COMCEC

Statement of

H.E. DR. ABDELOUAHED BELKEZIZ, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE (OIC), AT THE INAUGUTRATION OF THE SENIOR OFFICIALS MEETING

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

29-31 May 2001

Mr. Chairman, Your Excellencies Heads of Delegation, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, with His help and guidance, and in your graceful company we commence this Senior Officials Meeting preparatory to the Twenty-eighth Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers due to be hosted by the Republic of Mali next month.

I have no doubt that the work you will accomplish within the coming few days, the efforts you will exert while examining the reports of the Secretary General in their various aspects, and the consensus you will achieve on the agenda items of the forthcoming Ministerial Conference as well as its work programme, will provide the main basis for the deliberations, recommendations and resolutions of Their Excellencies the Ministers.

Hence my eagerness to meet with you today, as I have already done with your colleagues members of the Islamic Commission for Economic, Cultural and Social Affairs and the Permanent Finance Committee, you being the real experts who will do the larger portion of the coming Ministerial Conference’s work. I feel duty-bound, this being my first meeting with you, to present some of the conceptions of the new approach that I plan to pursue as part of my endeavors to promote this Organisation to which we are all honoured to belong, such as to elevate its status and to promote joint Islamic action which we endeavor to make effective and impactful. I also deemed it appropriate to be brief in dealing with the issues and items of the agenda, convinced as I am that the elaborate review contained in my reports circulated to you, is both adequate and exhaustive.

While my personal keenness to innovate and introduce reform stems from my own deep conviction that it is high time for the Organisation, thirty years after its inception, to renew its structures and its modus operandi, yet the leaders of the Muslim Ummah have preceded me to this realization and advocated, more than once, the necessity of reform. To this end, they established numerous committees, cognizant of the fact that such reform has become an urgent necessity dictated by the changing circumstances, variables and priorities as well as the advances witnessed in methods, techniques and systems of work. Their latest initiative in this regard was the resolution adopted by the 27th Ministerial Conference held in Kuala Lumpur last June, and reiterated by the 9th OIC Summit held in Qatar last November. In implementation of the above-mentioned two resolutions, the concerned Committee held two meetings, of which the latter was held on the 12th of the current month of May in Jeddah. It is expected that a specialist in this area will prepare a study for the framework document which will define the terms of reference of the consultancy body for reform and rehabilitation as a preliminary step towards the initiation of actual reform. The overall study will be financed by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Once this study is finalized, I will seek to associate the Member States in its examination and evaluation with the aim of reaching a broad consensus on the nature and scope of the sought reform.

In the meantime, I have recently focused my attention on the introduction of in-house reforms at the level of the General Secretariat’s internal working procedures and the activities of Departments as well as the elaboration of a mechanism to expedite the implementation of the resolutions adopted by OIC meetings. I also endeavored to boost the morale of the staff members and involve them in shouldering responsibilities, streamlining the preparation of documents and striving to upgrade and update them.

Before you today are some documents relating to your deliberations in this meeting. They have been prepared on the basis of the traditional and customary approach. You may agree with me that these documents are in such numbers that it would prove impossible to examine, scrutinize and review them in the short time span available to our meeting.

And let me say, in confidence, that certain leaders of Member States which I have visited recently, were critical of the excessive diversity and proliferation of the issues included in the agenda of our meetings, a proliferation which is susceptible to adversely affect the seriousness with which they are examined, and consequently, the credibility of the resolutions and recommendations adopted thereon, some of them, in fact, being adopted under the effect of passion, time pressure or other factors. Therefore, on many occasions, they cannot be implemented, adhered to or defended. Furthermore, the annual and quasi-automatic and literal repetition of these recommendations, renders them lifeless and subject to sclerosis. This is an issue of critical importance which should be studied and scrutinized with the aim of taking the necessary action thereon when the time is ripe.

Ladies and gentlemen;

So far, I have been honoured to meet some of the leaders of the Islamic Ummah, foremost of whom the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz and his Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar and Chairman of the Ninth Islamic Summit Conference, H.E. Seyed Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, H.E. Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia and H.E. President Abdurrahman Wahid of the Republic of Indonesia. I also intend to visit a number of Member States shortly. Within the next few days, just before the forthcoming Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers to be held in Bamako, I shall tour a number of African Continent Member States and meet with their leaders to examine matters relating to joint Islamic action, within the framework of their membership in our Organization.

I have sensed genuine and sincere keenness, on the part of the honourable leaders whom I have met, to promote the Organisation so that it may constitute a solid bond which will gather the dispersed members of the single Islamic Ummah. The OIC should, in their view, form an optimal focal point for their concertation and unity of rank in their joint Islamic action, and the best forum for the defense of their rights and interests before the others in all fields, in a manner that would secure a lofty and prestigious standing for this Ummah in the world such as it used to enjoy in earlier times.

It is indisputable that a broad Islamic consensus exists on the need to reform the OIC and to promote it so that it may provide a political vehicle that is reckoned with at the international level. This consensus being achieved as to our objectives and orientations, there remains the other issue of vital importance, namely, our leaders’ collective agreement to provide the means and resources required for the realization of these objectives.

I sincerely believe that the current international conjuncture has become quite favourable for the undertaking of such enterprise, now that continents and affinity-related international groups are amalgamating in numerous patterns of unity, leaving individual disunited states isolated from the mainstream of world policy, vulnerable and hardly acknowledged, with their rights ignored, despite their vast resources and great potential.

The political issues facing the Islamic world today clearly illustrate this state of weakness, disintegration and fragmentation. The Palestinian people have been plying for several long decades under the yoke of the Israeli occupation. The Islamic States having not succeeded to deliver them and the international community having failed to offer them protection. Indeed the sufferings of the Palestinians are aggravating and deepening by the day. In addition to the political stranglehold imposed on their freedoms depriving them of their independence which is unanimously recognized in resolutions of international legitimacy, their ordeal is today compounded by an economic siege in the form of frozen assets withheld by the occupation authority, the severance of their sources of living resulting from their barring from work, their starvation and their isolation, not to mention the violation of territories under Palestinian authority through repeated incursions, the murdering of defenseless civilians, the destruction of Palestinian property and infrastructure, and forcing the displaced to remain in the Diaspora camps.

The people of Kashmir are still waiting to exercise their legitimate right to self-determination, a right recognized also by resolutions of international legitimacy over half a century ago. The sufferings of the Afghan people also have aggravated as a result of the international embargo imposed against them, successive years of drought that devastated plants and livestock, and the continued bloodshed caused by internecine struggle. Parts of Azerbijan, particularly Naghornokarabgh, are still subjected to foreign occupation that has been violating its territorial integrity for years. The issue of Islamic areas in Southern Philippines is still a matter of ebb and flow because of the marked slow pace in the implementation of the autonomy agreement. However, we do hope that the latest initiatives of the Philippines Government will lead to encouraging results. Also the problem of the situation between Iraq and Kuwait falls under this same chapter. We have to stress here the need to respect the sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Iraq and to put an end to the long-standing embargo. Likewise, the right of Kuwait to security and stability, the need to find an urgent solution to the problem of Kuwaiti prisoners of war and other missing persons, and to ensure full compliance with international legitimacy. Furthermore, there are many other similar cases, such as the situation in parts of the Balkans, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and others. Most of these cases would not have come to be had our Member States’ solidarity, integration and cooperation been in a different state than it is today.

Ladies and gentlemen;

These are some reflections and ideas which I made a point to share with you so that you may consider and weigh them here, and so that they may, in due time, form a yardstick of evaluation.

"I seek only to reform as much as I can, and my success is with none but Allah. In Him I have put my trust and to Him I turn." Allah’s word is Truth.

I wish you every success in discharging the noble task entrusted to you.

I also wish you a pleasant stay in this blessed country in which the OIC enjoys the patronage of the government of the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, and its proximity from the holy lands blessed by Allah.

May Allah guide your steps towards success,

wasalamu alikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

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