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Yazar Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu   
06-09-2006
The statement of the Secretary General of the organization of the Islamic Conference, Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, at the opening session of the OIC extended executive committee meeting at the heads of state/government level


Putrajaya, 3 august 2006



Excellencies,


I greet all of you with deepest respect. Today we gathered here at an emergency session upon the invitation of Honourable  Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to discuss the recent important developments in Palestine and Lebanon.  We are grateful to Honourable Prime Minister for this timely initiative and H.E. Minister Al Bar for the excellent arrangements made for this meeting at a very short notice.  I should express our heartfelt appreciation  for the pioneering initiatives of Malaysia to advance and defend the sublime causes of the Islamic Ummah since the establishment of our organization. At the same time, this meeting is also yet another fine example of the wise and effective leadership exhibited within our organization by H.E. Prime Minister Badawi in the political, economic, social and development spheres during Malaysia`s  Chairmanship of the OIC Summit. 

 

Excellencies,


We are faced with an unjustified all-out-war against our Palestinian and Lebanese brothers and sisters. We are profoundly preoccupied that alarming escalation of hostilities threaten to provoke massive destruction and blood-letting in the Middle East and beyond.  International humanitarian values and international law are being horrendously violated while the UN Security Council, supposedly the custodian of the international peace and security seems ineffective and disabled in stopping the ongoing human tragedy.  


The developments are shocking. Islamic Ummah is outraged.  Anger is spreading all over the Muslim World.  They do not understand how this human tragedy is allowed to continue in front of the eyes of the international community. They are perplexed in the face of gross double standards applied by the international community.      


I am afraid that the anger of the Muslim masses is being transformed into permanent hatred against the agresors and their explicit and implicit protectors. The psychological basis for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace is being destroyed.      


Excellencies,


Heartbreaking scenes of unprecedented dimensions, massive killings of civilians on a daily basis, depriving the survivors of all vital provisions, ruining their essential civilian infrastructures for basic public services, destroying all their hopes for a future, ignoring all fundamental human rights, and furthermore, with the arrogance of an absolute power, shutting the ears to the cries of people of conscience and trying to silence the world with political sophistries, cannot and should not be the marking features of the new world order and the promised new Middle East.


Any efforts toward a solution of the conflict and establishment of a durable peace in the Middle East must take into consideration how this conflict emerged in the first place and how it evolved in time into its present grave state. Basing our judgments on the last month’s events alone would lead us to wrong conclusions. The problem has been going on for almost sixty years since the denial of the Palestinian people’s right to life and territory. Other Arab lands are also still under Israeli occupation. A solution  can only be reached through the  implementation of all relevant resolutions taken by the United Nations and the Security Council on this subject to date and by the restitution of all the usurped rights accordingly. The international community should call for the implementation of the Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 with the same determination and insistence it deploys for the implementation of resolution 1559. Any initiative lacking this fair attitude on the issue is bound to failure.


It is absolutely imperative to secure an immediate ceasefire which will be followed by an exchange of prisoners and a process of disengagement through an international force supervised by the United Nations. There is also an  urgent need to lend our support to the Lebanese national dialogue so as to give the Lebanese people the opportunity to make their unconditionally free choice of whatever political arrangements suit their situation, away from any external interference or pressures.


We   call for a comprehensive approach to the solution of the problems of the Middle East in order to root out the causes of tension provoked by the Israeli occupation of some territories of Arab and Palestinian countries, which has brought the Middle East to a boiling point, making it one of the world’s most volatile places and fertile grounds for extremists to act out their violence. We are calling for an international conference to give a new meaning and strength to the efforts aiming at reaching a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 can serve as a basis for this conference.    

I am afraid at this juncture, failure of peace initiatives would endanger not only the peace efforts in the Middle East, but peace and stability in the whole world. As past and present experiences have shown, yet another failure in this regard can instigate further violence and terror. It is impossible to ignore the destruction of regional stability and accompanying catastrophes that have been caused by military interventions prompted by wrong observations and diagnoses and on wrong premise.


The hegemony that today’s superior powers strive to establish would not last long, since a world set on violence would carry in itself the forces of its own destruction. Absolute power would fall short of destroying the fundamental values of existence and of the universe. Those who think history has come to its end cannot escape history’s judgment, since history will remain as long as humanity remains. And the episodes of history are full of lessons.


Excellencies,


It will not be possible to establish stability, peace and democracy in the Middle East as long as the root causes of the present disaster are not eliminated. The first condition of a permanent and comprehensive peace in the Middle East is to replace the old intentions by the new ones. If the unilateral goals and ambitions which created the heart-breaking and horrifying scenes of today and the approaches that violate the legitimate rights of the peoples and rights of sovereignty of the states of the region continue, the prospects for the future of the Middle East and  beyond can be even more dismal.


Excellencies, 


The General Secretariat has taken numerous actions with a view to alleviate the sufferings of the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples caused by the Israeli aggression.   


When the recent crisis first started in Palestine, I immediately contacted the Palestinian leadership. I engaged with the Russian authorities, UN Secretary General and EU High Representative in addition to my contacts with the OIC member states.  In close coordination with the ICFM Chairman, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, I instructed the OIC Permanent Observer to the UN to take initiative to convene the OIC Ambassadorial Group in New York for an extraordinary meeting on 5 July 2006. The Group urged the United Nations Security Council to take all the necessary measures and decisions and called on the international community, particularly the Quartet, to take the effective steps in order to restore confidence between all parties with a view to reviving the peace process and returning back to the negotiating table.


Following the escalation caused by the assault of Israel on Lebanon,  I sent a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Kofi Annan on 13 July 2006 to convey the profound preoccupation and concern of the Islamic world with regard to the alarming escalation of hostilities. I drew his attention to the fact that Israeli actions were in total disregard of the international humanitarian laws and norms, and civilized values and practices. I asked the United Nations, as the unique international organ entrusted with restoring peace and security in the world, to urgently intervene in order to stop the present escalation. I informed the UN Secretary General that that the OIC stands ready to actively help all efforts and initiatives.  


I addressed a similar letter on 15 July 2006, to  the Prime Minister of Finland, Mr. Matti Vanhanen,  in his capacity as the  Chairman of the Presidency of the European Union. I asked the EU to intervene to stop the Israeli aggression violating all international humanitarian laws.   


I have contacted the Russian authorities on 16 July, once more, before the G-8 Summit, requesting them to bring the grave concerns and expectations of the Islamic world to the attention of the G-8 leaders. 


Upon my telephone conversation with the Prime Minister of Lebanon on 16 July, I addressed letters to the Heads of State of all OIC Member States urging them to use their good offices with the permanent members of the Security  Council to achieve an immediate cease-fire and as well as to provide material assistance to Lebanon.


Then, as of 23 July I have engaged with the leaders, Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers of many Member States, in particular Malaysia,   regarding the possibility of convening an emergency OIC meeting to tackle the developments and come up with a joint position. I continued my contacts with the ICFM Chairman,  Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, H.E. Elmar Mehmetyarov. Meanwhile, some OIC members participated at the international conference,  held in Rome on 26 July 2006, which failed to address the crisis.   


Excellencies,


The newly established UN Human Rights Council concluded its first session on 30 June 2006 by adopting  a resolution on   'human rights situation in Palestinian and other occupied Arab territories` submitted by the OIC group in Geneva. The OIC group  played very crucial role in the process of the drafting of the resolution as well as securing the needed votes for its adoption. According to the resolution, human rights violations committed by Israel in the territories will be discussed on a permanent basis in all of the Council’s  meetings and the Council’s inspectors/rapporteurs  will prepare a report on the Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied territories for the Council’s next session scheduled for September.  
 
 

The OIC countries also succeeded in obtaining the signatures of one-third of the 47 Council members in order to hold a special discussion on “human rights violations by Israel in the territories” during the Council’s first session. The first special session of the newly established Human Rights Council was convened on 5 and 6 July 2006. The Council expressed grave concern at the violations of human rights of the Palestinian people caused by the Israeli occupation,  decided to dispatch an urgent fact-finding mission headed by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,  and called for a negotiated solution to the current crisis.


On 17 July 2006 OIC Group in Geneva held an extraordinary meeting and considered the tragic conditions in Lebanon and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Upon the decision of the Group, a delegation representing the Group same day met separately with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Madam Louise Arbour and President of the Human Rights Council Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba. The OIC Ambassadorial delegation expressed dismay over ineffective response by the international community to save innocent people and emphasized the responsibility of the United Nations to take immediate action to address the situation. The delegation urged the High Commissioner and the President of the Human Rights Council to take appropriate steps to send a fact-finding mission to the Occupied Territories in pursuance of the resolution adopted by the Special session of the HRC on 6 July 2006.


On 19 July 2006, OIC Ambassadorial Group in New York had an extraordinary meeting before the UN Security Council Meeting  and issued a statement urging the UN Security Council to take an immediate decision to establish a comprehensive cease-fire and to lift the Israeli blockade imposed on Lebanon and to exercise its duties as stipulated by the Charter of the United Nations in protecting the rights of states and respecting their sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.  The statement of the OIC Group was submitted on 20 July by the OIC Group Chairman and the OIC Permanent Representative to the President of the Security Council, Permanent Representative of France whom in turn circulated the OIC Group Statement   to the members of the Security Council.  


On 20 July 2006, I sent two letters to the High Commissioner Arbour and the President of the Human Rights Council Mr. Alba, drawing their attention to the fact that the Israeli attacks constituted a grave violation of the  UN Charter and international law including international humanitarian and human rights law, particularly Geneva Convention with regard to the protection of civilians.

 

Upon the letter I received from H.E. President of Senegal, a few days ago, I have instructed the OIC Permanent Observer in New York, to continue to exert every possible efforts to mobilize the OIC Group there to take every possible initiative including calling for emergency sessions of the Security Council and a General Assembly Meeting on the situation in the Middle East.  As you know, recent developments in the field, in particular Second Qana Massacre, forced the Security Council to meet a few times. However due to the unequivocal support of one of the Permanent members in favour of Israel, the Council until now could neither condemn the Israeli acts nor call for an immediate cease-fire.  Still, it is of crucial importance that the OIC Group in New York continues to spare no efforts vis-à-vis the UN organs in effective unity and solidarity expected and deserved by our peoples.     


Yesterday the Secretariat received a request from the H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt. Egypt requests this Special Meeting of the OIC Executive Committee to call for the convening of a special session of the Human Rights Council. That special session would be dedicated to the examination of the violations of international humanitarian law, committed through the Israeli attacks, especially the attack on the village of Qana, with a view to dispatching an international commission  to establish those violations, document damage, and determine responsibility that allows further international criminal judicial pursuit.  


Excellencies,


I am happy to note that many OIC member states have taken exemplary action to provide considerable financial and material relief assistance for our Palestinian and Lebanese brothers and sisters.


Following my conversation on 16 July with Prime Minister Siniora, and the subsequent letter I received from him on 18 July, I addressed letters to the Heads of State of the OIC member states to provide urgent humanitarian relief material to Lebanon.  Accordingly, I have invited all member states and all their philanthropic organizations and civil society institutions to extend all kinds of assistance to the beleaguered people of Lebanon. The list of the relief assistance materials requested by the Lebanese Prime Minister was also transmitted to the member states by the Secretariat. 


Meanwhile, the General Secretariat has initiated an extensive relief campaign in cooperation with the IDB and ICCI. A bank account has been opened on 23 July 2006 for raising financial donations from the member states as well as Muslim institutions and individuals. The General Secretariat sent a circular Note to all member states, requesting their generous donations to this account and their assistance to publicize it among their citizens. We urge the member states to open separate bank accounts in their own countries to ease the collection of donations from their citizens.  The first contribution to the campaign came from the staff of the General Secretariat who donated a percentage of their one monthly salary.


The proceeds of the campaign will be allocated to both Lebanon and Palestine.


Two days ago we organized a meeting in Istanbul with the non-governmental relief organizations of the member states to discuss the ways of developing a strategy for render various relief efforts effective and coordinated. NGOs voiced their determination to work under the umbrella of OIC. They set up a task force. We are happy to note that the participating Muslim relief and charity organizations have already delivered more than 200 tons of relief material to Lebanon and Palestine.


I also agreed with the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to allocate certain amounts for the reparation of some of the devastation in Lebanon.


I sincerely hope that with your support the OIC relief campaign will effectively contribute to the efforts of remedying the wounds in Palestine and Lebanon.  


Excellencies,


In conclusion I reiterate our strong condemnation and denunciation of the ruthless Israeli operations being perpetrated against Palestine and Lebanon. Israeli aggressions have defied all norms and flouted international laws and conventions. What they are doing amounts to war crimes that target innocent civilians, killing hundreds of people and utterly destroying the basic infrastructure of both the Lebanese State and the Palestinian State.


Our peoples expect from us to take urgent action. They want us to voice their tremendous anger and concern.  They want us to unite in solidarity to exert pressure in every fora for an immediate cease-fire and be an influential actor in reaching a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. I sincerely hope and pray God the Almighty that this gathering will constitute a new turning point for the joint Islamic action.


Thank you for your attention.        

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