General Studies IIInternational OrganizationsINTERNATIONAL RELATION

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) 


Recently, India has lashed out at the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for being “communal minded” amid the Karnataka hijab row.

About Organisation of Islamic Cooperation :

  • The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), formerly the Organisation of the Islamic Conference,
  • It is an international organization founded in 1969,
  • Consisting of 57 member states.
  • The organisation states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”.
  • The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union.
  • The official languages of the OIC are Arabic, English, and French
  • It maintains various affiliated, specialized, and subsidiary organs within the framework of OIC Charter.
  • The member states had a collective population of over 1.8 billion as of 2015, with 49 being Muslim-majority countries.
  • This accounts for just under a quarter of the world’s population. The collective area is 31.66 m km2

OIC Members

  • There are 56 members in the OIC today. 56 of them are in the UN as well.
  • Pakistan is a founding member.
  • Palestine is also a member of the OIC (it is not a member of the UN).
  • Not all members are Muslim-majority ones although they have a significant Muslim population. (E.g. Countries in West Africa and South America).
  • Observer states:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Central African Republic
  • Northern Cyprus (Turkish Cypriot State)
  • Thailand
  • Russia
  • Observer International Organisations:
    • NAM
    • UN
    • League of Arab States
    • African Union
    • Economic Cooperation Organisation.

Objective of Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation

  • The main motive of the organisation is to the safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
  • The Organization was established upon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco 25 September 1969 as a result of criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.

Priority Areas

  • The priority areas include issues of Peace and Security, Palestine and Al-Quds, Poverty Alleviation, Counter-terrorism, Investment and Finance, Food Security, Science and Technology, Climate Change and Sustainability, Moderation, Culture and Interfaith Harmony, Empowerment of Women, Joint Islamic Humanitarian Action, Human Rights and Good Governance, among others. 

Bodies of OIC

  • Among the OIC’s key bodies: the Islamic Summit, the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), the General Secretariat, in addition to the Al-Quds Committee and three permanent committees concerned with science and technology, economy and trade, and information and culture.
  • There are also specialized organs under the banner of the OIC including the Islamic Development Bank and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, as well as subsidiary and affiliate organs that play a vital role in boosting cooperation in various fields among the OIC member states.

India and Islamic World

  • In the last few years, India has improved ties with the Islamic world from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia, while building on good relations with countries like Qatar and Oman.
  • While it was Bangladesh that floated the idea of India becoming an observer at the OIC in 2018, the UAE invite offered India an opportunity to address the forum.
  • The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ), was a very special Chief Guest at the 68th Republic Day celebrations in 2017, the first time that India laid out the Republic Day red carpet for a leader who was neither a Head of State nor Head of Government.
  • The Crown Prince MBZ had earlier visited India in February 2016, following a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the UAE in August 2015.
  • Recently, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman visited India.

OIC’s stance on Jammu and Kashmir

  • The OIC has been generally supportive of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir.
  • It has earlier even issued statements criticising the alleged Indian “atrocities” in the state.
  • The 2017 session of Council of OIC Foreign Ministers had adopted a resolution reaffirming the unwavering support for the Kashmiri people in their just cause.
  • Recently in December 2018 too, the OIC expressed strong condemnation of the killing of innocent Kashmiris by Indian forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
  • It called upon the international community to play its role in order to reach a just and lasting solution to the conflict in Kashmir.

India – OIC Relation

  • India’s relationship with Pakistan has always been tense and has a direct impact on India-OIC relations, with Pakistan being a founding member of the OIC. India has pushed for the OIC to accept India as a member, Pakistan opposes India’s entry into the OIC.
  • India was invited to attend the first summit of the OIC 50 years ago in 1969 in Morocco. But the Indian delegation had to return midway due to a withdrawal of the invitation after Pakistan’s objection.
  • In 2002, it was Qatar that first proposed observer status for India at the OIC foreign ministers’ meet but Pakistan had consistently blocked the move.
  • In 2018, Bangladesh along with Turkey proposed restructuring of the charter of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to pave way for the inclusion of non-Muslim countries like India as an ‘observer state’.
  • For the first time in five decades, the United Arab Emirates invited foreign minister of India Sushma Swaraj to attend the inaugural plenary 46th meeting of OIC foreign ministers. (Pakistan boycotted the meet)
  • From the mid-1990s, when this Contact Group was formed, it has issued several statements on behalf of Pakistan (on Kashmir issue)
  • The United Arab Emirates, for instance, conferred the “Order of Zayed”, its highest civilian award on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than a week after New Delhi’s moves on Article 370, and declared that Kashmir was India’s internal matter.

Challenges faced by India in OIC:

  • OIC’s stance on Jammu and Kashmir: It has been generally supportive of Pakistan’s concerns over Jammu and Kashmir. With regards to this, the OIC has been issuing statements criticizing alleged atrocities and human rights violations in the state.
  • Presence of Pakistan: Pakistan has always objected India’s entry into the group, stating that any country wishing to get observer status should not be involved in any dispute with an OIC member state.
  • Position on Israel: OIC condemns any arbitrary steps by Israel which undermine the international efforts to reach the two-states solution and achieve peace. Though traditionally, India has been a supporter of the two-State solution, its deepening relation with Israel can be a challenge.

Source: Indian Express

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