Earlier this year, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation met in Istanbul, Turkey, for the 13th Islamic Summit Conference, dedicated to "Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace." It was a major event in the Muslim world, convened by one of the planet's most storied international organizations.
But what exactly is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC? Trace Dominguez reports in today's Seeker Daily dispatch.
With 57 member states, the OIC is actually the second largest intergovernmental organization in the world, after the United Nations. Of the 57 nations in the OIC, 49 have Muslim majorities. Member nations in the OIC also have ties to other international groups, including the Arab League and the United Nations itself. This web of affiliations makes the OIC an influential player in world politics, and the group claims to be the collective voice of the Muslim world.
The group was founded in 1969 as the Organization of the Islamic Conference, after Israel defeated several Arab states in the Six-Day War. The goal was to encourage Muslim solidarity, protect Islamic holy sites, help Palestinian causes, end racial discrimination, and improve economic cooperation among member countries.
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The OIC has supported these causes ever since, although the group has drawn criticism from human rights organizations in recent years. We have to go back a bit in history to get the context on that: In 1948, the United Nations issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which called on all member nations to support and protect fundamental human rights.
But 42 years later, in 1990, the OIC issued the opposing Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, an extremely controversial document which derives its authority from the Quran and Sharia law. As such, the Cairo Declaration does not support freedom of religion, and grants different rights to men and women. For example, the rights of marriage and free movement are only granted to men; women must submit to the authority of their husbands or fathers.
The Cairo declaration -- with its religious exceptions to basic human rights -- resulted in the OIC losing a good deal of credibility. The group remains active as a forum for Muslim nations, but its officially stated views on human rights have severely handicapped its status as a legitimate international organization.
-- Glenn McDonald
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation: About
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Forum for Democratic Global Governance: The Organization of Islamic Conference
Global Governance Watch: OIC Watch