1 May 2012

Message to United Nations-Organization of Islamic Cooperation General Meeting

Delivered by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev,

Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva


I am pleased to greet the United Nations-Organization of Islamic Cooperation General Meeting.

Since our last such session in Istanbul in 2010, cooperation between our two organizations has continued to deepen.  I welcome the establishment of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission as a principal organ of the OIC, and the assistance provided by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  

I welcome, too, the progress made by the OIC and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs since the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement last November.  The joint initiatives that we have carried out in Syria, Somalia and the Philippines offer models and lessons for other engagements, and I look forward to other operational partnerships that address humanitarian challenges and crises across the world, such as our joint efforts to assist those affected by floods in Pakistan.

I am pleased that the one-year mediation partnership between the Department of Political Affairs and the OIC is proceeding well.  I look forward to closer cooperation with the OIC in preventing and solving conflicts.

I am also grateful to OIC members for the important role the organization played in resolving the deadlock on defamation of religion last year in the Human Rights Council.  The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations continues to combat stereotypes and ignorance about religions, notably Islam. 

In the light of the momentous events in the Middle East and North Africa, it is vital for the UN and OIC to develop creative means of mutual cooperation to promote democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law, which are central to meeting the people’s legitimate aspirations, particularly those of the region’s youth.

In Syria, the situation remains highly precarious.  Unity among the international community is critical for the success of our efforts to find a peaceful solution.  The establishment of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria is a welcome development.  I greatly value the support of the OIC, which has been working closely with the UN on humanitarian assistance. 

The dangerous impasse in the Middle East peace process also remains a major concern.  I have appealed to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to embrace the regional changes and show courage and vision to reach a historic agreement.  The two-state solution is long overdue.  Together, we must create the conditions for meaningful negotiations that will resolve the core issues and end the occupation that started in 1967.

Continued fighting along the border between Sudan and South Sudan remains a serious cause of concern.  I urge both sides to exercise maximum restraint, return to the negotiation table and resolve their differences peacefully.

In Somalia, the transition is due to end in August.  At this critical time, the
United Nations continues to support Somali stakeholders to conclude key tasks under the Roadmap.  OIC countries were active in the Istanbul I conference, including through the Islamic Development Bank and the private sector, and I encourage similar engagement and concrete pledges next month at Istanbul II.

In Afghanistan, I strongly encourage the OIC cooperation with UNAMA in support of reconciliation initiatives.  

And in Libya, the United Nations continues to provide assistance.  The conflict there has had serious implications for Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, and our organizations must mobilize wider support and resources to address the many challenges facing the Sahel region.

As is evident from this tour d’horizon, cooperation between the UN and the OIC has never been more relevant or necessary.  I look forward to even closer ties in the period ahead, and I wish you a successful meeting.