OIC’s Makkah Summit
Objectives, Achievements and Challenges
By Mairaj ul Hamid Nasri
Inaugural meeting of the 14th Summit of Millat-e-Islamia’s sole representative “Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)” was held on May 31st in the holy city of Makkah. The summit ended up with the signing of an MOU among the heads of states/governments of Muslim-majority countries. OIC, the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations, comprises 57 countries spread over four continents of the world. The organization is the sole voice – though often unheard – of the Muslim world. It vows to protect the interests of the Muslim world with the spirit of promoting peace and harmony among the people of the world. In the recent summit, Pakistan was represented by its Prime Minister, Imran Khan, whose participation proved to be vital, and his speech provided a guideline for the Summit’s proceedings and Declaration.
The objectives of the organization in letter are: to enhance and consolidate fraternity and solidarity among the Member States; safeguard, support and protect the common interests; strengthen intra-Islamic economic and trade cooperation; exert efforts to achieve sustainable and comprehensive human development and economic wellbeing in the Member States, protect and defend the true image of Islam, to combat defamation of Islam and encourage dialogue among civilizations and religions; enhance and develop science and technology and encourage research and cooperation among Member States in these fields. The OIC Charter says that all member states must commit themselves to the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter; all the member states are independent and equal in rights and duties; all member states should resolve their disputes peacefully and refrain from using or threatening to use force in their relations; all the member states are committed to respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of other member states and should refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of others; and all the member states should promote, at the national and international levels, good governance, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
Coming towards the achievements of the Summit, one can see that while various challenges are confronted by the Ummah, including wars and internal tensions in several parts of the Islamic world, e.g. Damascus, Kashmir, Palestine and North Africa, which remained among the hot topics at the latest summit, the disunity and non-functionality in spirit of the organization was omnipresent. It can be sensed from the fact that neither was any attention paid to the situation in Algeria and Sudan during the meeting nor the legitimate right of nations to decide their own destiny was supported. It was perhaps because of the fact that majority of the runners and controllers of this bloc are tyrannical and military regimes. Even the final declaration of the summit failed to address the fundamental rights of citizens and the consolidation of democracy in North African countries, i.e. Sudan and Algeria. Yemen’s issue failed to get the attention it deserved and resultantly no plans were proposed to end the Yemen war and reduce tensions between the Saudi Arabia and Iran. Nevertheless, the OIC leaders condemned the Palestinian state of affairs in their final statement on the centrality of the issue of Palestine and Al-Quds, and only condemned the Zionist regime’s attacks. In the final statement on the centrality of the Palestinian issue, Al-Quds and the right of the Palestinian people to have an independent state, the member countries condemned illegal and irresponsible American decision to recognize Al-Quds as the capital of the Israel, and called for sanctions and appropriate measures against any country that had moved its embassy there or opened commercial offices in the occupied territory. Moreover, the final statement emphasized on security and peace in the Middle East, and a total withdrawal of Israel from occupied Palestinian territory in 1967. The statement added: “The transfer of American and Guatemalan embassies to Quds and the illegal identification of Quds as the capital of Israel is a blatant violation of the Palestinian nation’s legal, historical and natural rights, and targets its prospects for freedom and independence.”
The OIC has cautioned the Member States against establishing ties with the Zionist state and has asked them to stop all types of normalization of relations with the regime unless it adheres to the special resolutions on Palestine and Quds. In this statement, the attacks on oil pumping stations in two cities of Dawadmi and Afif in Saudi Arabia have been condemned along with the condemnation for acts of sabotage against four commercial ships near the international waters of the United Arab Emirates, describing it as “a criminal act” that threatens the safety and security of international maritime traffic. The statement emphasized the establishment of peace in Afghanistan and expressed its support for any efforts put in by the National Unity Government of Afghanistan to ensure peace and security of the war-torn country. In this statement, only solution to the lingering Afghan war has been asserted to be the dialogue between the Afghans and the Afghan Consensus.
Although, the organization holds its meetings time and again, its effectiveness and credibility are challenged within the circle of its member states itself. To move ahead for making it a robust and a potent organization, addressing its internal weaknesses and external challenges facing it is most pressingly needed. If the member countries want to have an effective role in world affairs, there should be changes in OIC’s structure and status in accordance with the needs of the prevailing international system. Otherwise, the organization will not be able to play an effective role in international affairs. The proceedings of the summit and status of coordination among the member states indicate that the OIC has been severely disunited. The member states should work to resolve their problems through mutual understanding and dialogue.
The OIC should strive to strengthen its role in the international community, with endeavours for securing a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Furthermore, the organization needs to build a force for peacekeeping in the member states in the field of security and the prevention of conflict. It also needs to work for the economic stability of Muslim Ummah for which it has to focus on the macroeconomic capacities of the member states so as to strengthen economic cooperation with the creation of a common market. In the long run, the strengthening of scientific, cultural and educational cooperation among member states should also be a permanent priority of the OIC. To conclude, it is clear that OIC, though termed as a dead horse, is a sleeping and dazzling horse. If it exploits its full potential, resources, energy and commitment to the cause, overcomes the trust deficit among the member states and works for promoting consensus, it can do wonders for the Muslim Ummah.
The author is a faculty member at department of Political Science in University of Malakand, Chakdara. He can be reached at: email@example.com