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HE the OIC Secretary General’s Message to the Washington Meeting on the Istanbul Process - 2011-12-14

(December 12-14, 2011)

It is with great pleasure that I send this message to the expert level meeting in Washington that forms part of the Istanbul process. This process is geared towards consensual implementation of HRC Resolution 16/18 on combating intolerance , incitement to violence and violence based on religion or belief. The importance of the consensual adoption of this Resolution cannot be over emphasized. Neither can it be discounted as a triumph of multilateralism.

It was during my address to the 15th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva that I outlined a new approach towards evolving a consensus against incitement to violence and intolerance on religious ground that could endanger peaceful coexistence. I am glad that the eight points in the proposed approach found resonance with all the negotiating partners. These points formed the basis of the consensus reflected in HRC resolution 16/18.

Let me say that it reaffirmed OIC’s credibility as well as demonstrated ability to seek, promote and build consensus on even the most sensitive of issues in contemporary international relations. It clearly demonstrated that, as a mature International Organization, OIC was not wedded to either a particular title or the content of a resolution.  We just wanted to ensure that the actual matter of vital concern and interest to OIC Member states was addressed. I commend all those who contributed to this process of consensus building. I particularly appreciate the kind personal interest of Secretary Clinton and the role played by the US towards the consensual adoption of the resolution.

The test would, however, lie in implementation. Having been successful at consensus building we must now act in concert to build on the consensus. The adoption of the Resolution does not mark the end of the road. It rather signifies a beginning based on a new approach to deal with the whole set of interrelated issues. The success of the alternative approach contained in the resolution 16/18 will be judged by addressing vital concerns of all parties in a time bound framework.

As mentioned in the Resolution, steps to end double standards and racial or religious profiling need to be taken. Such acts must not be condoned by states but duly addressed through structured and sustained engagement. We also need to squarely address and develop a common understanding on some of the grey areas. It includes the exact nature and scope of the complementarities between the freedom of opinion and expression and the prohibition of incitement to hatred on racial, national and religious grounds as stipulated in articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Let me be clear. In a world faced with the menace of terrorism, the implications of not evolving are normative framework to discourage respond to hate speech and other forms of incitement to hatred, discrimination, and violence, cannot and must not be ignored. The Resolution 16/18 provides with a good basis for concerted action by states, at both the national and the international levels. It must be utilized accordingly. We would, otherwise, be faced with the unaffordable risk of the agenda hijacked and set by radicals and non-state actors.

I am confident that the Washington meeting will contribute towards furthering a result oriented engagement that forms the essence of the Istanbul process.

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