Speech of the OIC Secretary-General At the 
49th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, in Nouakchott, March 16, 2023

In the name of Allah, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
And prayers and peace be upon His Messenger

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome you to the opening of the 49th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). I sincerely congratulate the Islamic Republic of Mauritania for hosting and chairing this session, wishing it all success. I also express my deep appreciation to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for its presidency of the 48th Session.

It gives me great pleasure to reiterate my utmost appreciation and gratitude to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in its capacity as the OIC headquarters country and the Chair of the 14th Islamic Summit, for its generous support to the OIC under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and HRH Prince Muhammad bin Salman, Crown Prince, and Prime Minister.

I renew our sincere condolences and solidarity with the Republic of Türkiye and the Syrian Arab Republic following the devastating earthquake that struck several areas in both countries last month, calling for more humanitarian aid to be provided to them.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This session takes place under dangerous circumstances and developments in our central issue, the issue of Palestine and Al-Quds Ash-Sharif, as a result of the escalation of the crimes of the Israeli occupation represented in murder and organized terrorism, the continuation of the policy of colonial settlement, the Judaization of the city of Al-Quds, and the violation of the sanctity of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and relevant United Nations (UN) resolutions. These severe challenges require uniting our positions and redoubling our efforts to mobilize the responsibility of the international community to end Israeli crimes and violations, implement international legitimacy resolutions, provide international protection for the Palestinian people, hold Israeli officials accountable for crimes committed against the Palestinian people, through the available international justice mechanisms, and support efforts to re-launch a multilateral political process to achieve the vision of a two-state solution, based on relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.

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In Afghanistan, the OIC closely follows developments, implementing ministerial resolutions, and the outcomes of the Executive Committee meeting held last January. In this context, Amb. Tarig Bakheet, my Special Envoy to Afghanistan, visited Afghanistan last week. He held meetings in Kabul and Kandahar with leaders of the de-facto authorities. He conveyed the message of the OIC and its Member States regarding their commitment to support Afghanistan on the humanitarian level and the importance of reviewing the recent decisions taken by the de facto Afghan authorities regarding girls’ education, women’s work, and the need to make more efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The de facto authorities still demand that they be given some time to review the academic curricula and the safe environment for girls’ education. In this regard, we affirm the total commitment of the OIC to support the right of women in Afghanistan to education and work in line with the principles of Islam.

The OIC will continue its efforts and dialogue with the concerned authorities in Afghanistan and, in coordination with the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA), will send an expanded team of scholars to Afghanistan for dialogue on aspects related to Islam’s position on women’s education and work.

On the other hand, our humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan will continue through the OIC’s office in Kabul in coordination with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief). We highly appreciate the efforts made by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) through the Afghanistan Humanitarian Trust Fund. We call on the Member States to donate to the Fund to enable it to provide humanitarian and development support to the Afghan people.

The OIC is committed to defending the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. The General Secretariat and my Special Envoy for Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Yusef Aldobeay, continue implementing the action plan adopted by the Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir during its meeting in Islamabad on the sidelines of the CFM 48th Session. Regarding the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, we will continue supporting the Republic of Azerbaijan in preserving its sovereignty and territorial integrity and resolving the conflict per UN Security Council resolutions. We will also continue our support for dialogue and efforts to achieve peace, security, stability, and development in Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Libya, the Sahel countries, the Lake Chad basin, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Guinea, and Burkina Faso, in a way that responds to the aspirations of their peoples. We also value all efforts and endeavors to support Iraq’s unity, territorial integrity, and reconstruction.

The situation in Somalia tops the OIC concerns, so the General Secretariat dispatched a high-level delegation to Somalia at the beginning of this month, where they held important meetings with government leaders. I take this opportunity to commend the great efforts made by the Somali government to eradicate terrorism and provide services in the areas liberated from the grip of Al-Shabaab. I call upon the Member States and all Islamic financial institutions to provide all necessary support to assist the government in achieving stability and development in these areas and to counter the adverse effects resulting from the disaster of the drought that struck the country’s different regions. I also call on the international community to lift the arms embargo imposed on Somalia to support the government’s efforts to impose security throughout the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I reiterate the official position of the OIC regarding the issues of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Western Thrace, and Kosovo based on the relevant CFM resolutions. In the context of following up on the conditions of Muslim communities and minorities in non-member states, we intend to continue constructive dialogue and endeavors with the authorities of those states to preserve the rights and dignity of those communities. Regarding the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar, the progress witnessed in the case filed by The Gambia before the International Court of Justice against Myanmar is a significant step in efforts to achieve justice and accountability for the Rohingya and protect the remaining Rohingya inside Myanmar. While we appreciate the contribution of several Member States and the Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF) in securing the financial resources required by the case, we look forward to the contribution of other countries and institutions. We also welcome cooperation with the UN, the UN Secretary-General’s envoy to Myanmar, and other international partners to protect the rights of the Rohingya.

The OIC, with the support of its Member States, will continue its efforts to enhance its capabilities in the areas of peace and security, conflict resolution, mediation, and election observation in the Member States, as well as combating terrorism and violent extremism that leads to terrorism and manifestations of hatred against Islam and Muslims. Our commemoration today of the first anniversary of the International Day against Islamophobia, which the UN General Assembly approved, is an opportunity to raise awareness about this dangerous phenomenon and to promote dialogue, understanding, and coexistence.

In the humanitarian field, my report reflects the growing work of our organization. I thank all OIC Member States, institutions, and partners for supporting this work. We seek to strengthen our presence and activity in the Sahel region and the Lake Chad basin through our regional office in Niamey. We are arranging a donor conference in line with the relevant CFM resolution. In this regard, I commend the offer of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to host the conference within the framework of its usual support for Islamic solidarity and its keenness to help the countries of the region in facing various challenges.

In the legal and institutional field, several meetings of the Group of Governmental Experts were held, as mentioned in my report presented to you. It is worth noting the approval of the OIC Anti-Corruption Convention during the ministerial meeting of the organs concerned with combating corruption in the member states, held in Jeddah on December 20-21, 2022.

Although the Charter and some basic agreements and statutes entered into force, the maximum benefit from those agreements and regulations would only be realized with the ratification of all Member States. In addition, some essential agreements and statutes are still awaiting the completion of the required number of ratifications by the Member States to have the necessary legal quorum for their entry into force, including the International Islamic Court of Justice statute adopted in 1987.

In the information field, the OIC has invested in new and social media platforms and launched a live broadcast service for its conferences, increasing its visibility and global resonance.

In economic cooperation, the Trade Preferential System among the OIC Member States (TPS-OIC) came into force on July 1, which will lead to the promotion of intra-OIC trade and contribute to achieving its goal of reaching a 25 percent share in this sector by 2025. In science and technology, the OIC seeks to implement a project on preparing a summary of science, technology, and innovation (STI) files for the Member States in coordination with the Standing Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH). In the cultural field, the General Secretariat has finalized the draft concept paper for establishing the OIC Platform for preserving and protecting cultural heritage in the Member States. We are working to organize a cultural event next July in Indonesia, as well as the OIC festival next year in Azerbaijan.

In social development, empowering women, enhancing youth capabilities, and developing sports in the Islamic world, I commend the efforts of the Saudi government in hosting the 5th Session of the Islamic Conference of Ministers of Youth and Sports in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, last September.

In the same context, we continue coordinating with the Arab Republic of Egypt to hold the second session of the OIC Ministerial Conference on Social Development and with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to host the 9th Session of the OIC Ministerial Conference on Women. I invite the Member States and the relevant OIC organs and institutions to participate in these conferences and contribute to their success actively.

The OIC Program of Action-2025 is a roadmap for the OIC work and reflects the collective vision. The Member States are called upon to continue their efforts and strengthen their participation and political commitment to the OIC-2025 by integrating the OIC programs and activities into their national priorities to ensure its success.

Enhancing the OIC status and effectiveness and intensifying its activities requires continuing the reform process to develop performance and keep pace with new changes and challenges facing joint Islamic action. It also requires that all Member States fulfill their financial obligations so that the OIC can achieve its goals and aspirations of its people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome the agreement between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran to resume diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies. This step will strengthen the pillars of peace, security, and stability in the region and give a new impetus to cooperation between the OIC Member States.

I also renew the OIC congratulations to the State of Qatar, the leadership, government, and people for the outstanding success in organizing the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which made the tournament a historical version of the World Cup tournaments. We also welcome the UAE’s hosting of the COP28 climate conference in appreciation of its efforts in this field. We call for active participation in this important global event to make it a success.

In conclusion, the OIC values its cooperation and partnership with the UN and other international and regional organizations and friendly countries; it seeks to support them. It also intends to expand its partnerships to serve international peace, cooperation, and shared interests.

I wish you all the best in your deliberations.