I wish to start by thanking His Excellency Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and President of the Security Council, for his initiative to hold this debate. I congratulate him for the presidential statement that was just adopted. I would also like to thank Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, and Professor Mr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), for their respective presentations.
As previously stated in this Council, debates of this nature present opportunities to reflect on ways of reinforcing cooperation in areas of common interest between the United Nations, regional and sub-regional organizations, in relation to the maintenance of international peace and security. In accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter, the United Nations has recognized the necessity to work together with regional organizations for reasons such as geographic proximity, expediency, and burden sharing. It is now a fact that partnership with regional and sub-regional organizations have been leading to positive outcomes in maintenance of peace and security, given their advantages of local knowledge, proximity and the capability to mobilize and respond quickly. We believe that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should also be understood in this context.
In its 38th ministerial meeting held in Astana, Kazakhstan in July 2011, the OIC, which, I recall, is a viable organization with 57 member states representing 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, reflected on its intention to engage more seriously with a growing number of International stakeholders, including its growing role in conflict prevention and promotion of dialogue and tolerance. The OIC has a track record of mediation and peacekeeping in conflict zones. We recognize its efforts in partnership with the UN and other regional and sub-regional organizations, to restore peace and security in Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, as well as the Middle East. We also commend its member states that are already contributing troops to peacekeeping missions in Africa and around the world; and recall that half of the UN top ten troops and police contributing countries are members of the OIC.
Despite those significant developments however, like for most of other regional organizations, cooperation between the United Nations and the OIC has yet to reach its full potential. This cooperation should therefore be substantially streamlined, mainly in the areas of mediating and resolving international conflicts, and we believe that the OIC can do more. Indeed, building partnerships with other international organizations such as the African Union, the European Union, the League of Arab States or the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations, and reforming its processes through capacity building and other means, will improve it’s ability to contribute to the resolution of seemingly intractable conflicts that are affecting the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the fight against terrorism and the promotion of intercultural and religious dialogue around the World.
We believe that the OIC has a special expertise to tackle the cultural component that has always been one of the driving factors of conflicts in its member states. These cultural and linguistic skills are invaluable in conducting knowledge-based and culturally sensitive mediation. The OIC’s cultural competency gives the organization access to specific conflict zones that would have otherwise remained unreachable to other organizations, including the United Nations. For instance in Somalia, due to its rigorous understanding of local Somali culture, the OIC was allowed by Al Shabaab to intervene in the delivery of humanitarian assistance in their areas of control. This comparative advantage could be used in other complex situations, including in Syria.
It is therefore important that the UN keep this partnership with the OIC, not only to strengthen cooperation on areas of mutual interest, but also to keep open, channels of communication in difficult areas where the UN and other regional organizations, do not enjoy full access.
Of the 57 OIC member states, 27 are members of the African Union; 22 countries are members in the League of Arab States; and 7 are members of both the African Union and the League of Arab States. That is why we make the call for OIC to partner with other regional organizations in order to enhance coordination and avoid duplication of efforts. It is only through synergies between all those organizations that the OIC will have greater potential to better achieve success in maintenance of peace and security in our regions.
I thank you Mr. President