Opening of the 28th ICFM in Bamako

OIC Press Release

26 June 2001

Opening of the 28th ICFM in Bamako

On behalf of His Excellency President Omar Alpha Konare, President of the Republic of Mali, H.E. Mande Sidibe, Prime Minister of Mali, on Sunday morning, 4 Rabiul Thani 1422H (June 25, 2001) opened the 28th Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) in the presence of His Excellency the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Dr. Abdelouahed Belkeziz.

At the beginning of the address he read out on behalf of the President of the Republic of Mali, H.E. the Prime Minister welcomed the heads and members of delegations participating in the Conference wishing them a pleasant stay in Bamako and full success in their proceedings. H.E. Sidibe addressed a number of issues relating to joint Islamic action. He stressed the need for effective ways to overcome the difficulties and obstacles impeding the work of the Islamic Ummah. The most critical of these are the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, due to Israel’s repressive policies and refusal to comply with international resolutions and to implement peace accords and the disturbing security and economic conditions in the African continent due to conflicts between African countries. He also stressed the need to settle these conflicts on the basis of the principles and Charter of the OIC.

The Secretary General of the OIC, Dr. Abdelouahed Belkeziz, delivered an address in which he reviewed a number of obstacles to joint Islamic action in light of the ordeals that some member countries are going through in various regions, including the political, economic and social problems entailed by internal and external conflicts as well as by foreign occupation which creates tragic situations for Islamic peoples and communities in addition to the injustice and repressive measures taken by many non-Muslim countries against their Muslim minorities with the aim of dissolving them into non-Muslim societies driving them out of their homeland or obliterating their Islamic identity.

The Secretary General went on to speak about globalization, the driving force of the new international order and about the changes it has brought about in the concept of international relations, thus creating a new concept which sets little store by traditional political borders and the principles of international sovereignty and equality among countries. Indeed the new concept goes beyond all these principles in an implicit way, replacing them with new criteria that serve the interests of the superpowers and the long-term interests of influential categories which nurture this phenomenon, thus leaving the countries which are unable to catch up with them isolated and marginalized, struggling against poverty and underdevelopment.

H.E. stated that one of the appropriate ways for the Islamic world to adapt to the phenomenon of globalization is to draw up action plans to rapidly strengthen economic and commercial cooperation among OIC Member States through the establishment of an Islamic common market. Dr. Belkeziz said in this regard: "the experiences of mankind in the past century show that all the political groupings we know today started with coordination and economic complementarity among states, then developed into united economic entities and political unions. This is the case of the European Union and others, bringing together various countries that were divided, even fighting against one another until they united under the same banner of an irreversibly interdependent economic and political union, based on the higher interests of each country, within the framework of the common higher interests of all the countries concerned".

The OIC Secretary General made it clear that there are other peoples, including the Islamic countries, trying to follow the trend, convinced that going against the grain is impossible and avoiding it will lead them into isolationism and economic marginalization. In so doing they find themselves the victims of fierce and unfair competition due to the protectionist measures taken by rich countries and designed to prevent the exports of the developing world from competing with their own products, especially in the field of agricultural and other products… Hence the urgent need to establish a common market to assist Islamic peoples in the developing countries in facing the challenges and obstacles.

In this regard, H.E. commended the efforts of some member states to bring down tariff barriers and to set up free trade zones among themselves, and called on the rest of the member states to follow suit.

Dr. Belkeziz also addressed several other important issues congruent with OIC aspirations to carry the banner of Islam and represent the Islamic Ummah with merit. One such issue is the cultural strategy of the Islamic world, and the initiative of the Organization such as expressed by H.E. President Mohamed Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran during his Chairmanship of the Eighth Islamic Summit calling for the establishment of a constructive dialogue among civilizations. Other issues pertain to the field of information which holds a pivotal place in shaping internal and international public opinion, and for which increased resources must be mobilized to convey the message of Islam to the world at large, promote its radiant image and thwart all attempts at degrading it. Other issues are the rights of women and children in Islam, interest in technology and the need to catch up with the rapid and momentous developments taking place in this area.

The OIC Secretary General concluded his address by calling on Members States to show determination and pride in taking the first step towards Islamic solidarity in an area which may seem symbolic but is actually of paramount importance, that is the unity of positions in international fora every time the higher interest of the Islamic Ummah, its just causes, or the sanctity of its Holy Sites are are at stake.

Representatives of the African Group: H.E. Mr. Youssouf Ouedraogo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Burkina, Faso, the Arab Group: Mr. Shaher Bet, Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the Asian Group: H.E. Mr. Abdul Sattar Mohamed Din, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, respectively made statements to express their gratitude to the government of the Republic of Mali for hosting the Conference and their appreciation for the warm welcome and generous hospitality extended to the participating delegations. In their statements, they addressed issues of concern to the Islamic world that must be confronted with methods worthy of this century whilst preserving the distinctive character characteristics of the identity and culture of the Muslims.

The Chairman of the Twenty-seventh Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Minister of Malaysia, Mr. Seyed Hamed Bar, also made a statement to address the various issues submitted for discussion to the current session. He appealed to the participants to thoroughly study these issues so as to arrive at resolutions and recommendations that enrich the foundations of Islamic action and enhance the conditions of the Islamic Ummah and particularly emphasized the issue of restructuring the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which was the subject of recommendations adopted by the relevant Experts Committee and is submitted to this Conference for consideration.

The representatives of international organizations: the United Nations, the Non-aligned Movement (Represented by the People’s Republic of Bangladesh which is hosting the next Summit of the Movement), the Organization of African Unity, and the League of Arab States then made their statements expressing solidarity with the working methodology of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, their support of its policies, and their wishes of complete success for the proceedings of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers.

The first working session of the Twenty-eighth Conference of Foreign Ministers was then started with the election of the members of the Bureau of the meeting as follows: the Republic of Mali, as Chairman, the State of Palestine, the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, as Vice-Chairmen, and Malaysia as Reporter. Their Excellencies the Ministers and Heads of Delegations then started the discussion of the items on their Agenda once it was adopted and distributed among five specialized committees as follow: the Political Affairs Committee, the Economic Affairs and Science and Technology Committee, the Cultural and Social Affairs Committee, the Administrative and Financial Affairs Committee, as well the General Committee.

Over the next three days, the Foreign Ministers of the Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference will devote their proceedings to the study of political, economic, social, scientific, cultural and information issues, the problems of Muslim Minorities in non OIC Member States, and other issues of joint Islamic action submitted to this session.