I thank you, Sir, for organizing this debate to allow the Council to consider an issue that is dear to my country, namely, the contributions of regional and subregional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security and promoting rule of law. I thank the Secretary-General for his statement.
I welcome the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in his first opportunity to speak before the Council. I congratulate him on his dynamic efforts, which have led to profound changes in the OIC. We look forward to soon working with his predecessor, Mr. Iyad Madani, whom we welcome and wish every success in carrying out his functions in future.
France has strengthened its relations with the OIC. We have appointed a special envoy to the organization and we hold regular political consultations on issues of common interest such as the Syrian crisis, the Middle East peace process, the Arab Spring, Mali and the fight against international terrorism. We have also decided to deepen our exchanges on human rights.
We welcome the adoption by the OIC of the 10-year programme of action to meet the challenges facing the Muslim Ummah in the twenty-first century. While the Arab and Muslim world faces major crises, dialogue between the United Nations and the OIC on topics such as conflict prevention and mediation, human rights, humanitarian assistance and refugees, the fight against terrorism and intercultural dialogue is essential. It must be strengthened.
I should like to undescore several aspects of the OIC’s contribution to the achievement of the United Nations objectives.
First, I hail the courgeous commitment of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the Syrian conflict. Since the beginning of the Syrian tragedy, the OIC has tirelessly called on the Council to carry out its responsibilities to put an end to the bloodshed. The OIC has underscored that the primary responsibility for the ongoing violence, murders and slaughters lies with the Syrian Government. All that has led to the deaths of thousands of unarmed civilians. The OIC has condemned those massacres, perpetrated in cities and towns by the Syrian authorities. Given the intransigence of the Syrian regime and its persistent will to pursue a military solution to the crisis, the OIC leadership took the courageous decision to suspend Syria from the organization in August 2012.
The OIC has also held the Syrian Government fully responsible for chemical attacks against the Syrian people, which took place on 21 August in Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus. As Mr. İhsanoğlu indicated, the use of such arms in Syria should be considered a war crime and a crime against humanity. The perpetrators of that odious crime must be brought to justice. On Syria, we share the same objective: putting an end to this conflict through a political solution that will allow the Syrian people to achieve their aspirations for freedom and justice.
We also believe that the Middle East peace process is a central question. We very much hope that negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis will allow for a negotiated solution based on the coexistence of two States, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security.
Furthermore, we appreciate the mediations efforts undertaken by the OIC through the good offices of its Secretary-General in Somalia, where the organization is an active member of the International Contact Group, as well as in Afghanistan. We would also like to hail the commitment of OIC member countries in the service of peacekeeping and peacebuilding through the contribution of military and police for peacekeeping operations.
As the Secretary-General has also underscored, the OIC is also an important partner for the United Nations in the humanitarian field. A memorandum of agreement and a plan of action was signed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the OIC in 2011. The two organizations have worked closely in Somalia and the Philippines and more recently in Syria, where they conducted a joint assessment of humanitarian needs. In 2011 and 2012, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the OIC worked together to convene an international ministerial conference on refugees in the Muslim world.
I should also like to hail the commitment of the OIC in the fight against terrorism. As noted repeatedly by the Secretary-General of OIC, nothing justifies international terrorism. In the fight against terrorism and radical extremism, we all know that we enjoy the support of Muslims around the world who condemn those who distort or manipulate their religion.
The OIC is also a central interlocator for the initiative of the Alliance of Civilizations. We are pleased that the United Nations and the OIC are commited to strengthening their dialogue to promote tolerance and peace. It is essential to protect and promote, everywhere, the freedom of religion or belief and the rights of individuals belonging to religious minorities.
With regard to human rights, we hope that the Permanent and Independent Commission for Human Rights that the OIC has created will effectively contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights for all those living in OIC member countries, with respect for the universal principles of human rights.
To conclude, I wish to emphasize that the partnership between the United Nations and regional organizations is a very topical matter. The severity and the number of conflicts around the world require calling up all available resources. This partnership must continue in line with the relevant principles and provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, under the auspices of the Security Council. That is how we will ensure coherent international action, clarity in actions taken by the United Nations, and respect for the core values of our Organization.