OIC’s resurgence — challenges, strategies | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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OIC’s resurgence — challenges, strategies

THE 48th session of the OIC‘s FMs moot held in Islamabad (22-23 March) has been a glaring reflection on Ummah’s collective resolve to tackle the impending challenges confronting the Muslim world vis-à-vis unity, justice and development.

Truly, today, the OIC needs a resurgence in order to counter the emerging economic, geopolitical and legal challenges that the Muslim word faces today.

Factually put, the Arab League (a body of the 22 Arab States) founded in 1945 became the ideological harbinger of the foundation of the OIC in 1969 in Rabat.

Undeniably, being the second-largest inter-governmental multilateral system after the United Nations (UN), whose members largely occupy the most fascinating part of the globe (that of its geographic and spiritual centre, as well as the sways of rich energy deposits), the OIC— a bloc of 57 member Islamic states— owes a special exposure and hence a distinctive role.

The OIC has nine of its member states—as the OPEC members as well—four of those are the OPEC’s founding members.

The Vienna International Centre (UNOV) hosts OPEC as well as its developmental branch, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).

As per the OIC Charter, the OIC must be committed to preserving Islamic social and economic values promoting solidarity among member States; increasing cooperation in social, economic, cultural and political areas; enhancing and consolidating the bonds of fraternity; cementing inter-state relations based on justice, mutual respect and good neighbourliness to ensure global peace, security and harmony; and reaffirming support for the rights of peoples as stipulated in the UN Charter and international law; and, above all, supporting and empowering the Palestinian and the Kashmiri people to exercise their right of self-determination.

Although the OIC ushered in a new ideological resurgence via OIC Summit in 1974 In Lahore (Pakistan), the West played a very divisive role in hammering its unity by promoting geopolitical rifts in the Organisation, which ultimately waned the writ of justice and international law.

Thus, over the past 52 years, the OIC has been facing the challenge of unity in its ranks and files.

Needless to say, during the Cold War era, most of the OIC members were aligned with the Western Bloc.

Until today, the Middle East, MENA regions have been the hotbeds of the ideological confrontations— promoted by the forces of western realpolitik.

That said, optimists argue that a new wave of resurgence is being shrined in the 48th FMs Session.

Hissein Brahim Taha, the OIC’s Secretary-General, addressed the meeting to review the important activities, projects and programs of the General Secretariat, in addition to the OIC’s post-CFM plans.

Currently, the OIC’s moral is ejected with the passing of the UNGA resolution on Islamophobia.

On 15 March, Pakistan’s Permanent envoy to the UN Munir Akram presented a resolution in the UN General Assembly — calling for designating March 15 a special day to globally combat Islmophobia.

The current session must highlight the cooperation issues with international partners, the United Nations, the Russian Federation, and the European Union.

Hopefully, the OIC will also hold a meeting of the Open-ended Contact Group on Muslims in Europe.

In this regard, the OIC Vienna Centre is playing a dynamic role in combating the rise of Islamophobia in Europe. Pragmatically reviewed, the OIC, continuously needs a policy direction.

Since aligning with a new fit for purpose reoriented in its Charter in 2008, the OIC has fervently shown its interests ‘’in key areas of international law, including humanitarian law, peace-making, human rights, international terrorism, and, more recently, environmental protection and climate change’’.

Moreover, the OIC is also heavily involved in environmental issues, such as water implementation.

According to the Stockholm International Water Institute, around two-thirds of the world’s transboundary rivers do not have a cooperative management framework.

The OIC Science-Technology-Innovation (STI) Agenda 2026 has also called on the member states to first define water resource quality and demand by planning national water budgets at the local level where appropriate.

The OIC – 2025, is a landmark document containing strategic goals for the next decade. And yet, in terms of development, by using’’ the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis approach to present profiles of the group of OIC countries in terms of major strengths and weaknesses they have, and major opportunities and threats they face in various areas…The OIC Member Countries better informed of their collective potentials and needs and, thus, facilitate their elaboration on cooperation projects and integration schemes’’.

The “Socio-economic Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic in OIC Member Countries: Pathways for Sustainable and Resilient Recovery” is the updated edition of the statistical, economic and social Research centre for Islamic countries (SESRIC).

And yet, with the changing global order— which is likely to be dominated by the East(China-Russia alignment versus the West)— the OIC is confronted with a big strategic challenge to reset its geopolitical, geo-economic and geo strategic priorities, currently doubled down with the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Broadly speaking, the OIC has to fight on three major fronts:1) economically to prevent the western clout of neo-liberalism; 2)geopolitically, to counter the western narrative of realpolitik, which is undermining the writ of international law;3) and ideologically, to prevent the sectarian divide between the Islamic states, and to combat against the rogue /terrorists elements.

Today, the OIC member states have grave responsibilities to charter a unified strategy to have a collective voice of revitalizing the spirit of international law vis-à-vis the long awaited resolutions of the Kashmir and Palestine conflicts in accordance with the UN’s endorsed principle of self- determination.

Yet in the major interest of world peace and security, the OIC must also advance its peace diplomacy to end war in Ukraine.

The OIC member states can take part in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Role of Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) is very important.

The OIC must focus on ways to address the unprecedented level of humanitarian needs in Afghanistan.

An economically and politically stable Afghanistan is core to the future of regional peace and security.

By no means, the OIC should miss an opportunity to become a powerful voice ‘to save the Muslim world future’ by endorsing its influence on the challenging and the brewing international order.

In his key address, Prime Minister Imran Khan rightly empahsised the challenges— confronting the Muslim world—accompanied by the strategic need to counter them.

Ostensibly, being the founding member of the OIC, Pakistan has been proactively engaged in extending the OIC’s credo of promoting unity, justice and the development goals.

Whereas, Pakistan has always been committed to providing an ideological boost to the Muslim Ummah.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.

 

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