ISTAMBUL, Turkey–The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the second largest inter-governmental body after the U.N. will convene Heads of State from across its 57 member states at the 13th Islamic Summit – hosted by the Government of Turkey in Istanbul between April 10-15.
The Summit will be geared towards Heads of State adopting a “Ten-year plan of action” for the Islamic world that addresses challenges including the Arab-Israeli conflict, rising Islamophobia and the plight of the Myanmar’s Rohingya.
Over 30 Heads of State are expected to attend the summit, with confirmed leaders including Turkish President, Recep Erdogan, the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Tammam Salam and the President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas amongst others.
The theme of the Summit “Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace” is designed to address critical regional and international challenges facing the Muslim world, particularly the significant security and development challenges facing the OIC Member States.
A key goal of the summit is to adopt the “OIC Programme of Action: 2016-2025”; a ten-year strategic vision for the Islamic world encompassing peace and security, terrorism and extremism, humanitarian work, human rights, poverty alleviation, eradication of epidemics, women’s empowerment, higher education and science and technology within OIC Member States.
Specific issues Heads of State are due to discuss as part of efforts to establish a ten-year plan of action include the following:
Establishing an International Peace Conference to help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict:
The OIC Assistant Secretary General for Palestine, Ambassador Samir Diyab, stated the Istanbul summit would likely see enhanced efforts by Heads of State towards convening an international peace conference to develop mechanisms for providing international protection for the Palestinian people and ending Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, pursuant to United Nations resolutions and the Arab peace initiative.
He further stated that the Istanbul summit will deliberate upon the escalation of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people as well as Islamic and Christian holy sites in Al-Quds and its surroundings. These include demolition and confiscation of Palestinian homes, settlement activities and the building of accession wall and other similar practices aimed at altering the Arab and Islamic character, geography and demographic composition of Al-Quds. Also to be discussed is the illegal and provocative excavation work being carried out beneath the Al-Aqsa Haram Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque. The summit will also discuss the constant incursion of Israeli settlers and officials into the courtyard of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Ambassador Diyab stated the OIC supports the efforts of Palestine to accede to international treaties and organizations in order to strengthen the legality of the State of Palestine at the international level.
Solving mistreatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar:
The OIC, as the collective voice of the Muslim world is expected to urge the new Government of Myanmar to launch an all-inclusive reconciliation process involving all the constituents of the Rohingya Muslim community, including those who have lost their citizenship, all internally displaced persons, refugees, and others who have obtained no papers either in Myanmar or elsewhere.
It is also expected that an appeal will be made at the Summit to Member States that possess political, diplomatic and economic ties with the Government of Myanmar to leverage those relations to halt discrimination and violence against Rohingya Muslims.
Countering Islamophobia internationally:
The summit will focus on establishing a set of practical measures to counter mounting anti-Muslim sentiment, both in western countries and other regions of the world.
The Director General of Cultural, Social and Family Affairs of the OIC, Mrs. Mehla Ahmed Talebna, said Summit will attempt to agree a set of measures to counter Islamophobia. Member States will also be urged to establish stronger dialogue with the international community at the bilateral and multilateral levels and engage with the West in order to establish stronger cross-cultural and religious ties as a counterweight to polarising sentiment against religious minorities.
Addressing extremism and terrorism:
The Director General of Cultural, Social and Family Affairs of the OIC, Mrs. Mehla Ahmed Talebna, said the Summit will discuss the need to reinforce the role of religious and social leaders in halting tendencies towards extremism, which sometimes fuel Islamophobia, by encouraging the principles of tolerance, moderation, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence.
The OIC Secretary General said, “the OIC Islamic Summit is the largest gathering of Muslim leaders in the world. It presents a unique opportunity for Muslim world leaders to address challenges across the breadth of the Islamic world, something needed more now than ever.”
“The Islamic summit will focus on fostering a collective vision for the Muslim world over the next ten years. The Islamic Summit offers the only forum in which such a vision can practically be agreed on by Heads of State and official delegations from across the entire Muslim world.“
Mr Madani also added “the 13th Islamic Summit will focus on exceptionally critical circumstances, regionally and internationally, including the daunting security and development challenges facing the OIC Member States”.