HIS EXCELLENCY DR. ABDELOUAHED BELKEZIZ, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE TO THE FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE UN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
GENEVA, 2 APRIL 2001
Assalamu Alaykum Warahmatullah Wabarakatuh,
It gives me great pleasure to convey to you my sincere congratulations on your unanimous election to the chairmanship of the Fifty-seventh Session of the Commission on Human Rights. I am certain that your well-known sagacity and experience will help you steer the sessions of this meeting to a successful conclusion.
On this occasion, I should also like to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to Ms. Mary Robinson, the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the good efforts she has deployed in defending human rights issues and those who are victims of human rights violations. I would like to voice my regret to hear her decision not to continue on a second term in this office, even though I do understand her reasons and hope that she will be continuing her noble humanitarian campaign from a different position.
I would like to seize the opportunity of addressing your Commission for the first time following my election as Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to briefly give you some information about this organization which is the second largest intergovernmental regional organization after the United Nations, and includes in its membership 56 States fourteen of which are members of your Commission.
The organic bond which ties all these States together is that the common cultural heritage inspired of the Islamic religion. It is a heritage that is based on the common on origin of all humans, for as the Holy Quran says “It is He Who has created you from a single person”. It is also based on equality between all peoples and inter-cultural exchange, for the Holy Quran again says ” O mankind! We have made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is the most pious believer”.
The Islamic religion is distinguished from other previous religions and customs by having an elaborate and clear formulation of human rights for it has provided these rights with legal divine framework, by bestowing on them, binding and inviolable character.
The sources of Islamic Sharia are replete with texts which recalls the equality of human beings without distinction because of race, colour, gender, belief, or economic or social position. Justice is the absolute standard and basis of government. It calls for tolerance and mercy and the respect of the dignity of human-beings which is considered the dignity of all humanity. It does not recognize any preferential treatment between people except in the field of benevolent offices and charitable and pious deeds based on a moral code of ethics.
It is on that basis that the Organization of the Islamic Conference has endeavoured to promoting intercultural understanding and interaction between all peoples on the grounds that the Islamic Ummah itself is a multi-cultural one, grouping multitudes of peoples with multiple origins, races and languages. The OIC has also dedicated its efforts to instill a culture of tolerance and mercy among humans and to seek the common ground for peaceful coexistence of cultures. That is why the OIC was anxious to be the first to promote the call for dialogue among civilizations and support the idea of the United Nations proclamation of the Year 2001 as the Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations. In this vein, it worked to foster the concept of peaceful dialogue and the rejection of hegemony and dominance, and to inculcate the principles of justice in both internal and international relations, the non-exclusion and non-marginalization of others. All these principles are foundations which serve to consolidate the respect, support and the establishment of human rights. The many recommendations and resolutions of the OIC throughout the years have been intent on the full respect of human rights in their Islamic conception as well as in their Member States on the grounds that these rights are universal and global.
As the world today stands on the threshold of the twenty-first century our planet is still the scene of many injustices and acts of oppression and hegemony which affect millions of people. Wars and starvation, ethnic cleansing and the displacement of people from their homes and cities, the coercive massive exodus of civilians and other catastrophes still plague many of the peoples of the globe. The vast majority of earth population is still struggling for their right to development and liberation from coercive measures and constraints. The ever-increasing gap separating the rich countries from the poorer ones is expanding day in day out so that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. Capital flow is still going from the poor countries of the South towards the richer countries of the north while the brain and competence drain continues in the same direction. All of this goes on whilst globalization continues unrelenting under the banner of the survival of the fittest thus inflicting great damage on the efforts of the developing countries for development and progress.
In the fact of these disturbing conditions, we can only hope that your Commission will continue to highlight and give prominence to the possible dangers these conditions may entail and try to address them in a radical manner so as to enable us to record in human history the entry of the world today in the era of international equality, justice and respect of human rights in deeds not in words.
Discrimination based on biological racism has barely receded from the scene of international politics in the last few years when a new form of racism, contemporary racism, under new and deceptive cultural disguises has assumed the role of exploitation and hegemony that used to be practiced by orthodox biological racism.
We believe that the third conference on combating racism to be held this year in Durban, South Africa, will afford us all an opportunity to counteract this new phenomena and expose its true designs. Within this drive, we must strive to put an end to xenophobia, the profanation of religion and particularly Islamophobia which is a heinous violation of human rights and an abhorrent kind of racism.
Also in this context, there is the issue of facing the discrimination directed at the immigrant labour force migrating from the developing countries of the South to the industrial countries, and it would be most welcome if we could utilize our collective presence in that conference to call for bridges of understanding and coexistence to be built between the peoples of all human kind instead of sowing the seeds of hatred and xenophobia and kindling conflict.
Perhaps the most serious of human rights violations is the denial for an entire people of their political rights, foremost among which is the right to self-determination. This is the case of the Palestinian people who are enduring a vicious aggressive campaign that aims at uprooting them from their land, denying them their basic rights, demolishing their infrastructure, usurping their funds and massacring individuals and children. Suffice it to read the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mrs. Mary Robinson on her visit to the Palestinian territories in November 2000, to recognize the nature of this unique case of denial of rights, arrogance and disregard of the international legitimacy. The report of Amnesty International on 21 February 2001, and the report of the International Red Crescent, as well as those adopted by other human rights organizations, eloquently reflect the gravity of the excesses perpetrated by the official Israeli authorities against the Palestinian people.
While the resistance of the Palestinian people against Israeli occupation, materializing in the Intifadha, is legitimate resistance approved by International Law and the prevailing conventions, Israel’s use of barbaric excessive force against this resistance has gone beyond all bounds. It has become clear to every impartial observer that the Israeli authorities intentionally kill demonstrators in blatant contravention of the basic principles adopted by the UN on the use of force and firearms to disperse demonstrations; Israel also uses internationally banned weapons which leave permanent physical effects; and even prevent or delay the arrival of ambulances to save the injured, and attack nurses and doctors.
Among the many Israeli excesses is the demolition of civilian buildings by shelling them by artillery and helicopter gun-ships; attacks against places of worship; denying citizens the performance of their religious rites; imposing mass punishments; blockading cities, towns and villages; destroying agricultural crops; and closing and destroying roads in contravention of he Fourth Geneva convention which provides for the protection of civilians in times of war.
Perhaps the most serious of these arbitrary measures pertaining to the flagrant violation of civil rights is the premeditated killing of the civilian leaders of the Palestinian society without official trial or making charges against the victims, random killing at check-points and the use of highly explosive weapons against unarmed civilians. Al these measures and practices are classified as state terrorism and war crimes.
Although your esteemed Commission held a special session in October 2000 to condemn these grave and exceptional violations, Israel has not paid any attention to the condemnation, but rather persisted, and still persists, in carrying out its violations of the International Law and of all international conventions and agreements.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference has participated, for several years, in the proceedings of your auspicious Commission and has done its utmost to coordinate its efforts with your efforts in the field of achieving respect for human rights as well as in the fields of the elimination of racism and all forms of discrimination, exclusion and marginalization.
The OIC is fully determined to proceed along this road in order to realize these noble objectives which are demanded by the great majority of world people. I do not entertain any doubt that our mutual cooperation and perseverance in the defence of these natural rights will eventually enable us to create a new world in which human rights are accorded the inviolability they deserve, and where the cultural specificities of all human beings are observed, and where the rule of law is established, and where equality and international justice prevail.
Al Salamu alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatu.