Statement issued from the UJN Regional Meeting, Jakarta, Indonesia, February 2010
The Universal Justice Network (UJN) welcomes the various moves by the Organisation of Islamic Conference to transform its organisation under its ten year programme of action to meet the challenges facing the Muslim Ummah in the 21st Century adopted in 2005 at the Third Extraordinary Session of the Islamic Summit Conference in Makkah.
Within that document the OIC commits itself to structural reform that includes strengthening its relations with non-governmental and civil society organisations, as well as actively seeking a working partnership with NGSO and CSOs on issues of common concern e.g. disaster relief and combating Islamophobia.
We are now into the fifth year of this plan, and the UJN respectfully submits that the OIC start in earnest to facilitate NGO and CSO participation in OIC processes. Currently no NGOs, even those working solely in fields of common interest with the OIC have any standing with the body. The OIC in this regard lags behind other intergovernmental organisations. At a time when Islam and Muslims are under serious and persistent threats, the role of an organisation like OIC is ever more vital. By not communication with NGOs and CSOs, the OIC loses valuable support, resources and indeed expertise from these sectors that could otherwise greatly enhance its operation. Further it loses reputation by perpetuating the perception that the OIC cares little for the aspirations and concerns of the Muslim masses or its vigorous and diverse civil society. Whilst this may be a false perception, it is nevertheless one that exists in many quarters and which needs to be addressed by the OIC.
As the 10 year programme rightly highlighted, there are many burning issues that the OIC must attend to – not because the OIC is a Muslim organisation, but because the OIC adheres to Islamic principles that demand justice for all peoples. In this regard, the UJN applauds the OIC’s commitment to work on poverty eradication in Africa, create a disaster relief infrastructure, and to combat all forms of hatred and promote tolerance. UJN, however, also respectfully submits that these goals are shared by many NGOs and CSOs working within Muslim countries, as well as Muslim faith based organisations based in other parts of this world. Not to allow those groups access and input in the OIC is to undermine those lofty goals in its earliest stages.