IRCICA Hosts the UN-OIC General Meeting on Cooperation Istanbul, IRCICA Headquarters, 28-29 June and 1st July 2010-06-30

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I. Introduction

Pursuant to General Assembly resolutions 50/17 of 28 November 1995 and 63/114 of 26 February 2009, the General Meeting on Cooperation between the Secretariats of the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and their specialized organizations and agencies took place on the premises of Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) in Istanbul between June-1 July 2010. The agenda, programme of work and the list of participants are attached as Annexes I, II, and III.

Before the opening of the meeting, H.E. Mr. B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs of the United Nations visited Dr. Halit Eren, Director General, in his office in the headquarters of IRCICA. Dr. Eren briefed him on the activities of IRCICA.

H.E. Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference met with H.E. Mr. B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs of the United Nations, to discuss the joint cooperation between the two organizations. Together they chaired the opening session and addressed the meeting.

The meeting was attended by the following UN and OIC Bodies: United Nations System

Department of Political Affairs (DPA), Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) – UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID, Alliance of Civilizations, Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Food Programme (WFP), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, International Labour Organization (ILO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

Organization of the Islamic Conference

General Secretariat of the OIC, the OIC Permanent Observer Mission in New York, OIC Permanent Observer Mission in Geneva, Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC), Standing Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH), Standing Committee for Information and Cultural Affairs (COMIAC), Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Islamic Centre for the Development of Trade (ICDT), Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB), Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF), Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), Islamic University of Technology (IUT), Islamic Committee of International Crescent (ICIC), Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (ICYF-DC), Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF).

The Meeting deliberated the following issues and the assigned focal points of areas of joint cooperation:

1.         Presentation by the UN of the report on the activities undertaken since the UN-OIC general meeting in Geneva (July 2008)

2.         Review of cooperation and appraisal of progress achieved in priority areas of cooperation:

>Political dimension of the UN-OIC cooperation:

i.          Conflict prevention and resolution, peace-building, peacekeeping, combating terrorism, disarmament, promotion of human rights, exchange of experience and training;

ii.         Maintenance of international peace and security (Middle East and Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan/Darfur, Niger, Guinea);

iii.       Cooperation with the Alliance of Civilizations;

> Humanitarian issues (protection of and assistance to refugees and IDPs)

> Human settlements

> Dialogue among cultures and civilizations and cultural diversity

> Trade and development (poverty alleviation, tourism)

> Transport and telecommunications (ICT)

> Technical cooperation

> Food security and agriculture

> Industry and joint ventures

> Development of science and technology

> Human resources development

> Environment, health and population

> Education (incl. higher education) and eradication of illiteracy

> Development of arts and crafts and promotion of heritage

^ Social issues concerning women, children and the youth

> Decent work and social protection

3.         Consideration of ways and means to enhance the mechanism of cooperation’

4.        Other matters

The Meeting was opened by Dr. Halit Eren, Director General of IRCICA who stressed the importance of holding this meeting on the historical premises of Yıldız Palace in Istanbul, which has for millennia been one of the world’s main civilization crossroads, and coincides with commemoration of IRCICA role with Istanbul as a joint European Capital of Culture 2010. Furthermore, he added that the Coordination Meeting has increasingly been instrumental for the UN and the OIC agencies and institutions to appraise developments and plan the progress in their cooperation. The present period sees developments in this cooperation, since times bring new requirements that directly or indirectly call for renewed efforts on the part of international organizations. In all our activities, we consider new developments and give importance to cooperation with international and regional organizations. This was realized recently on the occasion of the visit of the Director-General of UNESCO to IRCICA one week ago, on 22 June, which opened new avenues of concrete cooperation in several areas.

H.E Secretary General of OIC Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu addressed the meeting emphasizing the relationship between the OIC and the UN as a good example of collaboration in addressing important global challenges of peace, security and development.  He added that the OIC which its advantages in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts involving its Member States, is ready to engage in a wide range of partnerships to assist the UN in its genuine efforts to maintain peace and security. He also emphasized the OIC’s full commitment to pursue and reinforce its cooperation with the UN in all areas of common interest such as political, humanitarian, economic and human development, science and technology, cultural and social issues, human rights, refugees and migration.

He added that more effective cooperation with the United Nations Programs, agencies and funds is also needed.  He also pointed out that he strongly believed that there is a vital need to address the shortcomings and weaknesses in the bilateral cooperation between the two organizations and to ensure that there would be a follow-up to the outcome of the joint meetings in order to achieve the aimed common objectives and goals.

H.E. Mr. Lynn Pascoe, Undersecretary-General of the United Nations Organizations addressed the meeting and emphasized the issue of strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference and confirmed the willingness for the continuation process of making progress on an array of shared concerns.  He pointed out that UN is eager to strengthen the ties between the two organizations.  He expressed his appreciation of OIC’s support of the issues related to Palestine, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somali and the engagement on Iraq and Niger and the strengthening of cooperation against terrorism through the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate.  He added that the OIC and its members also have a key role to play in advancing the Alliance of Civilization and confronting prejudice, extremism and Islamophobia.  He pointed out that the experience of OIC, knowledge and support are crucial to the success across this spectrum of threats and opportunities.

Working papers prepared by the participating organizations, agencies and institutions were distributed to the delegates


The meeting expressed satisfaction at the level of cooperation between the two Organizations and contacts between the Secretaries-General of the UN and OIC. It stressed the importance of general cooperation meetings as fora for setting directions, making assessments, evaluating prospects and providing a follow-up for collaboration. The meeting took note of the Follow-up Report (2008-2010) on Cooperation between the UN and the OIC presented by DPA on the basis of contributions from the UN agencies, programs and organizations as well as the OIC-UN Follow-up Report prepared ISESCO.

Both Organizations stated their commitment to pursue and reinforce cooperation in all areas of common interest such as political, dialogue of civilizations, the fight against terrorism, economic, humanitarian, science and technology, human development,, social, cultural, human rights, refugees.

The meeting expressed its appreciation to IRCICA for hosting the 2010 general meeting on cooperation, providing warm hospitality, excellent support and facilities.


H. E. Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and H. E. Mr. B. Lynn Pascoe met on the sidelines of the meeting. While they agreed that the UN-OIC cooperation has improved over the years, it could be further enhanced and the usefulness of the general meetings would increase if:

i)         emphasis is made on improving collaboration in (a) conflict prevention; (b) capacity building; and (c) counter-terrorism, fighting extremism and countering Islamophobia;

ii)                practical and concrete results are obtained and resources are mobilised;

iii)              follow-up mechanisms are in place to ensure that the decisions/recommendations are carried out;

iv)              contacts on all levels are institutionalised so that the UN and OIC work together at all levels to the benefit of both Organizations and their membership.

The UN and OIC representatives valued holding consultations on issues of mutual concern. The OIC Secretary-General called for enlarging the scope and frequency of DPA-OIC consultations, including during General Assembly sessions in New York and through the exchange of visits.

Accordingly, the meeting decided to improve the follow-up mechanisms by strengthening practical cooperation and building capacity through concrete projects some of which are outlined in this document as well as through building institutional linkages between the two Secretariats.

II. General agreements

The meeting noted with satisfaction the strengthening of cooperation between the two organizations in all fields.  It took note of the activities being carried out to improve collaboration and reviewed the implementation of joint projects.  The meeting welcomed the increased political contacts between the Secretaries-General of the two organizations.


Working Group on Cultural and Social Issues exchanged views on optimal approaches to address the engagement in the identified areas of cooperation. At the end of bilateral consultations, the following bilateral or trilateral joint projects were mutually agreed on by both organizations.

The Meeting was briefed by the representative of the OIC General Secretariat on activities in the social sphere including the integrated approach being followed in the area of human rights with particular emphasis on women, children, youth and family affairs. He highlighted the adoption of the OIC Plan of Action for Advancement of Women (OPAA W) and added that a Cairo Centre for Women had been established to monitor the implementation of the plan. The Organization’s activities with regard to children were also touched upon with reference to the convening of three conferences in Rabat Khartoum and Cairo with the fourth one in Tripoli being prepared for. The establishment of a new Department of Family Affairs at the General Secretariat and activities in the area of youth were also highlighted.

It was agreed that the OIC will continue to build on its cooperation with the relevant UN agencies including UNICEF and UNESCO. The need for reflecting the OIC activities in the cultural and social domain in the reports by the UN Secretary General as well as the relevant UN resolutions was also highlighted.

IRCICA is a member of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilisations. A MoU has been signed at the Third Forum held in Rio at the end of May, highlighting areas in which IRCICA contributes and will contribute to the objectives of the Alliance of Civilisations. RCICA actively participated in the Third Forum held in Rio where it organised a Thematic Session titled "History as a Tool for Cultural Cooperation" organised jointly with Council of Europe and North-South Centre of Council of Europe.

IRCICA, Council of Europe and North-South Centre of Council of Europe presented one of their joint projects to the Second Forum of the Alliance of Civilisations held in Istanbul in 2009. The project is titled "A history of interactions within and around the Mediterranean and with other cultures" and aims to build a world-wide network of historians and produce teaching materials highlighting interactions among cultures.

IRCICA is planning to organize an international symposium in cooperation with a major US-based university on the Contribution of Islamic Civilization to Western Civilization. IRCICA invited the AoC to contribute to the organization and realization of this symposium in the context of close cooperation between the two institutions.

Development of Arts and Crafts and Promotion of Heritage


The tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the establishment of a ‘Laboratory for the Conservation of Manuscripts and Old Books’ as a ‘Book Hospital’ at the Siileymaniye Library in Istanbul, a joint project of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey, UNESCO and IRCICA, was ratified by the Turkish Parliament in 2010. The implementation of the project was accelerated after its ratification. It was first launched with the signing of the MOU on 29 November 2006 at UNESCO Headquarters.

IRCICA also participates in the activities of the UNESCO ‘Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures’ by organizing a multi-media exhibition, including a three – dimensional (3D) presentation, on the theme "Cultural Coexistence, Common Heritage". The exhibition will be launched in Istanbul on the occasion of the OIC-UN General Meeting on Cooperation.

UNESCO’s International Dialogue Section and IRCICA will jointly organize a seminar on ‘African-Ottoman Relations: Past Routes, Reciprocal Immigration and Present Heritage’ which was scheduled to be held on 9 July 2010 at IRCICA, in Istanbul.

IRCICA and UNESCO will explore cooperation in launching a joint initiative to assess and review history text books with a view to insuring teaching of history that presents better understanding, and promotes respect for each other’s history, culture and traditions.

Progress of on-going joint projects was appraised and proposed future joint activities were considered during the visit of UENSCO Director General to IRCICA on 22 June 2010.

The Centre will organise a multi-media exhibition including a 3D presentation, on the theme "Cultural Coexistence, Common Heritage". The exhibition will be launched on the occasion of the seminar on "African-Ottoman Relations: past routes, reciprocal emigration and present heritage" to be held at IRCICA on 9-10 July 2010.

IRCICA and UNESCO will continue its existing cooperation and exchange of data and technical information in the field arts and crafts development, in particular providing opportunities for artisans through exhibitions and workshops to exchange and learn from each other’s works, techniques, skills and applied traditions.  In this concern, IRCICA published a volume entitled Tourism and Handicrafts in the Muslim World.

Consultations, participation in meetings and activities mutually, and collaboration between UNESCO’s World Heritage Center and IRCICA are in progress in accordance with the Cooperation Agreement signed between the two parties on 12 June 2009. –


Both parties agreed to study together possibilities of cooperation with regard to youth, earth technology and refugee housing, preservation of the historic character of Old Jerusalem and refugee camp development and infrastructure design.


Three parties agreed to:

           Exchange experience and lessons learned in city development planning, urban regeneration and upgrading,

           UNHABITAT will provide training of trainees in strategic planning for local economic development upon demand,

           IDB, UNHABITAT and IRCICA will explore possibilities to develop a program of cooperation that promotes local economic development in poorer traditional areas of Islamic cities that enhance and preserve traditional arts and crafts,

           UNHABITAT and IRCICA will explore possibilities with OPT program to jointly engage in city rehabilitation


Agreed to explore possibilities for cooperation in the interest of its common member countries in the area of youth entrepreneur ship.


UNDP and IRCICA will explore the possibilities of cooperation with the programme of Assistance to Palestinian people (PAPP), and with the Special Unit for South-South (Cooperation) in supporting the work of about 10 post graduate students for a 6-weeks study mission in Jerusalem under IRCICA Programe Jerusalem-2015.  The work will involve studying historical sites and architectural buildings as well as designing restoration plans to be transferred into software for use within the restoration process.

IRCICA and SUSSC of UNDP reviewed the progress of the plan for identifying and recording information on Southern providers of software for use in identifying and recording information on the archaeological and urban historical sites for the preparation of a comprehensive compendium on such sites in OIC Member States.  This was discussed at the Rabat Coordination Meeting in 2006.  IRCICA renewed its request for cooperation in identifying and mobilizing the resources for obtaining the software for the implementation of IRCICA’s Architectural Heritage Program.  Since the information provided by SUSSC before was followed up but found to be somewhat insufficient.


ESCWA and IRCICA explore the possibility of enhancing cooperation in the field of common concern issues.  Both agreed to define means of cooperation in the field of arts and crafts sector in particular supporting the development of SME’s in relevant fields in a way that advance the skills of women and youth working in the sector.

It was also agreed to exchange data and expertise in this specific area of cooperation.  The two parties will seek the possibility of joining hands for raising awareness on the existing traditional arts and crafts as well as building capacity of cadres working in the field through organizing exhibitions and training workshops and seminars that will promote well the arts and crafts sector.

Finally, the meeting agreed on the need for a viable follow-up mechanism to ensure the speedy implementation of the recommendations of the meeting.

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