The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states spread over four continents.The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world. It endeavors to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
The Organization was established upon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco on 25 September 1969 following the criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.In 1970 the first ever meeting of Islamic Conference of Foreign Minister (ICFM) was held in Jeddah which decided to establish a permanent secretariat in Jeddah headed by the organization’s secretary general.
Among the OIC’s key bodies: the Islamic Summit, the Council of Foreign Ministers(CFM), the General Secretariat, in addition to the Al-Quds Committee and three permanent committees concerned with science and technology, economy and trade,and information and culture. There are also specialized organs under the banner of the OIC including the Islamic Development Bank and the Islamic Educational,Scientific and Cultural Organization, as well as subsidiary and affiliate organs that play a vital role in boosting cooperation in various fields among the OIC member states.
Significance of meet for India
India’s External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj addressed the inaugural session of the 46th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers on March 1, 2019, in Abu Dhabi as a “guest of honor” invited by this year’s OIC host country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
India overcame a five-decade-old hurdle to get itself invited to Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) meet through deft diplomatic moves, back-channel negotiations and widening engagement not only with just with the UAE but also across the Islamic World. The present invite is a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos =. Especially, it comes at the time of heightened tensions with Pakistan following the Pulwama terrorist attack. Hence, it is seen as a significant diplomatic victory for New Delhi.
The Ministers and Heads of delegation addressed the meeting in which they highlighted the numerous challenges facing the Muslim World and stressed the need to enhance intra-OIC solidarity and Joint Islamic Action to overcome these challenges.
A wide range of issues of interest to the Member States were discussed by the Council leading to the adoption of resolutions in the various domains, including the cause of Palestine and Al Quds Al-Sharif; Political Affairs; Statutory, Organic and General Matters; Legal Affairs; Conditions of Muslim Minorities and Communities in non-OIC Member States; Information Affairs; Administrative and Financial Affairs;Humanitarian Affairs; Economic, Science and Technology, Cultural, Social, and Family Affairs.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan requested to reflect in the report of the CFM that it boycotted the inaugural session to register its disapproval to the participation of the Indian Foreign Minister. Pakistan registered its reservation on the Abu Dhabi declaration and stressed the necessity for the OIC to formulate rules for the issuance of CFM declarations in the OIC meetings. Likewise, for inviting special guests/guests of honour from a non-Member State.
Challenges For India
Although this years invite generated great goodwill for India, the forum still issued its routine anti-India resolutions sponsored by Pakistan. One resolution, referring to”Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir”, highlighted “human rights violations” in the state, and called for a “plebiscite” in accordance with “international legitimacy” and UN Security Council resolutions in order to resolve this “core dispute” between India and Pakistan. The resolution also condemned “the wave of Indian terrorism” in the state.
Another resolution called for “third-party intervention” by the international community, including the United Nations, to resolve the various disputes between India and Pakistan.
The wording of these resolutions has largely remained the same over the past several years.
All OIC members are aware of Pakistan’s sponsorship of extremism and violence as instruments of state policy. In fact, after the assault on Mumbai in November 2008,they feel threatened by the possibility of jihadi attacks from Pakistan-sponsored extremists.
Thus, there is a deep divide between the OIC resolutions pushed through by Pakistan at OIC forums and the understanding and positions of other OIC members.This dichotomy creates a dilemma for India in deciding how to shape its ties with this multilateral body, particularly when, given the way the OIC functions, these resolutions might not dry up anytime soon.
Arguments in Favour of India’s Membership
India see this invitation as a milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE. India also see this invitation as a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world.
Ms. Swaraj said the fight against terrorism and extremism does not amount to a clash of cultures and instead described it as a fight between ideas.
India has always maintained that it should naturally be a full member of the OIC considering the huge Muslim population – the second largest in the world. It was considered an anomaly that the voice of 10 per cent of the world’s Muslim population was muted at the OIC that represents the “collective voice of the Muslim world.”
- Region’s growing economic & energy interdependence with India.
- India is emerging as the world’s 3rd largest economy.
- It is one of the biggest hydrocarbon importers and labour exporters.