IRCICA is a subsidiary organ of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). IRCICA was established in 1979 as the first cultural centre of the OIC (then named Organisation of the Islamic Conference) (www.oic-oci.org). The 57 Member States of the OIC are also members of IRCICA.
The idea to establish IRCICA was proposed by the Republic of Turkey during the Seventh Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (presently named the Council of Foreign Ministers), in Istanbul, 1976, and approved by the Conference. Resolution no. 3/7-ECS. The Establishment Statute of the Centre was adopted by the 9th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (Dakar, 1978) and later revised by the 6th Islamic Summit Conference (Dakar, 1991) which adopted the Framework Statute of the Subsidiary Organs of OIC by its Resolution no. 1/6-Org (IS). The Centre became operational upon the adoption of its first annual work program by the 11th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (Islamabad, 1980).
In addition to its own mandate, from 1983 to 2000 IRCICA fulfilled the function of the Secretariat and Executive Organ of the International Commission for the Preservation of Islamic Heritage (ICPICH), in accordance with the Commission’s Statute that was adopted by the 13th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (Niamey, 1982). The Commission was merged into IRCICA in June 2000, by decision of the 27th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (Kuala Lumpur, June 2000), upon the demise of its Chairman, H.R.H. Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, General President of Youth Welfare in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in 1999. Following the merger of ICPICH with IRCICA, the activities previously undertaken by ICPICH were incorporated in IRCICA’s work programs.
The main functions of IRCICA stipulated in its Statute are the following:
- To act as a focal point and meeting place for scholars, researchers, artists, institutions, organizations, and other parties within and outside the Member States which deal with studies and research on various aspects of Islamic civilization
- To create objective conditions for cooperation among the parties concerned world-wide with an aim to eliminate prejudices against Islam and its civilization, project their correct image, inform the world opinion on their role and place in world civilization, and promote a better understanding and a dialogue between Muslims and other peoples of the world
- To undertake research, publish books, bibliographies, catalogues, albums and other reference works related to the history of Muslim nations, the history of arts and sciences in Islam, cultural heritage, and all other aspects of Islamic culture and civilization to reinforce awareness of these subjects in world public opinion
- To organize conferences, symposia, exhibitions and other cultural functions on its premises, in the Member States and at other venues to disseminate the results of its activities, encourage studies and stimulate international cooperation in the fields of Islamic culture and civilization
- To pay special attention to the cultural needs of Muslim nations and communities living in non-Member States and help to strengthen cultural solidarity between the Member States and the Muslim nations and communities
- To assess and study the sources and the products of cultural, scientific, artistic etc. life throughout the history of Islam with an aim to foster scholarly studies and create public awareness on the achievements of Islamic civilization
- To undertake studies regarding all aspects of the heritage of Islamic civilization, with an aim to reinforce the concept of Islamic cultural heritage and to register, preserve and highlight the assets of this heritage, including fixed assets related to archaeology, cities and architectural monuments and movable – tangible and intangible – assets such as manuscript works, library and archive items, audio-visual objects and materials, traditional arts and crafts and other products and forms of expression of Islamic culture
- To establish programs for the identification and recording, by means of data banks and other archival, documentary and other means, of the assets and materials related to Islamic cultural heritage, for their assessment, restoration and preservation whether at home or abroad, and recovery and retrieval of those that are lost or scattered
- To maintain directories, rosters, registers and pools of expertise related to resource persons, specialists, technical experts and institutions, competent in activities of research, training, information, restoration and conservation in various fields of Islamic cultural heritage
- To set up, develop and operate a reference library and archives and documentation facilities to serve the needs of the Member States, researchers, students and other parties interested in the study of Islamic civilization
- To organize training programs to upgrade skills and techniques in various fields of Islamic arts and train the specialized manpower required for the restoration, preservation and use of historical documents and other assets of Islamic heritage
- To foster studies in the fields of Islamic culture and civilization, organize and participate in the organization of graduate studies in these fields, in cooperation with universities and other institutions of higher learning
- To take measures and establish incentive programs such as awards and competitions aimed at acknowledging and stimulating individual and institutional achievements, services and contributions in various fields of Islamic culture, scholarship, arts and heritage
- To establish and promote linkages and cooperation with all relevant international, regional and national organizations throughout the world
- To render advice to the Member States and the Secretary General on all matters connected with Islamic civilization and carry out the studies and projects required by the Council of Foreign Ministers and the Secretary General. The projects and activities that are comprised in the Centre’s work program for 2016 and equally in the present budget proposal are geared towards fulfillment of IRCICA’s above functions under their diverse aspects. They include tasks and operations to be started, continued or completed during 2015 under new or continuing programs and projects.
The official working languages of IRCICA are Arabic, English and French. All its books, reports and administrative documents are produced in these three languages. IRCICA occasionally publishes editions of books in other languages of its Member States. Some of its publications are translated into languages other than those of its Member States.
IRCICA’s headquarters are in Fatih district of Istanbul. From its establishment in 1979 until July 2017 the Centre was located at Yıldız Palace, Istanbul. Then it was transferred to a complex of five buildings allocated by the Presidency of Turkey in the historical core of the city.
IRCICA’s first location was in the historical Yıldız Palace, which was one of the last seats of the Ottoman State. Four buildings of this palace complex were allocated by the Government of Turkey to the Centre gradually over the years namely Seyir Pavillion, Çit Qasr, Yaveran Qasr and Silahhane (Armoury) Building. Çit Qasr allocated to its use in 1982 and Yaveran Qasr allocated in 1984 were restored by the Centre by means of international fund-raising campaigns with donations by states, personalities and business people. After allocation of the fourth building, namely Silahhane Building, to IRCICA to serve as its library, restoration of its interior was sponsored by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Emir of Dubai. The building was inaugurated as the IRCICA Library by H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, then Prime Minister of Turkey, at a ceremony held on 17 May 2009 in the Palace courtyard.
Bab-ı Ali Complex
IRCICA’s headquarters were transferred from Yıldız Palace to the district of Fatih, in the historical core of Istanbul, as of July 2017. The new premises allocated to IRCICA by the Presidency of the Turkish Republic are situated in a complex of buildings some of which are historical monuments. The complex was used until 2014 as the repository of the Ottoman archives (“Hazine-i Evrak” – Treasury of Documents, i.e. state archives). The area was part of the “Bab-ı Ali” (“Sublime Porte”), i.e. the Grand Vizier’s offices. This building now comprises the Directorate General of IRCICA together with an exhibition hall. The four other buildings allocated to the Centre are used by the departments of research, library and documentation, finance and administration. The main conference hall is in the library building.
IRCICA’s organizational set-up comprises the General Assembly, the Governing Board and the Director General.
The Islamic Commission for Economic, Cultural and Social Affairs, a specialized committee of the OIC which meets annually, acts as the Joint General Assembly of the Subsidiary Organs of the OIC, hence as the General Assembly of IRCICA. The Islamic Commission as the General Assembly of IRCICA examines the annual activity programs, budget proposals and final accounts of the Centre and submits them to the approval of the Council of Foreign Ministers.
The Governing Board of IRCICA, its immediate supervisory body, is composed of: the representatives of nine Member States, including the host country Turkey, which are elected by the Member States through IRCICA’s General Assembly (the Islamic Commission for Economic, Cultural and Social Affairs) for terms of three years, renewable once, together with the Secretary General of the OIC or his representative and the Director General of the Centre as ex-officio members. Activity reports, work programs and budgets of the Centre are finalized by the Governing Board before their adoption by the General Assembly and ultimately the Council of Foreign Ministers.
- Research and Publications Department
- Studies on the Holy Quran
- Islamic Civilization and Muslim Nations
- Cultural and Architectural Heritage
- Islamic Arts and Handicrafts
- Library and Archive Department
- Administration and Finance Department
- Information Technology Department