The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) pledged to cooperate with UNESCO in fighting intentional destruction and illegal trafficking of the cultural heritage in conflict zones. Addressing the 39th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris on 6 November, OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen applauded the UN body’s call to include protection of cultural heritage in the tasks of peacekeeping missions and other global programs.
Al-Othaimeen said combating terrorism and extremist ideology is at the top of his organisation’s agenda. In this regard, he said, the OIC has launched the “Voice of Wisdom” project, which seeks to spread the concepts of tolerance and moderation. The OIC, Al-Othaimeen added, seeks to raise awareness among the youth about the perils of joining the ranks of terrorist outfits. The OIC chief also condemned Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and its persistent attempts to alter the demographics of the occupied East Jerusalem.
He urged UNESCO to take necessary measures to ensure preservation of the historical and cultural heritage of the Palestinian state. The OIC chief also met the newly elected Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay on the sidelines of the conference. Heads of both the organisations reiterated their commitments to further strengthen cooperation to ensure to quality education and technology for sustainable development. Momentous Actions by The OIC to Preserve Islamic Cultural Heritage
Speaking at the UNESCO event, the director-general of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO), Abdul Aziz bin Othman Al-Twaijri, said proper education is crucial to lasting peace. Therefore, he said, UNESCO has huge responsibility on its shoulders, especially in the current global scenario marked by political tensions, economic crises and armed conflicts. “As a result, millions of children are deprived of their right to pursue a decent education in a normal atmosphere of security and stability,” Al-Twajiri said.
The ISESCO chief said education is a must for economic and political development. He deplored the state of education in the developing word. “Today, the number of refugees in the world exceeds 50 million, 25 per cent of whom are children…While ISESCO is monitoring this situation and making constant efforts to ensure access to education for refugee children … international cooperation in this important area is still a very pressing need,” Al-Twaijri said. He expressed hope that UNESCO will play its due role in this regard.
The ISESCO director-general said the world should take necessary steps to save the present and future generations from the dangers of ignorance, extremism and terrorism. “A real mobilization is required to ensure security and peace and equal education opportunities for all,” he said. Later in November, from 21–23, the OIC Member Countries are invited to develop cultural policies and plans on cultural heritage protection for adoption at the 10th Conference of Ministers of Culture to be the ISESCO in Khartoum, Sudan.
A few days before the UNESCO event, the international conference on “Islamic Action for the Protection of Cultural Heritage” was held in Istanbul, Turkey. During the conference, the OIC also called for adapting these ways through international initiatives and mechanisms for cultural heritage preservation as a whole, and to save and restore endangered heritage in Islamic countries. The secretary general’s speech stressed that the OIC has committed itself to being a stronghold and protector Islamic cultural heritage and identity and accord the highest priority to the protection of cultural heritage in holy places.
The Secretary General has also stressed that the General Secretariat of the organisation is in the process of implementing string of measures with the aim of consolidating the intra-OIC Member States’ cooperation in the fields of trade, investment and tourism towards the achievement of the 25 per cent mark in intra-Islamic trade by the year 2025 as adopted by the Tenth Islamic Summit Conference held in Istanbul in April 2016. Secretary General: Determined To Achieve 25 % Intra-OIC Trade by 2025
The Secretary General stated this in the speech he delivered at a workshop on “Trade Facilitation: Identifying non-Tariff Trade Barriers among OIC Member States”, organised by the Islamic Centre for the Development of Trade, a subsidiary organ of the OIC in Rabat – Kingdom of Morocco, and the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC). It was held from 24-25 October 2017 with the objective of identifying and analysing Non-Tariff Barriers to trade and their impact on trade in the OIC Member States and to discuss on operationalisation mechanism of the relevant provisions of the TPS/OIC Agreement.
“It is indeed a matter of gratification for me to attend this important gathering being convened in the city of Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco. I feel duty-bound here to start by extending my heartfelt thanks to H.M. King Mohammed VI, Sovereign of the Kingdom of Morocco as well as to the Kingdom’s Government and people for their sustained support to the Islamic Centre for the Development of Trade and for the superlative arrangements they have made to ensure the success of this very important event,” said Al-Othaimeen.
The Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT) is the subsidiary organ of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which has been entrusted with trade promotion and investment among the OIC Member States.
The Secretary General also noted that the workshop would contribute towards ensuring better-coordinated stands among the OIC Member States in the face of the escalating use of non-tariff barriers on the part of the industrial countries. Such coordination aims to curb this phenomenon and facilitate the access of the OIC Member States’ exports to the countries concerned.
Madam Rukaya Al Derham, the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Industry, Investment, Trade and e-Economy in charge of External Trade in the Kingdom of Morocco, also delivered a statement during the opening ceremony of the workshop.
Participants at the workshop include representatives from 30 Members States, organs and institutions of the OIC and delegates from other multinational institutions. During the workshop, a number of the OIC Countries namely Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates made presentations on their national experiences in the field.
The workshop was moderated by experts from the Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT), the Coordination Office of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA