Cairo, Egypt

07 February 2013

Secretary-General's message to 12th session of the Islamic Summit Conference

I am honoured to convey my greetings to all those taking part in the 12th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference. I thank Egypt for hosting this important event, and appreciate Senegal for chairing the previous Session five years ago.

This summit is taking place at a critical moment.  Over the last two years, historic developments in the Arab world have brought new leaders to power and spearheaded democratic transitions. The United Nations is working to support this people-powered change.   I am encouraged that cooperation between our two Organizations has significantly increased in the socioeconomic and political fields, particularly in the area of conflict prevention and resolution.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation and United Nations have an important responsibility to address people’s aspirations, particularly by promoting democratization, good governance, the rule of law, and human rights, as well as socioeconomic progress.  To that end, empowering youth and women is crucial. They have been at the forefront of the recent changes and must be given the opportunity to realize their full potential. The United Nations stands ready to work closely with you on all fronts.

The ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis in Syria and Mali are of particular concern. As the Syrian conflict continues and gains deeply worrying sectarian undertones – it is our collective responsibility to remind all warring parties of their obligations under human rights and international humanitarian law. I count on all Member States with influence to urge Syrian authorities and opposition groups to avoid any further militarization and engage in a political process. 

The United Nations recognizes the seriousness of the situation in Mali and the threat posed by anti-government armed groups to international peace and security. The implementation of all aspects of Security Council resolution 2085 is critical for the restoration of Mali’s constitutional order and territorial integrity and the stability of the sub-region.

We must also work to advance the Middle East peace process. The expansion of Israeli settlements, the financial difficulties of the Palestinians and the continued division of the West Bank and Gaza are serious concerns. The status quo is unsustainable. Negotiations are the only way to end the occupation and achieve the two-state solution.

I wish to thank the OIC and its members for their contribution to addressing some long-standing issues. In Afghanistan, we continue to work on peace and reconciliation efforts against the backdrop of the planned withdrawal of international forces by 2014. On Sudan and South Sudan, I commend the governments of both countries for taking positive steps to resolve outstanding post-secession issues. Implementation of the agreements is now of paramount importance. I also urge Sudan to allow humanitarian assistance in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States. In Somalia, the OIC played an integral role in supporting Somalis to end the eight-year transition. In Iraq, the OIC can foster positive interactions among communities and countries in the region, as it did with the Mecca Declaration in 2006.

In Rakhine, Myanmar, the most urgent need is to provide much needed relief and confidence to all the people who have been traumatized and displaced by the violence of the past months. The Government of Myanmar’s forward-looking and progressive approach has brought about a historic transformation in the country.  I urge authorities to draw on that spirit to respond to the problems of inter-communal harmony and minority rights.

We must continue to work together to combat the menace of terrorism, which we have sadly witnessed from the Sahel and North Africa to the Middle East and South Asia. We must step up the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and intensify our efforts to build the institutional capacities of States to effectively deal with terrorism.

I share your concerns with rising intolerance and discrimination such as Islamophobia. Unfortunately, we have witnessed a rapid escalation of incidents, many of a brutal nature, involving people and communities from all religions.  Later this month, leaders will gather in Vienna for the Fifth Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations aimed at countering hatred and uniting people of different faiths and cultures. 

Finally, I welcome OIC members’ commitment to sustainable development, as expressed during the Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Djibouti last November. To deal with challenges on the social, economic and environmental fronts, and the impacts of climate change, we must take an integrated approach. I encourage all of you to contribute your energy and ideas as we work to accelerate efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals and forge the post-2015 development agenda.  Let us pledge together to do our utmost to achieve a sustainable future – and build the world we want.

I wish this meeting all success.