Commencement of the Proceedings of the 25th Session of the Islamic Commission for Economic, Cultural and Social Affairs in Jeddah

OIC Press Release

19 January 2002

Commencement of the Proceedings of the 25th Session of the Islamic Commission for Economic, Cultural and Social Affairs in Jeddah

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Dr. Abdelouahed Belkeziz called for rectifying inter-Islamic affairs before moving to counter external threats that face the Ummah. He also called on Muslims to strengthen their solidarity, interdependence and unity of ranks. His Excellency addressed a statement, delivered on his behalf by Ambassador Izzet Mufti, OIC Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs to the 25th Session of the Islamic Commission for Economic, Cultural and Social Affairs, which began its meetings in Jeddah on Saturday, 5th Zul Qaadah 1422H (19 January 2002).

Dr. Belkeziz drew attention to the campaigns of distortion, false accusations and multifarious threats directed by certain quarters which are taking advantage of the current international situation to settle old scores and grudges against our religion, culture and civilization. He stressed the economic and cultural dimensions of these campaigns, because these two areas require us to arm ourselves with enlightened, insightful vision as well as with influential and effective means, in order to defend ourselves against attempts to alienate us from our Islamic identity. In this context, the Secretary General said, "The implementation of the Cultural Strategy for the Islamic World and its programmes is a vital and imperative matter, particularly under the present critical conditions in which our very culture is in jeopardy". He stressed that implementation hinges on the availability of the financial resources, and urged the delegates to pay due attention to this important matter in order to find a radical solution for it, particularly from the financial perspective.

Dr. Belkeziz addressed the phenomenon of globalization which resulted from rapid advances in technology and information. He linked it with the dialogue among civilizations for which the UN designated 2001 as the Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations. The Secretary General pointed out that the preamble of the relevant UN resolution stressed that it is imperative to promote the spreading of the culture of peace and dialogue among civilizations, and that belief in dialogue increases awareness of the common values to all humanity. In his statement the Secretary General addressed the issues of women and their role in the development of Muslim society, the rights of children in Islam and the issue of Muslim youth. He referred to the resolutions adopted by various Islamic Conferences which stressed the necessity of adopting a comprehensive policy that conforms with the requirements of the age and keeps abreast of the progress achieved by contemporary civilization in terms of technology, education and training.

As regards joint Islamic action in the economic field, the Secretary General expressed discomfort at the slow pace of the economic progress among the OIC Member States, in particular the OIC Plan of Action to Strengthen Economic and Commercial Cooperation among Member States, and the establishment of an Islamic Common Market. He urged the governments of the Islamic States to expedite the signing of the agreements and statues which lay the foundation for the integration of the economies of the Member States and protect them from the negative repercussions of globalization. He also called on them to provide the necessary resources for the implementation of these agreements in a collective manner in such a way as to allow the Islamic States confront grave dangers.

Following the statement of the Secretary General, the participating delegations began to consider the items included in the agenda. The meeting elected the Sudan as Chairman of the Sessions, and Bangladesh, Palestine and Mozambique as Vice-Chairmen. The Republic of Mali was elected as Rapporteur.

The agenda of the meeting included the following items:

– Consideration of the economic situation of Member States;

– Economic assistance to some Islamic States and Muslim communities;

– Activities under the auspices of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation;

– Cooperation in the field of tourism;

– Establishment of an Islamic Common Market;

– Environmental problems in the Islamic World including the Israeli practices and their negative effects on the environment in the occupied Arab territories in Palestine, the occupied Syrian Golan and in Occupied Lebanese territories;

– Environment, sustainable development and ways and means of resolving the problems relating to environment and health;

– Environment from an Islamic Perspective.

The Cultural items included:

– Cultural Strategy and Plan of Action for the Islamic World;

– Cultural Aspects of Globalisation;

– The Universal Declaration on Dialogue Among Civilizations;

The proceedings of the Session will continue up to 9 Zul Qaadah 1422H (23 January 2002).