Let me begin by recognizing Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
I thank him for his many years of leadership and service. I congratulate his successor, the incoming OIC Secretary-General Dr. Iyad Madani, who also joins us today.
Last year, I was honoured to be the first United Nations Secretary-General to visit the headquarters of the OIC. I look forward to building on our partnership in the years to come.
Mr. President, I really appreciate your taking the time to preside over this very important meeting, and I count on your leadership and commitment for peace and security as President of the Security Council.
The challenges of peace and security are too complex and interlinked for any country or organization to address alone. To be successful, we must join forces and craft joint strategies that draw on respective strengths.
The United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are working closely on issues ranging from conflict prevention and resolution to counter-terrorism … from human rights and humanitarian affairs to intercultural dialogue and sustainable development.
Allow me to touch on a number of specific issues where our work continues to be critical.
On Syria, our ongoing cooperation includes humanitarian and political efforts.
The United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are making progress in dismantling and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons programme.
But we must also spare no effort to reach a comprehensive political agreement – one that reflects the will of the Syrian people.
The war has also heightened tensions between Sunni and Shia communities. We have seen tragic and violent manifestations of these divisions in many parts of the Muslim world. This is profoundly worrying.
I believe the OIC could be uniquely placed to launch a major initiative working with the United Nations and others to help bring an end to this upheaval that has caused the loss of so many civilian lives and represents such a threat to wider security.
I urge the OIC and all leaders to do everything possible to repair rifts and rebuild confidence between Muslim communities as well as to stem the influence of radical armed groups and violent extremists.
On the Middle East Peace Process, direct talks have resumed but Israelis and Palestinians must quickly see visible peace dividends.
The status quo in the occupied Palestinian territory is not sustainable, and in the long run, the occupation is deeply damaging to Israelis and Palestinians alike. The OIC can help forge a way forward within the agreed timeframe.
As Myanmar continues on the path of reform, a key challenge will be to address the underlying factors of communal tensions, including the question of citizenship for the Rohingya population.
Myanmar must act firmly against the dissemination of hate literature. Instigators must be punished. I urge the Government and other key opinion leaders to address these fundamental issues.
I am pleased that an OIC delegation will soon visit Myanmar and welcome its constructive engagement to reduce tensions.
In Afghanistan, efforts to enhance regional cooperation and build trust are crucial at this time of transition. I appreciate the efforts of the OIC -- including through its presence in Kabul and its support for an Afghan-led reconciliation process.
In Mali, following the milestone presidential election, the United Nations, the OIC and other partners should work together to help Mali promote dialogue and reconciliation, improve governance, undertake security sector reform, re-establish State authority in the north, and protect human rights.
On Sudan, I commend the OIC’s continued efforts, especially those facilitated by the State of Qatar, to bring peace to Darfur. I count on the ongoing cooperation with the OIC to encourage the Government of Sudan to reach out to all stakeholders.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We must also continue to work for progress on issues that extend beyond regional boundaries.
Terrorism is not associated with any particular religion, culture or peoples. However, in recent years, terrorist violence has disproportionately affected countries that are members of OIC, from the Sahel and North Africa to the Middle East and South Asia.
The OIC and its Member States have been making significant efforts to mitigate the terrorist threat, particularly in countering incitement to commit terrorist acts motivated by extremism and intolerance.
I stress the importance of addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of extremism and terrorism, including by strengthening efforts to peacefully resolve conflict, promote the rule of law, protect human rights and ensure good governance.
Intercultural dialogue between and within faiths is more important than ever.
Let us keep working together to foster a culture of peace and co-existence – through efforts such as the UN Alliance of Civilizations.
Looking ahead, the United Nations and the OIC must continue to deepen our strategic dialogue. We have made significant progress including through formal partnership agreements and joint workplans, staff exchanges and joint mediation deployments. We were also proud to assist the OIC in establishing its new Peace, Security and Mediation Unit.
Let us together pledge to work from this foundation of progress to build a better world for all.