OIC Role in Jammu-Kashmir, Nagorno-Karabakh, Palestine, Rohingya Crises  

By Seymur Mammadov

Seymour Mammadov is the Director of the International Expert Club «EurAsiaAz» which deals with strategic issues of the Eurasian Region.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the largest and most influential official government Muslim international organization.

Currently, the organization unites 57 countries with a population of about 1.5 billion people. To date, the main agenda of the OIC in such a tense, coronavirus period remains the situation in those Muslim countries that suffer from wars, conflicts, natural disasters, and where people are faced with a humanitarian catastrophe. OIC is so active in this direction that it is developing its effective activities even in the context of the current coronavirus pandemic.

It would seem that in the world everything froze, for a while the activity of not only many sectors of the world economy, but even authoritative international organizations, was frozen. But not the OIC. Against the backdrop of the spread of Covid-19, the OIC is actively working with member countries of the organization, organizes online conferences, and continues to contribute to the strengthening of Islamic solidarity.

Kashmir Issue

One of the vivid confirmations of the above is the important fact that against the backdrop of the tense situation in Kashmir on June 22, the Contact Group of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Jammu and Kashmir held a meeting in the form of a video conference. The conference was attended by the foreign ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Niger Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Turkey.

According to the statement, Secretary-General Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen inaugurated the meeting and stressed the OIC’s commitment to finding a peaceful settlement for the Jammu and Kashmir issue as per the relevant resolutions of the Islamic Summit, the Council of Foreign Ministers, and the international legitimacy.

In turn, during his speech at a video conference of the Contact Group of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Jammu and Kashmir, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said:

«Azerbaijan, as a responsible member of the international community, supports the peaceful resolution of Jammu and Kashmir issue in accordance with the norms and principles of international law and the relevant UNSC resolutions, as well as with full respect to the international humanitarian law.

I would like to underline that under challenging conditions of COVID-19 pandemic the international community should be particularly keen to withstand any efforts by those who aim to utilize current state of world affairs for further consolidation of the results of aggression and occupation. In this regard unity and joint action of the OIC is of utmost importance in strengthening our solidarity thus increasing our cumulative strength in both mitigating the serious damages being incurred by the pandemic and protecting international peace and security».

A speech by the head of the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan indicates that Azerbaijan does not remain indifferent to the fate of Muslims, wherever they are. Azerbaijan is one of the members of the Islamic world, has always extended and will continue to extend a helping hand to all Muslim peoples, on whose lot suffering falls.

In this regard, it should be said that such a broad charitable and peacekeeping mission of the Azerbaijani state is based on its own bitter experience. The people still did not heal the wounds inflicted by genocide in the city of Khojaly, where 613 people were brutally killed during the Karabakh war.

The Contact Group members expressed their support for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and agreed that India should start a dialogue to eliminate tensions in Kashmir. The contact group urged India to respect fundamental human rights, refrain from changing the demographic structure of the disputed territory, and resolve the conflict within the framework of relevant UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir.

The OIC is concerned that the part population of the Kashmir-controlled by India is being harassed and abused and is unable to exercise its basic rights. India should understand that the OIC will never remove the Kashmir issue from the agenda. Time has shown that Muslims are united and the Muslim community of the world will not accept what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir.

Today, Muslim countries represent a great driving force, a single fist, support each other in almost all matters, and this is the great merit of the OIC. If not for this organization, Muslim countries would have to face even greater challenges than current ones. Thanks to the OIC, Muslim countries today come out from a united front against enemies, which helps strengthen Islamic solidarity among member countries.

Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

On the other hand, it would be unfair not to note the role of the OIC in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the organization’s attention to the territorial conflicts of Muslim countries is constantly felt. It is enough to recall the OIC statement condemning the holding of the so-called “elections” on March 31, 2020, in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, since the actions of the Armenian authorities contradicted the relevant UN Security Council resolutions on the conflict.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been repeatedly discussed in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Guided by the norms and principles of international law, the OIC declared Azerbaijan a victim of military expansion. The resolution adopted in 1993 at the 21st meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the OIC member countries in Karachi, condemned the Armenian occupation of the Azerbaijani territories, demanding the immediate withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

The resolution demanded that Armenia respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and called for a just, peaceful settlement of the conflict, based on the principles of territorial integrity and inviolability of borders. OIC constantly called on the UN Security Council to actively participate in a political settlement of the Karabakh conflict on the basis of four resolutions.

In addition, the OIC showed its solidarity, supported Azerbaijan during the April 2016 war. In the same year, within the framework of the OIC summit in Istanbul, a “Contact Group in connection with the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan” was created. It included 7 countries – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Morocco, Djibouti, and the Gambia. To this day, Azerbaijan feels the attention and support of the OIC in the Karabakh issue, which cannot be said about other international organizations – the UN and the OSCE.

Palestine Issue

OIC has a historic role regarding Palestine’s issue and has recently rejected unilateral action by Israel to annex Palestine.

On May 21, 2020, the General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called on the international community, notably the UN General Assembly and Security Council, to take practical and urgent measures to prevent Israel’s colonial annexation of yet more Palestinian land. It went on to stress that a just, durable and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue, in such manner as to bring security and peace in the Middle East region, can only be achieved through the Arab Peace Initiative, which is based on the two-state solution to the conflict and in favor of establishing the independent State of Palestine with eastern Al-Quds as its capital, and by complying with internationally binding resolutions.

Rohingya Muslims Issue

It is also important to note that the role of the OIC in supporting the Muslim community of Rohingya in Myanmar, which is constantly harassed by the Myanmar authorities. Myanmar authorities are accused of widespread human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, gang rape, arson, and infanticide. The military suppression of the Rohingya in 2016-2017 caused criticism from the US Department of State, the governments of Bangladesh, and Malaysia.

An estimated 92,000 Rohingya were relocated due to acts of violence by January 2017, about 65,000 fled from Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh between October 2016 and January 2017, while another 23,000 became internally displaced. The OIC, of ​​course, could not remain indifferent to violence against the Rohingya. In September 2017, the states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation called on the Government of Myanmar to accept the monitoring mission of the UN Human Rights Council.

This was noted in the report of the OIC chairman following the meeting of the heads of state and government on the issue of the Muslim community of Rohingya in Myanmar. OIC member countries insisted on a thorough and independent investigation of all established facts of violation of international human rights law and holding those responsible accountable. OIC countries also requested the Government of Myanmar to comply with obligations under international law and conventions for the protection of human rights, as well as take all measures to immediately end the persecution and discrimination against Muslims of Rohingya.

In case of any problems, conflicts, humanitarian disasters in the regions and countries inhabited by Muslims, the OIC is ready to provide all necessary assistance. Membership in an organization requires responsibility from all Muslim countries. The main appeal and slogan of the OIC should be “Unity of all Muslims”, their solidarity in the framework of the realization that they are all representatives of the same Ummah. Muslims should support each other, protect each other’s life and property. The activities of organizations like the OIC are designed to guarantee and ensure such relations between Muslims and help develop a common platform for all Muslim countries.

The activities of the OIC once again eloquently indicate that this organization carries out effective and efficient activities aimed at the benefit of all Muslims.