From 12-13 July, the President of the United Nations General Assembly hosted a High-Level Thematic Debate under the theme of “UN@70--Human Rights at the centre of the global agenda”. Over the two days, UN Member States heard remarks from the UN System on their efforts to streamline and promote human rights into Agenda 2030 and other frameworks, participated in interactive panel discussions with human rights experts and shared their own efforts to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon opened the meeting by describing human rights as the most powerful driver of peace and development and called upon Governments to meet their responsibilities, he argued that the UN has launched the Human Rights Upfront initiative as a means to ensure that human rights are a priority across the system.
The president of the General Assembly, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft joined the UN Secretary General by referencing the recent violence and terrorist acts and stating that these incidents had undermined global values such as equality, tolerance, dignity, pluralism and liberty. “Intolerance, xenophobia and injustice had become worryingly common place in many countries.”
Over 80 UN Member States took the floor to share their experiences and commitments to making human rights a priority and three Observers.
Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev, Permanent Observer of the OIC to the United Nations shared the highlights of the work of the OIC for the past year. He referenced the updated OIC 2025 Plan of Action which contains action points in 18 areas and serves as a compliment to the United Nations Agenda 2030 as well as the review of the OIC Plan of Action and Advancement for Women. Further, he discussed the work of the 9th Session of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission and reminded the UN Membership of the ongoing Israeli violations of human rights against the Palestinian people. He repeated the call of the OIC for the end of the inhumane, illegal Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. He also called for increased cooperation to secure the basic human rights of the Rohingya Muslim Minority in Myanmar.
His complete statement:
Statement on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the High-level thematic debate
entitled “UN@70 – Human rights at the centre of the global agenda”
Statement to be delivered by
Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev
Permanent Observer, Organization of Islamic Cooperation
13 July 2016
Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honor to speak today on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation General Secretariat and I am honored to update you all on some the OIC’s activities in the area of Human Rights over the past year as well as the work of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission over their past substantive session.
We have been keenly following the UN’s efforts to place people at the center of sustainable development and its focus on making human rights the center of the global agenda.
This past year has seen the OIC move forward with a number of simultaneous processes that show our commitment to human rights across our region. The adoption of the second OIC Ten Year Programme of Action (OIC 2025) took place during 13th OIC Islamic Summit, hosted by the government of Turkey just this past April. The General Secretariat is now working in consultation with relevant OIC organs to propose implementation plans for each of the 18 sectors outlined in the updated program of action. The new plan of action has taken into consideration the UN Sustainable Development Goals and complimented them by focusing on those core issues that are most important to OIC Member States. While I won’t mention them all, I would like to highlight that the plan focuses on, among other issues, Palestine and Al Quds; peace and security; cultural and interfaith harmony, climate change and sustainability; poverty alleviation; agriculture and food security; education; employment; health and of course, a section devoted to human rights, good governance and accountability.
The new OIC 2025 plan of action seeks to focus on reflecting the following principles as central to the development and implementation of the plan, including: taking into account the aspirations of the people of its Member states, promoting solidarity amongst Member States, partnership and cooperation, creating opportunities for country ownership and leadership of OIC projects; a collective approach for identifying targets and implementation of projects; good governance; and, effective coordination and synergy in the region. I invite you all to review the detailed plan, which is located on the OIC web site.
In a similar fashion, the OIC took concrete steps in revising and editing its Plan of Action and Advancement for Women over the past year. The original OPAAW was adopted 10 years ago, and has made great strides in the promotion and advancement of women in the OIC Region. This year, the OIC General Secretariat convened 2 meetings of Member State and OIC experts to finalize the revision of the OIC Plan of Action and Advancement for Women (OPAAW). This revised document is a natural follow up to the first OPAAW and moves forward the goals of the original OPAAW that are central to promoting the empowerment of women and girls in the OIC region. The revised plan of action will soon be presented to OIC Member States for adoption, in time for the upcoming 2016 Ministerial Conference on Women to be hosted in Istanbul, Turkey.
As you know, the OIC established an Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission in 2011. Since that time, it has held a number of thematic debates and most recently, during the Ninth Session of the OIC IPHRC, a debate was held on “The Impact of Women’s Empowerment on the Sustainable Development of Member States”. The Commission will hold its 2016 annual seminar on the “Right to Development” in collaboration with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, scheduled for this October and will take place in the United Arab Emirates.
When speaking to the OIC IPHRC, His Excellency, Mr. Iyad Ameen Madani stated that “women’s empowerment remains a key priority for the OIC region. It recognizes that the issue is not only a matter of gender equality and fulfillment of human rights promises, but an enabler and a transformative force for sustainable development, peace and security.” He went on to remind those in attendance that the OIC Charter emphasizes the pivotal role of women in sustainable development and calls for women’s access to all opportunities, in particular, good education, healthcare and access to the marketplace, equality and recognition by the law.
Also on the agenda for the 9th Regular Session of the IPHRC included an in depth discussion on all items on its agenda including Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in OIC Member States, Islamophobia and incitement to hatred, the situation of human rights in Kashmir as well as the human rights situations of Myanmar and the Central African Republic.
I wish to highlight three of these issues: first, the ongoing, deplorable situation of the Palestinian people. The Commission recently visited Palestine, and has repeatedly called for immediate action by all relevant actors, including the UN Security Council to put an end to the continued suffering of innocent Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli occupation and to lift the inhumane Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Second, the situation of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar continues to be of the utmost concern to the OIC. We look forward to continued formal and informal engagement with government authorities to secure basic human rights for those Rohingya in Rakhine State. Last, but certainly not least, the OIC and IPHRC are concerned with the seemingly increased incidents of Islamophobia, particularly in the west. We would encourage increased cooperation with centers for interreligious and intercultural dialogue, like the King Abdulaziz Center in Vienna and renewed commitment to the Istanbul Process and the fulfillment of obligations arising out of Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 and the subsequent General Assembly Resolutions in an effort to promote tolerance and understanding.
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate the OIC General Secretariat’s commitment to ensuring the human rights of people, worldwide, and we will continue to work with our partners, regional organizations, civil society to ensure that the human rights of all people are at the center of our work to ensure a better tomorrow.
Thank you Mr. President.