity. Numerous clamours have been made for a reform of this haphazard international economic condition. Many of our leaders have called for a humanitarian face of globalization. Others proposed that concerns should be shifted to creating "global solidarity" as a substitute to the current predominantly unbalanced globalization. For our part, we would strive within the framework of our Movement to give global priority to sustainable development, development that will build on the active and equal participation of all the world’s economic forces. Such a development will receive the participation of all countries – small or big, rich or poor, technologically advanced or marginalized – in the search for just, practical solutions to economic and social conditions. The solutions must be pursued through increased solidarity and social justice for all of humanity, and through taming globalization to be in the service of man.

On the other hand, the respect for human rights and general freedoms in the world has suffered drawbacks since the September 11, 2001 events. In some places in the advanced world, new legislations have been issued whereby general freedoms are limited and the reach of human rights curtailed under the guise of fighting international terrorism. What is regrettable, however, is that these measures and legislations have a tinge of racism and discrimination. Most of them are aimed at individuals from particular racial or cultural backgrounds. This is a real setback for the principles of democracy and general freedom. It is a new situation that deserves from us greater attention, solidarity, mutual assistance and cooperation to confront its challenges. More so because shying away from the challenges would raise the stakes of hatred and rejection of cultural diversity. It will encourage those who hold that a clash of civilization is inevitable, and enthrone intellectual bigotry which humanity has fought for decades to replace with tolerance, coexistence, recognition of others and multiculturalism. The current waves of incitement against Islam "Islamophobia", of distortions of Islamic principles, civilization, culture and values are nothing but an aspect of a new campaign of racism. And it must be resisted.

The crucial time we are passing through is a touchstone of our ability to move. But movement requires solidarity, cooperation and coordination. I hope that this important meeting of yours would result in the strengthening of this direction. I hope its outcome would prove that States in the Movement are keen on seizing the opportunities available to them to launch a new turn and begin to take the initiatives in deciding their own affairs and in defending their interests in a world that is full of risks and challenges.