On behalf of the Secretary-General, I am pleased to send greetings to this meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation. The Secretary-General and I pay tribute to outgoing Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and look forward to working closely with his successor, Mr. Iyad Madani of Saudi Arabia.
I will now deliver the Secretary-General’s remarks.
I applaud the OIC’s engagement on sustainable development. I count on you to help us reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and shape a vision for a common agenda beyond that date.
I share the OIC’s concerns about surges of violence across sectarian and identity lines. Our two organizations must join forces to respond by promoting tolerance in partnership with leaders from civil society, academics and religious figures. The media can also play an important role. I count on the OIC to use the satellite channel it plans to launch to promote greater cross-cultural understanding.
At the same time, I count on the OIC to help address the tumults that the Arab countries face in this delicate time of transition from authoritarian regimes to new democracies.
I count particularly on the OIC support to women and youth, who have shown an enormous ability to spark transformative change. Women and young people everywhere deserve equal opportunities to realize their potential and to contribute to our shared future.
Let me review a number of key situations that concern us all.
The fighting in Syria has killed more than 100,000 people. Last month’s chemical weapons attack shocked the global conscience. The international community must bring the perpetrators to justice – and ensure that Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles are eliminated.
But it is not enough to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons while the wider war is still destroying Syria. We must not forget that the vast majority of the atrocities have been committed with conventional weapons. I appeal to all States to end the arms flows to all the parties. I look forward to the adoption of a Security Council resolution on chemical weapons.
The conflict in Syria is creating fertile ground for radical armed groups and the proliferation of violent extremist ideology. Foreign fighters are undermining Syria and threatening the region. The OIC can help address these sectarian tensions and stem the spread of extremism.
The United Nations is doing everything possible to convene a Geneva II conference to produce a comprehensive political agreement that reflects the will of the Syrian people.
We must not lose our focus on the long-overdue goal of an independent, viable and democratic State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel. The resumption of direct talks is a most welcome development. The parties must now translate the hope arising from their renewed efforts into action.
The United Nations and the Quartet are committed to supporting the parties achieve a negotiated two-State solution. The OIC can help foster trust and understanding to forge a way forward within the agreed timeframe.
I remain deeply troubled by Israel’s continuing illegal settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel must abide by its commitments to freeze all settlement activity.
I also repeat my call for the complete opening of all crossings into Gaza. At the same time, Israel’s legitimate security concerns must be addressed.
In Asia, I am deeply concerned about the upsurge of communal violence in Myanmar. I have urged Myanmar’s top leaders to make a united call to their people to end the violence and incitement, respect the law and promote peace. The Government has taken some positive steps to establish order, prevent fresh outbreaks, punish the perpetrators and address humanitarian needs. I call on the Government to also intensify its efforts to resolve underlying problems, including the status and citizenship of the Rohingya community in Rakhine state. I am encouraged that the Myanmar authorities have reached out to the OIC. The international community must support an inclusive and equitable reform process in Myanmar.
Afghanistan also needs international support as it faces a crucial transition next year. Efforts to enhance regional cooperation and build trust are key to the future stability of the country and its neighbours. I appreciate the OIC’s ongoing contributions in Afghanistan and the region.
In Africa, I am concerned that one year after the formation of the Federal Government of Somalia, the gains are still reversible. The international community, including the OIC, must provide substantial assistance to Somalia.
The Sahel region has suffered from cyclical instability and unconstitutional changes of government. Only a truly comprehensive approach can tackle the structural causes of instability and fragility.
In Mali, the presidential election was a key milestone in the re-establishment of constitutional order. Now the authorities must address the root causes of the crisis. The United Nations, the OIC and other partners should work together to help Mali promote dialogue and reconciliation, improve governance, achieve security sector reform, re-establish State authority in the north, and protect human rights.
The United Nations remains committed to supporting Sudan. We must continue to urge the Government and the armed movements to cease hostilities in Darfur and peacefully resolve all outstanding issues.
I am encouraged by the efforts of Sudan and South Sudan to resume the implementation of agreements adopted one year ago. I hope the two countries will advance towards the resolution of all post-secession issues.
Cooperation between our two organizations is stronger than ever.
The United Nations continues to help the OIC build its conflict prevention and resolution capacity, including by assisting its new Peace, Security and Mediation Unit. We were pleased to assist in the establishment of the OIC Permanent Independent Human Rights Commission. I hope it will become an independent body with a broad mandate, upholding universal human rights standards.
The OIC is a key strategic humanitarian partner for the United Nations. We are improving our information sharing, strategic dialogue and engagement on the ground.
I look forward to strengthening our productive partnership for the sake of the more than one billion people living in OIC countries.