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The Organization of the Islamic Conference

2000/11/15
The first Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers was held in March, 1970. It decided to set up the Organization of the Islamic Conference (the OIC), which was formally founded in May.

The primary goals of the Organization of the Islamic Conference are to promote solidarity among all member states; to consolidate cooperation among member states in economic, social, cultural, scientific, and other fields of activity; to endeavor to eliminate racial segregation and discrimination and to oppose colonialism in all its forms; to support the Palestinian people in their struggle to regain their national rights and to return to their homeland; and, to support all Muslim people in their struggle to safeguard their dignity, independence and national rights.

There are altogether 55 member states (1999):

Albania, Algeria, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Oman, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Palestine, Pakistan, Bahrain, Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gabon, Cameroon, Qatar, Comoro, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Bangladesh, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Zanzibar, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Tunisia, Turkey, Brunei, Uganda, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, Jordan, Chad, Turkmenistan, Mozambique, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Suriname.

Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Dr. Abdelouahed Belkeziz (Moroccan) was elected during the 27th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in June, 2000 for a term of 4 years.

The Secretariat of the Organization of the Islamic Conference is located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference system includes:

i) Summit Conference: the highest policy-making organ, held every three years.

ii) The Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers: held once in one member country every year.

iii) Permanent Secretariat.

In addition, there is Islamic Development Bank, Jerusalem Committee, Afghanistan Committee, Islamic Peace Committee, Islamic Court of Justice, Islamic Solidarity Fund, and Islamic Economy and Trade Permanent Committee, etc.

From 1969, when the Organization of the Islamic Conference was not yet founded, to 1997, eight Islamic Summit Conferences had been convened, respectively in Rabat, Morocco, from September 22nd to 25th, 1969; in Lahore, Pakistan, from February 22nd to 24th, 1974; in Mecca and Ta'if, Saudi Arabia, from January 25th to 29th, 1981; in Casablanca, Morocco, from January 16th to 19th, 1984; in Kuwait City from January 26th to 29th, 1987; in Dakar, Senegal, from December 9th to 11th, 1991; in Casablanca, Morocco, from December 13th to 15th, 1994; and in Iran's capital Tehran from December 9th to 15th, 1997. Delegations from 53 member states were sent to attend the 8th Summit Conference of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, among which heads of states and governments of nearly 30 countries were present. The conference adopted " Tehran Declaration", "Summit Conference Statement", and " Final Communiqué", all three with the theme of dignity, dialogue and participation, and also 140 solutions regarding political, economic, social and cultural affairs.

The 9th Summit Conference was held in Qatar's capital Doha from Nov. 12 to 14, 2000. There were over 4000 participants including heads of states governments, on their representations from 55 member states, the UN Secretary-General, the Secretary General of the Islamic Conference, the Secretary-Generals of the Arab League and OAU, 4 observers and representatives of the Islamic Organizations. Taking as the theme "Peace and Development "Alaqsa Intifada", the Conference had a wide-ranging discussion and consultation on issues and challenges faced by Islamic countries in the political, economic, social and cultural fields, the Palestine-Israel conflict, the present situation in Palestine, the Iraq question, the strengthening of solidarity among the Islamic countries and removing differences. Some consensus were reached on these questions. The next Summit Meeting would be held in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur in 2003.

On March 23rd, 1997, the Organization of the Islamic Conference convened the first Special Summit Conference in Pakistan's capital Islamabad. The conference held discussions on the various problems confronting the Organization of the Islamic Conference in the 21st century, and also issued a statement on the present Jerusalem issue and disputes between India and Pakistan.

June 15-17, 1999, representatives from 49 OIC member states held a meeting in Tehran, declaring the establishment of the Parliamentary Union of OIC Members with its headquarters in Tehran.

Up till December 2001, there had been 10 Emergency Meetings of Foreign Ministers and 28 Meetings of Foreign Ministers.

On May 26, 2001, the 8th Emergency Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the OIC member states was held in Doha, capital of Qatar, mainly discussing the then prevailing grim Palestinian situation.

On October 10, 2001, the 9th Emergency Meeting of Foreign Ministers was held in the Qatari capital of Doha with the attendance of foreign ministers or their representatives of the 57 OIC member states. Also present at the meeting were Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the OIC Secretary-General and the Arab League Secretary-General. The meeting held consultations about the international impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.A., the consequences of the impending U.S. military strikes against Afghanistan, and the Palestine question. The OIC member states reached a wide range of consensus on the struggle against terrorism, on the opposition to interrelating terrorism with Islam, and on the accurate delineations of terror activities and of struggles for legitimate national rights and interests. The meeting issued "The Final Communiqué", strongly denouncing the attacks on the U.S.A. while expressing worries over the sufferings of the Afghan people and the possible extension of the war and deciding to establish a foundation to aid the Afghan refugees.

On December 10, 2001, the 10th Emergency Meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers was held in Doha, focusing their discussion on the deteriorating regional situation as a consequence of the continual Israeli military strikes against the Palestinian Autonomous Regions. The meeting issued a final communiqué, calling on the UN Security Council to do its duty to stop Israel from its aggressive acts against Palestine and to send international observers as soon as possible to protect the safety of the Palestinian people; urging the United States, Russia and the European Union to intervene immediately to stop the Israeli military actions and demanding that the U.S. implement the positive clauses of its Middle East Peace Initiative Thrust in order to end the conflict; condemning the Israeli militaristic acts; and rejecting the equation of terrorism with the legitimate rights of the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese peoples to resist aggression. The meeting also charged Syria, Qatar, Morocco, Senegal, Malaysia, Oman, Mali and the OIC Secretary-General with the mission of forming an Aid-Palestine Committee to go canvassing the UN Security Council permanent member states, the UN Secretary-General and the President of the European Union for aid-Palestine matters. Chairman Arafat of the Palestine National Authority was unable to attend the meeting owing to Israeli obstructions.

The 28th Meeting of Foreign Ministers was held in the Malian capital of Bamako on June 25-27, 2001 with the attendance of the foreign ministers or their representatives of the 56 OIC member states. With "Peace, Security and Development" as its theme, the meeting carried on discussions on Palestine and the Middle East situation, economic sanctions, African economic development and debts, the status of the ethnic Moslem minorities in non-OIC member countries, and the institutional reforms of the United Nations. The meeting admitted Cote d'Ivoire as the 57th member state of OIC, and decided on the United Arab Emirates as the host country for the next Meeting of Foreign Ministers.

China had contact with the Organization of the Islamic Conference long ago and has been on friendly terms with it ever since. During the 2nd Islamic Summit Conference held in February 1974, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai sent a message of congratulation to the conference. When the 3rd Islamic Summit Conference was held in January 1981, Premier Zhao Ziyang sent a congratulatory telegram to the conference. In May 1986, the Islamic Development Bank decided to present 4.06 million US dollars to China. During the 5th and 6th Summit Conference held respectively in January 1987 and December 1991, Premier Li Peng sent telegrams of congratulations to both conferences. In February, 1993, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Hamid Al Gabid sent a letter to Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, expounding on the stand of the Organization of the Islamic Conference on the Bosnia and Herzegovina issue. In March 1993, President of Senegal and Executive Chairman of the OIC Abdou Diouf sent a letter to Chinese President Yang Shangkun, expounding on the stand of the OIC regarding Israel's banishment of Palestinians and seeking China's support. In August 1993, a delegation at the ministerial level of the OIC led by Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdu'l Sattar visited China, setting forth the Islamic countries' position on the Bosnia and Herzegovina issue. In December 1993, President of Senegal and Executive Chairman of the OIC Abdou Diouf sent a telegram to Chinese President Jiang Zemin regarding the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He condemned the Bosnia Serbs and appealed to China to exert the influence of a big nation and use the personal prestige of President Jiang to urge the Serbia leaders to strictly abide by the international law and the UN resolutions. In November 1994, Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Muhammad headed a delegation to visit China at the invitation of the Chinese Islamic Association. They exchanged views with the Chinese side regarding such questions as promoting mutual understanding and developing bilateral relations, and also forwarded Secretary-General Gabid's letter to Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen. In April 1995, Deputy Secretary-General of the OIC Muhammad met with Head of the Chinese Mecca Pilgrimage Group and Vice Chairman of Chinese Islamic Association Ma Xian. In July, a delegation of the OIC made up of General Director of the Multi-lateral Cooperation Department in the Foreign Ministry of Morocco Ben Hima, Pakistan's ambassador to Turkey Haq, and the OIC's representative to Morocco Muta visited China and expounded on the Islamic countries' position on the Bosnia and Herzegovina issue. China's Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo received the delegation. In February 1997, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Laraki sent a telegram to President Jiang Zemin, extending his condolences on the death of Deng Xiaoping. In December 1997, Premier Li Peng sent a telegram to the Organization of the Islamic Conference congratulating the convening of the 8th Summit Conference of the OIC. In January 1998, Iranian President Khatami sent a letter to Premier Li Peng in the name of Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, expressing thanks for the Chinese government's telegram of congratulations. On Nov. 10, 2000, Premier Zhu Rongji sent a message of congratulations on the occasion of the convocation of the 9th Summit Meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. On May 23, 2001, OIC Secretary-General Balekaziz sent a letter to Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, calling on China to play her role as a UN Security Council permanent member in pushing the Security Council to provide international protection for the Palestinian people. On May 31, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan sent a letter of reply to OIC Secretary-General Balekaziz, reiterating China's consistent position on the Palestine-Israel issue and expressing China's readiness to strengthen cooperation with the OIC to contribute to the realization of peace and stability in the Middle East region. On October 9 of the same year, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan had a telephone conversation with Hamad, OIC President and Qatari Foreign Secretary, expounding China's stand on the anti-terror question and expressing China's readiness to strengthen consultation and cooperation with the numerous Islamic countries.
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