ASTANA, REPUBLIC OF AZAKHSTAN

28-30 JUNE 2011
(26-28 RAJAB 1432H

Your Excellency
Honorable Ministers,
Excellencies
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am deeply honored to address the opening session of the 38th session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers taking place in this beautiful and charming city of Astana. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the government and people of Kazakhstan for the warm welcome and hospitality. I wish to commend Kazakhstan under the able leadership of H.E President Nursultan Nazarbayev for hosting and successfully organizing this conference. I would also like to thank H.E the President for his inspiring and stimulating inaugural speech. I further wish to avail myself of this opportunity to salute the great people of Kazakhstan for their warm reception. This is yet another sign of Kazakhstan’s preparedness to lead the Ummah in this difficult time of our history.

My deep thanks and gratitude also go to the Republic of Tajikistan, Chairman of the 37th CFM for its sincere and dedicated efforts throughout the past year in assuming its Chairmanship of the CFM and for its positive contributions to the promotion of the joint Islamic action and for the major achievements accomplished during that Chairmanship.
Excellencies
It will be observed from my reports on the work of the Organisation that the OIC has been able, thanks to your support, to achieve many targets in favour of our Ummah and its causes.

The OIC has come a long way to make its impact felt not only within its Member States but internationally as well. Many circles at the regional and international levels have expressed their continued interest in nurturing a sustained dialogue and in opening lines of communication with our Organization.

Inspired by the new vision and lofty objectives of the Charter and the TYPOA we have managed to elevate the OIC profile that have endowed the OIC with greater significance which engender respect and trust. I can confidently say that the OIC now enjoy greater visibility at the international scene and has become more active and an indispensible actor among international institutions.

As we gather here in Astana to begin our deliberations, I seek your indulgence to make a few remarks about the situation in the Muslim World within the context of the current international climate. Today, as we speak, the Muslim World is confronted with some dangerous unrest with direct impact on its stability, unity, prosperity and development. Unfortunately, the Ummah still lacks the necessary internal cohesion, strength, solidarity and capacity that are required in order to overcome these daunting challenges.

The Muslim world is today going through a defining moment in its history, which further affirms the dire need to speed up the process of concretizing the peoples’ aspiration to good governance, the rule of law, human rights consolidation, broader political participation and dedicated national dialogue.

Fortunately, we have in the Muslim world a roadmap established for us by the Ten-Year Programme of Action which tackles today’s problems and charts for us the way towards the achievement of healthy political, economic, and social conditions. The said roadmap is based on a perceptive vision that scouts the horizon and anticipates the world conditions in the new millennium, a vision that carries in its folds appropriate solutions for such unrest as we are witnessing today in the Islamic world. This is an opportune occasion for me to renew my appeal to all our Member States to kindly see to the implementation of the Ten-Year Programme of Action, particularly as many among them have indeed already made significant strides in that direction.

Honourable Ministers

Developments in Palestine remain of great concern for us. Israel’s practices in occupied Al-Quds continue to pose a serious threat to the sanctities and interests of the Ummah. Settlement activities, attempts to Judaize Al-Quds, uprooting its indigenous Palestinian population and confiscating their homes and properties have escalated and reached alarming rates in the past few months.

Israel’s violations and refusal to honor agreements with the Palestinians, and its flouting of international law and conventions have resulted in a stalemate of the peace process. It is our duty and firm position, therefore, to support the Palestinian decision to resort to the United Nations and have its say in the solution of this protracted conflict. As I speak here, 116 countries so far have recognized the State of Palestine including 55 from OIC Member States.

The borders of the Palestinian State should be defined according to the lines of 4 June 1967, and should not be dictated by Israel’s de facto actions. In this context, we have welcomed the recent recognition of several countries of Palestine on the 1967 borders, and at the same time, we urge all countries to recognize Palestine on the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Referring to the recent events in North Africa, I would like to welcome the democratic changes in Tunisia and Egypt as a result of an internal popular revolution in these countries. During my recent visits to these two countries I express the hope that these changes would strengthen good governance, rule of law, democracy and economic development.

On the situation in Libya, I participated in all international meetings aiming at finding a political solution to the Libyan crisis based on the recognition of the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy, justice, rule of law and political reforms. I would like to reaffirm the strong commitment of the OIC to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya. I have dispatched a high level delegation to Tripoli last week. The delegation met Libyan officials and called for ending violence against civilians as well as providing unhindered access for humanitarian relief.

The OIC was following with deep concern the violent events witnessed in a number of cities in Syria .We have called for national dialogue to implement the reforms declared by the Syrian leadership in order to stop violence targeting both civilians and security forces.

The recent developments in Yemen confirm our reiterated appeals to all the parties for self-restraint and the need to solve the current crisis through dialogue and understanding to guarantee security and stability of Yemen and peaceful transition of power in this country.

The OIC has continued to maintain its strong position in supporting the Government and people of Afghanistan. The Organization has come to be accepted as a major player in all international and regional initiatives on Afghanistan. The establishment of the new OIC Permanent Representative’s Office in Kabul will further enhance the role of the Organization along with other partners in contributing to the ongoing peace-building process in Afghanistan. Consistent with our strong commitment to Afghanistan, the OIC General Secretariat hosted the ICG meeting on Afghanistan in its headquarters in Jeddah on 3 March 2011. We are also looking forward to the Regional Conference on Afghanistan which will be organized by Turkey later this year.

We welcomed the recent positive developments in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations following the latest visit by President Karzai to Islamabad. I congratulated the leaders of the both countries for their resolve to work closely together for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.

I paid an official visit to Iraq and had important talks with the high level Iraqi officials on ways and means to strengthen the cooperation between Iraq and OIC. We agreed on engaging a more comprehensive initiative on the strengthening of the Sunni-Shia relations on the basis of the Makkah Declaration of 2006 which helped the Iraqi national reconciliation.

Sudan is facing new challenges especially those resulting from the outcome of the January 2011 referendum. . I urged both parties to negotiate in good faith pre and post-referendum arrangements related to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
(CPA.) In this regard, we welcomed the recent agreement between the parties to demilitarize the disputed area of Abyei and urged self restraint in Southern Kordofan. I also welcomed the adoption of the Doha Document by the conference of the stakeholders on Darfur, which met in Doha on 27-31 May 2011. I wish to seize this opportunity to thank the State of Qatar for its continuous efforts aimed at reaching a comprehensive and lasting peace in Darfur.
Despite the renewed strong engagement by the OIC and indeed the larger international community which produced the Djibouti Peace Agreement currently under implementation, lasting peace has sadly continued to elude Somalia. I have consistently condemned the violence targeting the government and innocent people in Somalia. I have also condemned the incessant acts of piracy off the coasts of Somalia. As part of the support to the Transitional Federal Government, I have continued to mobilize the Member States to extend all forms of assistance to Somalia and to contribute troops to beef up African Union Peace Keeping Mission to Somalia. As we approached the end of the transitional period, we urged the Transitional Federal Government to remain focus on the national reconciliation process so as to complete the remaining important tasks under the transitional period.

I would like to seize this opprtuntiy to reitertate my call to Member States as well as OIC Specialized Institutions to render their valuable assistance to the Comoros.

As for Sub-Saharan Africa, I am pleased to inform you that I have just completed a week-long tour in early June 2011 which took me to seven countries: Benin, Togo, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Senegal and Niger. My accompanying delegation and I were afforded during this fruitful trip to measure the growing interest of African leaders and decision makers to be more involved with the OIC activities and intra-OIC cooperation. I also seized this opportunity to raise issues related to joint cooperation with the OIC on the political, economic, social, scientific, educational and cultural fields. I have also noticed that African leaders are very much interested in fostering closer ties with the organization along with its programme and projects. In the same vein, I would like to welcome the positive developments which took place in Côte d’Ivoire on 11th April 2011 following the restoration of constitutional normalcy which allowed H.E. Dr. Alassane Dramane Ouattara, the democratically elected President to assume the office.

The political situation in Guinea and Niger has hopefully evolved in a positive direction. The active engagement of the OIC and other partners in the international community has borne fruits and the two countries are on the way to restoring durable democracy.

The situation in the Indian occupied Kashmir, Turkish Cypriot, Kosovo, occupied Azerbaijani territories including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and Bosnia Herzegovina have continued to be a matter of concern to the OIC.

In a bid to better serve the interests of Muslims and the Muslim Ummah, we have been keen to develop channels of communications with the world leaders and fora where the global and important issues are taken. It is in this context that I take from time to time some missions to achieve this objective. During my official visit to Washington DC last April I was received by US President Obama and senior officials of the U.S. administration as well as members of the American Congress. Our discussions touched upon a number of issues of concern to the Islamic world. In my recent visit to London, I was received by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. We agreed to develop a joint framework of dialogue and cooperation between the OIC and the UK on some selected areas such as development aid, humanitarian assistance, science and technology, interfaith dialogue and combating intolerance. I also discussed in my recent visit to Brussels possible ways and means to further strengthening the bilateral relations including joint cooperation with European Union in development fields.

Excellencies,

I need to point out that over the past few years I have deployed extensive endeavors to ease the situation of Muslim minorities and communities throughout the world. Within this perspective, the OIC was keen to set the ground for a peaceful resolution to the political conflict between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), just as we have strived to build greater momentum to enhance coordination and unity of purpose between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front MILF for the sake of peace and development of the Bangsamoro people.

The plight of Muslims in Myanmar figures high on our Muslim minorities’ agenda. Indeed, a convention was held at the OIC General Secretariat last May with the participation of senior leaders representing many Rohingya Associations. The convention reached a consensual and milestone agreement to set up the Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU), which pools together 25 associations that will collaboratively seek a political solution to the problems faced by the Rohingya people.

We have also been closely monitoring the developments of the situation of Muslims in Southern Thailand, and we do hope that the new Thai Government will make good on the pledges taken by its predecessor government to work out a fair and feasible political solution to the conflict in Southern Thailand in line the communiqué I jointly signed with the Thai Foreign Minister back in 2007.

On a brighter note, I should highlight that our relations with both the People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Thailand have been recently tangibly fostered in the wake of a highly successful visit I undertook to both countries.

In a similar vein, we are pursuing our efforts to improve the conditions of Muslims in other parts of the world, notably in Greece and Bulgaria, with the objective of boosting our relations with these countries while shying away from any interference in their internal affairs.

We have emphasized , on many occasions , that combating terrorism should be dealt with through providing proper education and better social conditions for relatively backward societies, it would have yielded far better results by means of eradication of its root causes. The OIC is closely cooperating with other relevant international organizations as UN and OSCE in this domain.

Your Excellencies
In the area of economic cooperation, you are well aware of the progress made in the domain of trade financing and execution of our various poverty alleviation strategies. The implementation of our Executive Programme for Enhancing intra-OIC trade has brought out total financing package of US$ 36 billion through the respective activities of Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT) and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group.
However, the rates of OIC international trade and intra-OIC trade have remained 10.2 % and 16.65% respectively. This is a modest achievement, considering the economic potentials of the OIC member States and given the fact that OIC accounts for 22.5% of world population.
It is in this regard I am glad to convey to this august gathering that the protocol on the Rules of Origin for the OIC Trade Preferential System entered into force after getting the required number of ratifications which signifies the beginning of new era of the creation of OIC trade preferential system for a strong OIC market of US$ 1.3 trillion.
Within the same context of increasing competitiveness and productive capacity development for OIC Member States, the series of activities in the area of poverty alleviation have been accorded desired attention. In addition to scaling up of interventions under the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development and Special Programme for the Development of Africa, the issues of mobilizing resources for these programmes are high on the agenda of OIC General Secretariat. It is my sincere hope that the proposed mission of OIC Eminent Persons Group will receive your kind support.
Very soon, our Ministers of Agriculture will be considering a comprehensive Executive Framework for Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security in OIC Member States, which will represent the beginning of an action-oriented plan to foster economic growth and achieve poverty alleviation and socio-economic empowerment of the poor and vulnerable segments of our community. I am convinced that the Member States will lend their full weight to the need for ownership of the proposed quick-win actions, through their inclusion in their national priority programmes.
At this juncture, let me seize this opportunity to express due appreciation to our international partners, particularly UN Agencies, for their laudable efforts in ensuring the success of our recent initiative to develop a comprehensive partnership for the execution of OIC programmes. In this regard, the work of COMCEC Task Force on Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security has received valuable contribution from FAO.
Similarly, regional collaboration for increased intra-OIC economic cooperation has also been intensified with such organisations as African Union/NEPAD, WAEMU, BADEA, and ECO. This collaboration has been effective for the implementation of our projects on Dakar-Port Sudan Railway; the OIC Cotton Action Plan, and Cross Border Parks and Protected Areas in West Africa, to mention a few. More significantly, I wish to commend the work of our senior officials, who have produced the OIC Plan of Action for Cooperation with Central Asia, within such a relatively short period and in line with your relevant resolution adopted in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, last year.
I, therefore, wish to seize this occasion to urge the distinguished members of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers for concerted efforts so that all these programmes can find a suitable place within your national priorities. It is our intention that OIC Trade Preferential System should come into effect as soon as the remaining ratification on TPS-OIC Rules of Origin is obtained. In addition, your support for the recommended target on intra-OIC trade and thresholds for budgetary expenditures on agriculture and tourism can be realized in no distant time.

Accordingly, it is also appropriate that our efforts at resource mobilization should be scaled up in the next phase. Much as it is gladdening to note that the various financial releases, which had taken place under the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development and Special Programme for the Development of Africa have reached US$ 3.4 billion. Inadequate funds on these two windows have constrained the ability to make far-reaching interventions in the area of micro-finance, capacity building, women empowerment, education and vocational training, health and sanitation. It is to this effect that my next appeal is to seek your kind interventions in order to redeem the various pledges made on these two initiatives, while requesting for new pledges to create needed impacts in this direction. In this regard, I wish to assure you that our performances under these two poverty alleviation mechanisms would be reviewed in detail to ensure that they continue to meet with the objectives set out in the OIC Ten Year Programme of Action.

As we seek to attain our set goals on poverty reduction, the problem of food and nutrition insecurity has continued to pose enormous constraints. The global food crisis and the dwindling resources created by the attendant Balance of Payment disequilibrium have created a situation whereby the number of undernourished people in the world has increased to an alarming number of 1.02 billion. This is worsened by the new prediction of another food crisis in the coming months, owing to uncontrolled climate change and persistent environmental degradation.

In order to address this growing phenomenon of food insecurity, a host of OIC institutions have begun to mobilize national responses for a collective intra-OIC action in this connection. Consequently, the 5th OIC Ministerial Conference on Food Security and Agricultural Development held in Khartoum, Sudan, on 26-28 October 2010 has endorsed the series of recommendations culminating in the proposed elaboration of an OIC Executive Framework for Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security. The import of this exercise is to ensure a multi-stakeholder partnership to developing food security projects in OIC Member States, such that would involve the participation of international organisations as well as all relevant sub-regional and regional institutions in OIC countries.

I must, therefore, express our appreciation to the Chairman of COMCEC and the President of the Republic of Turkey, His Excellency Abdullah Gul for his continued support for this and other activities under the purview of COMCEC. My sincere appreciation also goes to all OIC institutions as well as the Food and Agricultural Organisation for their support for the expeditious take-off of the project.

In the months ahead and subject to your approbation on recommendations with regard to the review of mid-term review of the Ten Year Programme Action, the economic activities of the OIC would address those economic activities, which are aimed at mitigating the effects of the global economic crisis. Cooperation in the domain of energy, communication, industrial development, investment and joint venture is germane to the task of building a more prosperous OIC economic community, which will promote collective economic security and peoples’ welfare.

Honorable Ministers, Excellencies

The combat against Islamophobia constitutes a matter of extreme priority for the OIC. Islamophobia represents a contemporary manifestation of racism and the phenomenon must be addressed in that context. It threatens the multicultural fabric of societies and poses a clear danger to international efforts geared towards peace, stability and security. There is an urgent need to initiate and sustain what I would like to term as ‘preventive cultural diplomacy’ geared towards peaceful coexistence in a globalized world characterized by diversity.

The OIC’s strategy toward combating Islamophobia is essentially composed of monitoring, diplomatic and operational aspects. The Islamophobia Observatory at the General Secretariat continues to monitor Islamophobic acts and events on a daily basis analyzing and cataloging them into Annual Reports presented to the CFMs. The fourth report of the Observatory being released today catalogues and analyses events from June 2010 to May 2011. I have been consistently warning against grave consequences of ominous developments like the Swiss ban on constructions of minarets in the mosques and the increasing trend towards using Islamophobia as an instrument of electoral politics. I suggest that we look beyond the confines of multilateral diplomacy to ensure that the call to address Islamophobia forms part of the agenda during bilateral contacts of the Member States – particularly with their interlocutors in the West.

The OIC sponsored resolution and discourse on ‘defamation of religions’ signifies the operational aspect of the strategy towards combating Islamophobia. I must commend the efforts of the OIC Ambassadors’ Groups in New York and Geneva towards sustaining support for this resolution in the wake of diminishing returns indicated by the voting pattern. Let it be clear that this issue carries more than just political significance for the OIC. Entrusted with the responsibility of active engagement in the matter, I took the initiative of organizing a brainstorming session with a panel of eminent jurists from the Muslim World. It was based on the outcome of this brainstorming that I presented– at the 15th Session of the UN Human Rights Council- an eight point approach for action, at the national and the international levels. I am glad that this alternative approach found resonance with all negotiating partners and formed the basis of a new OIC sponsored resolution 16/18 on Combating Intolerance adopted by consensus at the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The consensual adoption of the resolution 16/18 vindicated OIC’s demonstrated ability to address sensitive matters through meaningful and result oriented discourse. This is a major step forward in dealing with Islamophobia and the whole package of interrelated issues that continues to form a matter of vital concern for the OIC.

OIC pioneered the call for inter-cultural dialogue in 1998 and we have since been sincere and consistent in our endeavors in this area. Our religion provides us with the inspiration in this regard. Inherent in the universality of Islam is the acknowledgement of diversity and rejection of division or split along ethnic, religious or cultural lines. The OIC is guided by the inter-faith initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz.

As we speak today, the OIC is on the verge of establishing an Independent Permanent Commission on Human Rights (IPCHR). A decision in this regard taken at the Third Extra-ordinary Summit in Makkah in 2005 was accorded a statutory status at the 11th Summit in Dakar in 2008.We have since been acting swiftly in taking concrete steps toward establishing the IPCHR. In terms of the understanding reached at the SOM in Jeddah, this session of CFM would adopt the statute and hold elections of the experts to the Commission. It must be seen as a landmark exercise that would make the Astana CFM stand out in the history of OIC. It would enable us to launch the Commission and hold its first session later this year. It needs to be appreciated that what was envisaged to be achieved over a period of ten years, is on the verge of being accomplished in half the stipulated time period. This reflects the strong political will on the part of OIC Member States. I salute the commitment shown and action taken by the Member States in this important area.

Inspired by the vision of Moderation and Modernization, the OIC endeavors in the area of Human Rights are not restricted to the establishment of the Commission. We are actually working on an integrated approach aimed at mainstreaming the Human Rights perspective across the activities of the Organization .Women, children and youth are among the vulnerable sectors of the society. Our efforts are accordingly focused on eliminating discrimination, violence and other injustices and protection of their rights. We have also adopted the OIC Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women (OPAAW). I urge the Member States to expedite the signing and ratification procedures to facilitate the operationalization of the statute of the Cairo Center, to be established in connection with OPAAW. Creation of a new Department of Family Affairs in the OIC General Secretariat would contribute towards further strengthening the family as the fundamental institution in the society, within the framework of the TYPOA.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Progress in science and technology is crucial for the socio-economic development of the Muslim world and for enabling the Member States to deal with the contemporary challenges of climate change, energy, food and water security and the threat of diseases and pandemics.

The General Secretariat has steadily expanded the scope of its activities in the domains of science and technology, higher education, health and environment. The important ongoing OIC projects in these fields include the Atlas of Islamic World Science and Innovation, the Mega Project on Communication satellites, preparation of a document on “Key Performance Indicators for Universities in the Islamic World”, cooperative action involving international partners such as the WHO, Global Polio Eradication Initiative and Global Fund to fight diseases and epidemics, OIC-US mother and child health projects in Mali and Bangladesh and the preparation of OIC Water Vision. Details about these projects are available in my report submitted for your consideration. On my recent visit to some Member States in Africa I was informed about the interest of countries like Sierra Leonne to have mother-child health projects along the lines of the projects in Mali and Bangladesh. We hope to initiate discussions with our international partners in this regard.

I would like to take this opportunity to focus specifically on two issues.

Firstly, in the domain of higher education we need to examine new initiatives for utilizing the existing institutions and platforms for promoting cultural exchange and sharing of knowledge and experience through more structured interaction. For this purpose, I would invite the Member States to consider the initiation of an OIC Educational Exchange Programme.

Such an exchange programme would provide for short duration (6-10 weeks) exchange of students, researchers and teachers between higher education institutions of Member States on reciprocal basis. Similar student exchange programmes are being pursued by other regional and inter-governmental organizations to promote greater understanding and collaboration among the youths of the concerned countries.

Secondly, I would urge the esteemed Member States to focus more closely on the challenge of climate change. While historically the share of the OIC countries in green house gas emissions and global warming has been negligible, these countries are unfortunately among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The Special Committee during this session will be considering a ground-breaking draft resolution on Climate Change based on the discussions of the Open-ended meeting of climate change experts which was held at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah on 7-8 May 2011. Among other things, the draft resolution identifies opportunities for cooperation among OIC countries in the area such as Clean Development Mechanism, renewable energies, green technologies etc. It also underscores the need for regular consultations among climate change experts of OIC Member States for better coordination of OIC positions in relation to the international climate change negotiations and the Ri0 + 20 Earth Summit.

The Ten-Year Programme of Action (TYPOA) which was adopted by the 3rd Extraordinary Islamic Summit Conference held in Makkah Al-Mukarramah on 5-7 December 2005 set the agenda for the OIC to address the contemporary challenges facing the Muslim Ummah. This historic document emphasized, among other things, the need for the OIC and its institutions to carry out far reaching reforms and implement programmes so as to change their approaches and work methods in accordance with the realities of the time.

I am happy to report that significant progress has been made in this regard as well as in implementing other provisions of the Programme.

During the preceding year and in accordance with the TYPOA itself and the relevant resolutions of the Council of Foreign Ministers, we had the opportunity to carry out a Mid-Term Review of the TYPOA. This exercise was conducted by the three OIC Standing Committees namely: Standing Committee for Commercial and Economic Cooperation (COMCEC), Standing Committee for Information and Cultural Cooperation (COMIAC) and Standing Committee for Scientific and Technical Cooperation (COMSTECH) as well as OIC Departments and Institutions. The review exercise revealed that while remarkable progress had been made in the implementation of TYPOA, more efforts were still needed to meet all the targets of the Programme during the remaining period of five years. Recommendations concerning increased sense of ownership on the part of Member States, funding and implementation mechanisms were made and compiled in a synthesis report which I will present to the 12 Islamic Summit Conference for consideration and guidance.

I wish to reiterate our determination to continue using the Ten-Year Programme as a blue print in all our operations and to ensure full and effective implementation of all its provisions.

Excellencies

In the area of Dawa, we have managed to bring all major Islamic institutions and Organizations under OIC unifying banner within the framework of the Joint Islamic Action in the Field of Dawa. In so doing, we have managed to enhance coordination and cooperation in the Dawa-related spheres in alignment with the new OIC vision as reflected in the motto of “solidarity in action”. We have indeed started to elaborate executive programmes for many projects including the setting up of radio stations broadcasting on FM frequencies in the African continent and catering for African affairs in the areas of education, health, social issues, environment and Dawa, in both international and local African languages, in addition to the setting up of Arabic language teaching centers.

In today’s world of globalization, information has come to form a key part of the whole outfit of fundamental freedoms, democracy, accountability and anti-corruption work. This media power is well evidenced by the rise of the phenomenon of Islamophobia which is spread through the media hate-campaigns against Islam, inciting people to segregate Muslims on the basis of their faith. We, on our part, have always made a point of keeping in touch with the media and journalists in all fields, and we still insist on the need for greater efforts in this area in engaging with the contemporary Western media community in their own language and in an approach that accommodates their logic and cultural perspective. We also wish to pay tribute here to the idea of Maitre Abdulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairman of COMIAC, underlining the need to launch a broadcasting medium to project our voice, reach out to the other and spread our Islamic values, through an international TV channel, similar to the African Radio and TV Authority, in many languages, both international and local.

Within the framework of our information undertakings, we have produced a number of books and publications, in addition to the issue of documentary and information films which highlight the major historical landmarks of the OIC and its achievements.

In the area of humanitarian action, the General Secretariat has put in significant efforts in offering relief to the victims of the natural catastrophes that hit a number of our Member States and observers including, Palestine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Indonesia, Sudan, Somalia, Niger, Burkina Faso, the Comoro Islands, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Bosnia Herzegovina and Pakistan.

As for the area of legal affairs, the number of Member States that have thus far signed the OIC Charter has reached 44, out of whom 18 have also ratified it. And I wish to avail myself of this opportunity to urge those among our Member States that have not yet signed or ratified it, to kindly do so as soon as possible. I also urge them all to sign and ratify the other agreements and conventions.

I am also honored to inform you that after years of deliberations at the level of senior officials, consensus has been attained on the draft rules governing the Observer Status at the OIC. It is currently under review for adoption by this esteemed Council. The implementation of these rules will certainly widen the political horizon of the OIC and enhance its weight in international relations.

Another area of great concern is reaching an appropriate framework allowing interaction between the OIC and certain NGO’s. In today’s world, with globalization, technology, it is unconceivable that the OIC deprives itself from the significant additional weight of its rich and vibrant civil society. The Voice of the OIC in the world will benefit enormously from its two “missing wings”. All OIC Member States accept the consultative status of NGOs within the ECOSOC at the UN. At the same time, all legal and political guarantees are achievable to ensure that NGOs participation within the OIC constitutes’ an enrichment and not an obstacle to the realization of the purposes and objectives of the OIC Charter.

In implementation of the requisites of the TYPOA, I have the honour to inform you that the senior officials meeting preparatory to this esteemed council recommended for approval of the new logo and proposed name which reads “Organisation of Islamic Cooperation”. This name has the advantage of preserving of the Organisation acronym OIC. The new logo bears all the symbols of Islamic Ummah. I hope that both the new name and logo will get your valuable endorsement.

In concluding my statement, let me entertain the hope that the deliberations of this historic session of the CFM will not go down in the record as mere expectations and wishful thinking of expressions of good intention. That is not why we have gathered for. Let us translate the words into deeds, the intentions into meaningful actions and the premises into facts of history. Our organization derives its power from the devotion and support of its Member States .It can be an effective instrument of peace, stability and economic development to the extent its Members want it to be. So let us back it with all our force in unshakable conviction and genuine sincerity.

I thank you for your kind attention.