Celebrating 50 years of OIC.


Byline: Arhama Siddiqa

Nearly 60 percent of the world conflicts are in Muslims countries, whether through direct confrontation or as a playground for proxy warfare. Examples range from Syria, Yemen and Iraq in the Middle East to Nigeria and Somalia in Africa to Kashmir in South Asia. Recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan declined to attend the Kuala Lumpur summit- the agenda of which is to set up a parallel platform to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to listen and act upon solving Muslim grievances. This brings into question the practicability of the OIC, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this year.

Following decades of deliberation by Muslim scholars and statesmen, the OIC was founded by a charter in 1969. Now comprising of fifty-seven nations spread over four continents, the fifty-year-old organisation is the second largest international body after the UN, and is aimed at protecting Muslim interests worldwide.

In the current setting of today's world, states have sought international forums through which they can defend and protect their interests. In doing so, they have paved the way for the emergence of multinational organizations of a regional nature having different goals and whose geographic, political and economic diversity speaks for themselves. However, none has managed to bring together all the Islamic States of the world. The only one that has taken Islam as the cohering element, regardless of any geographic and cultural characteristics, is the OIC.

In the half century of its existence, the organisation has connected with international apparatuses (including every specialized UN agency), governments, and civil society organizations (CSOs) to address issues of concern to Muslims worldwide. The OIC's activities and assistance now include long-term development projects as well, including health, education, and agriculture. The OIC's existence is based on the idea that there is a commonality among its members that is stronger than any difference: Islam.

The OIC has long played an important role in mediation and conflict resolution, in particular taking action in countries that are members of the OIC or intervening when a Muslim community is part of a conflict. The OIC's promise in the field of conflict mediation in the Muslim world stems largely from its 'cultural competence' and religious character. This proved an advantage in Somalia, where assistance from an Islamic organisation was more acceptable to the Shabab...

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