In an interesting development, the Organization of Islamic
Cooperation (OIC) has decided to establish a human rights panel of
its own to safeguard basic freedoms for Muslims, a media report
“We have been acting swiftly through an open and credible process
in taking concrete steps toward establishing the Independent
Permanent Commission on Human Rights (IPCHR)", Arab News
quoted OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu as saying at
ASTANA in Kazakhstan.
He described the creation of the
Independent Permanent Commission on Human Rights (IPCHR) as a
seminal event in the organization’s history.
“The new commission will be totally
independent. The 18 human rights experts from 18 different Arab,
Asian and African member states will decide their own agenda", he
said adding that the new commission will cooperate with the United
Nations human rights body.
“Since the OIC has three major
geographical groups, namely African, Asian and Arab, each region
will have six members on the commission. Each region has selected
its six members, and the commission has now become a reality,” he
Ihsanoglu reiterated that promotion and protection of human rights
including the rights of women, children, youth, the elderly and
people with special needs, as well as the preservation of Islamic
family values, have been enshrined in the OIC Charter.
“It requires the member states to
uphold and promote good governance, democracy, human rights and
fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, at both the national and
the international levels,” he said.
The concept behind the IPCHR was approved in principle last year
during the OIC meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, but Saudi Arabia
and Iran could not agree on where the panel would be
headquartered. This year that barrier came down, and Jeddah was
selected as its base of operations.
“This is the first time that such an
exercise is being carried out in the Muslim world. It will be 100
times better to hear what is happening in our countries from our
own people rather than from the outside world,” said one delegate.
“Of course, we are not in the habit of hearing any criticism from
fellow member states, but eventually we will learn to set our
houses in order to avoid attracting criticism.”