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"OIC" redirects here. For other uses, see OIC (disambiguation).

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
  Member states
  Observer states
  Blocked states
  Suspended states
Administrative centreSaudi Arabia Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Official languages
Type Religious
Membership 57 member states
 -  Secretary-General Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu
 -  Charter signed 25 September 1969 
 -  2011 estimate 1.6 billion

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC; Arabic: منظمة التعاون الإسلامي‎; French: Organisation de la Coopération Islamique, OCI)[a 1] is an international organisation consisting of 57 member states. The organisation states that it is "the collective voice of the Muslim world" and works to "safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony".[1]

The OIC has a permanent delegation to the United Nations, and is the largest international organisation outside the United Nations.[2] The official languages of the OIC are Arabic, English and French.

History and goals

Since the 19th century, some Muslims had aspired to ummah to serve their common political, economic, and social interests. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the Caliphate after World War I left a vacuum for a pan-Islamic institution. Losing the Six-Day War in 1967 provided the incentive needed. Leaders of Muslim nations met in Rabat to establish the OIC on 25 September 1969.[1]

According to its charter, the OIC aims to preserve Islamic social and economic values; promote solidarity amongst member states; increase cooperation in social, economic, cultural, scientific, and political areas; uphold international peace and security; and advance education, particularly in the fields of science and technology.[1]

The emblem of the OIC (shown above) contains three main elements that reflect its vision and mission as incorporated in its new Charter. These elements are: the Ka’bah, the Globe, and the Crescent.

On 5 August 1990, 45 foreign ministers of the OIC adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam to serve as a guidance for the member states in the matters of human rights in as much as they are compatible with the Sharia, or Quranic Law.[3]

In June 2008, the OIC conducted a formal revision of its charter. The revised charter set out to promote human rights, fundamental freedoms, and good governance in all member states. The revisions also removed any mention of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. Within the revised charter, the OIC has chosen to support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law.[4]

New name and emblem

On 28 June 2011 during the 38th Council of Foreign Ministers meeting (CFM) in Astana, Kazakhstan the organisation changed its name from Organisation of the Islamic Conference (Arabic: منظمة المؤتمر الإسلامي‎; French: Organisation de la Conférence Islamique) to its current name.[5] The OIC also changed its logo at this time.

In 1969, Muslim leaders met in a historic Islamic Summit Conference and decided to establish an organisation that unified their efforts towards common objectives. Consequently, in 1970 the foreign ministers met and established a General Secretariat for the Organisation of the Islamic Conference as the collective voice of the Muslim world that represents its interests and defends its causes. The name chosen for the Organisation reflected the occasion for its establishment.

While the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestine remain the central issues for the Organisation, its activities and role have expanded in the past 40 years to meet the demands and expectations of the Muslim world. Since 1969 the number of Member States has increased, Observer states have been accepted, and various Subsidiary, Specialised, and Affiliated institutions have been created to serve the Muslim world. Furthermore, the role of the Organisation itself in the international arena has become more prominent and active.

In 2005, at the Extraordinary Makkah Summit, the leaders adopted the Ten Year Programme of Action, which among other things, approved changing the name of the Organisation and revising its Charter as part of reforming it. In 2008, at the Dakar Summit, the new Charter was adopted and a decision was made to initiate the process of changing the name in consultation with the Member States.

After intense deliberations, the name chosen by consensus that would maintain the same acronym OIC is: Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

The new emblem of the OIC contains three main elements that reflect its vision and mission as incorporated in its new Charter. These elements are: the Ka’bah, the Globe, and the Crescent.

At the centre of the design is The Ka’bah, the focal point of the Islamic world. Placed at the centre of the design it symbolises the Islamic world and its unity, and therefrom, it symbolises the Member States and the OIC as their union.

Surrounding the Ka’bah is The Globe with the meridian lines drawn to represent the diversity of humanity in its many nations and tribes within the universal context represented by the emblem.

And The Crescent, symbolising Islam, embrases the Muslim world, indicating that Islam is the guiding motive, protective, and unifying force of the Muslim world, and therefrom, that Islam is the guiding motive, protective, and unifying force of the OIC.

Putting the three elements together, the Crescent engulfing the Globe with the Ka’bah at its centre represents the universal outlook of Islam. This evokes • the OIC’s taking guidance from Islam, belonging to and serving the Islamic world, and at the same time, • its global outlook, keeping attune to and addressing international issues.

The Crescent being positioned on the side with its centre aligned with the inclined axis of the Globe evokes the Globe revolving around its axis and therefrom it implies the dynamism of the universe, of Islam, and the OIC.

The Ka’bah is situated slightly above the globe's meridian line, which emphasises its supreme significance.

Member states

Main article: Member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has 57 members, 56 of which are classed by the United Nations as member states. Some, especially in West Africa, are - though with large Muslim populations - not necessarily Muslim majority countries. A few countries with significant Muslim populations, such as Russia and Thailand, sit as Observer States, while others, such as India and Ethiopia, are not members.

The collective population of OIC member states is over 1.4 billion as of 2008.


According to the UNHCR, OIC countries hosted 18 million refugees by the end of 2010. Since then OIC members have absorbed refugees from other conflicts, including the uprising in Syria. In May 2012, the OIC is expected to address these concerns at the "Refugees in the Muslim World" conference in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.[6]


The Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUOICM) was established in Iran in 1999, and its head office is situated in Tehran. Only OIC members are entitled to membership in the union.[7]

On 27 June 2007, then-United States President George W. Bush announced that the United States would establish an envoy to the OIC. Bush said of the envoy, "Our special envoy will listen to and learn from representatives from Muslim states, and will share with them America's views and values."[8] The current special envoy is Rashad Hussain, who was appointed on 13 February 2010.[9] In an investigation of the accuracy of a series of chain emails, reported that during the October 2003 – April 2004 session of the General Assembly, 17 individual members of the OIC voted against the United States 88 % of the time.[10]

The OIC, on 28 March 2008, joined the criticism of the film Fitna by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, which features disturbing images of violent acts juxtaposed with verses from the Quran.[11]

Stance on cartoons of Muhammad

Cartoons of Muhammad, published in a Danish newspaper in September 2005, were found offensive to a number of Muslims. Third Extraordinary Session of the Islamic Summit Conference in December 2005 condemned publication of the cartoons, resulting in broader coverage of the issue by news media in Muslim countries. Subsequently, violent demonstrations throughout the Islamic world resulted in several deaths.[12]

Human rights

OIC created the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam.[3] While proponents claim it is not an alternative to the UDHR, but rather complementary to it, Article 24 states that "[a]ll the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari'ah" and Article 25 follows with "[t]he Islamic Shari'ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration." Attempts to have it adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council have met increasing criticism, because of its contradiction of the UDHR, including from liberal Muslim groups.[13] Critics of the CDHR state bluntly that it is “manipulation and hypocrisy,” “designed to dilute, if not altogether eliminate, civil and political rights protected by international law” and attempts to “circumvent these principles [of freedom and equality].”[14][15][16]

Human Rights Watch says that OIC has “fought doggedly” and successfully within the United Nations Human Rights Council to shield states from criticism, except when it comes to criticism of Israel. For example, when independent experts reported violations of human rights in the 2006 Lebanon War, “state after state from the OIC took the floor to denounce the experts for daring to look beyond Israeli violations to discuss Hezbollah’s as well.” OIC demands that the council “should work cooperatively with abusive governments rather than condemn them.” HRW responds that this works with those who are willing to cooperate; others exploit the passivity.[17][18]

The OIC has been criticised for failing to discuss the treatment of ethnic minorities within member countries, such as the oppression of the Kurds in Syria, the Ahwaz in Iran, the Hazars in Afghanistan, the Baluchis in Pakistan, or the 'Al-Akhdam' in Yemen.[19]

Along with the revisions of the OIC’s charter in 2008, the member states created the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC). The IPHRC is an advisory body, independent from the OIC, composed of eighteen individuals from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds. The IPHRC has the power to monitor human rights within the member states and facilitates the integration of human rights into all OIC mandates. The IPHRC also aids in the promotion of political, civil, and economic rights in all member states.[20]

LGBT rights

In March 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council held its first discussion of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, following the 2011 passage of a resolution supporting LGBT rights proposed by the Republic of South Africa.[21] Pakistan's representative addressed the session on behalf of the OIC, denouncing the discussion and questioning the concept of sexual orientation, which he said was being used to promote "licentious behaviour ... against the fundamental teachings of various religions, including Islam". He stated that the council should not discuss the topic again. Most Arab countries and some African ones later walked out of the session.[22][23][24]

Nonetheless, OIC members Albania, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, and Sierra Leone have signed a UN Declaration supporting LGBT rights in the General Assembly.[25][26]


In 1999, OIC adopted the OIC Convention on Combatting International Terrorism.[27] Human Rights Watch has noted that the definition of terrorism in article 1 describes “any act or threat of violence carried out with the aim of, among other things, imperiling people’s honour, occupying or seizing public or private property, or threatening the stability, territorial integrity, political unity or sovereignty of a state.” HRW views this as vague, ill-defined and including much that is outside the generally accepted understandings of the concept of terrorism. In HRW's view, it labels, or could easily be used to label, as terrorist actions, acts of peaceful expression, association, and assembly.[28]

Legal scholar Ben Saul of University of Sydney argues that the definition is subjective and ambiguous and concludes that there is “serious danger of the abusive use of terrorist prosecutions against political opponents” and others.[29]

Furthermore, HRW is concerned by OIC’s apparent unwillingness to recognise as terrorism acts that serve causes endorsed by their member states. Article 2 reads: “Peoples’ struggle including armed struggle against foreign occupation, aggression, colonialism, and hegemony, aimed at liberation and self-determination.” HRW has suggested to OIC that they embrace “longstanding and universally recognised international human rights standards”,[28] a request that has as yet not led to any results.

Contradictions between OIC's and other UN members' understanding of terrorism has stymied efforts at the UN to produce a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.[30]

During a meeting in Malaysia in April 2002, delegates discussed terrorism but failed to reach a definition of it. They rejected, however, any description of the Palestinian fight with Israel as terrorism. Their declaration was explicit: "We reject any attempt to link terrorism to the struggle of the Palestinian people in the exercise of their inalienable right to establish their independent state with Al-Quds Al-Shrif (Jerusalem) as its capital." In fact, at the outset of the meeting, the OIC countries signed a statement praising the Palestinians and their "blessed intifada." The word terrorism was restricted to describe Israel, whom they condemned for "state terrorism" in their war with the Palestinian people.[31]

At the 34th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM), an OIC section, in May 2007, the foreign ministers termed Islamophobia the worst form of terrorism.[32]

Dispute with Thailand

Thailand has responded to OIC criticism of human rights abuses in the Muslim majority provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat in the south of the country. In a statement issued on 18 October 2005, secretary-general Ihsanoglu vocalised concern over the continuing conflict in the south that "claimed the lives of innocent people and forced the migration of local people out of their places".[33] He also stressed that the Thai government's security approach to the crisis would aggravate the situation and lead to continued violence.

On 18–19 April 2009, the exiled Patani leader Abu Yasir Fikri (see PULO) was invited to the OIC to speak about the conflict and present a solution to end the violence between the Thai government and the ethnically Malay Muslims living in the socioeconomically neglected south, that has been struggling against Thai assimilation policy and for self governance since it became annexed by Thailand in 1902. Fikri presented a six-point solution at the conference in Jiddah that included obtaining the same basic rights as other groups when it came to right of language, religion, and culture. He also suggested that Thailand give up its discriminatory policies against the Patani people and allow Patani to at least be allowed the same self-governing rights as other regions in Thailand already have, citing that this does not go against the Thai constitution since it has been done in other parts of Thailand and that it is a matter of political will.[34] He also criticised the Thai government’s escalation of violence by arming and creating Buddhist militia groups and questioned their intentions. He added Thai policies of not investigating corruption, murder, and human rights violations perpetrated by Bangkok-led administration and military personnel against the Malay Muslim population was an obstacle for achieving peace and healing the deep wounds of being treated as third-class citizens.[34][35]

Thailand responded to this criticism over its policies. The Thai foreign minister, Kantathi Suphamongkhon, said: “We have made it clear to the OIC several times that the violence in the deep South is not caused by religious conflict and the government grants protection to all of our citizens no matter what religion they embrace.” The Foreign Ministry issued a statement dismissing the OIC’s criticism and accusing it of disseminating misperceptions and misinformation about the situation in the southern provinces. “If the OIC secretariat really wants to promote the cause of peace and harmony in the three southern provinces of Thailand, the responsibility falls on the OIC secretariat to strongly condemn the militants, who are perpetrating these acts of violence against both Thai Muslims and Thai Buddhists.”[33][36][37] HRW[38] and Amnesty International[35] have echoed the same concerns as OIC, rebuffing Thailand's attempts to dismiss the issue.

Dispute with India

India has also criticised the OIC for referring to parts of Kashmir as "occupied by India".[39] Although India has about 10% of the world's Muslim population, it has been blocked by Pakistan from joining the OIC.[39][40][41]

Notable meetings

A number of OIC meetings have attracted global attention.

Ninth meeting of PUOICM

The ninth meeting of Parliamentary Union of the OIC member states (PUOICM) was held on 15 and 16 February 2007 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.[42] The speaker of Malaysia's House of Representatives, Ramli bin Ngah Talib, delivered a speech at the beginning of the inaugural ceremony. OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said prior to the meeting that one main agenda item was stopping Israel from continuing its excavation at the Western Wall near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest site.[43] The OIC also discussed how it might send peacekeeping troops to Muslim states, as well as the possibility of a change in the name of the body and its charter.[43] Additionally, return of the sovereignty right to the Iraqi people along with withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq was another one of the main issues on the agenda.[44]

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri told reporters on 14 February 2007 that the secretary general of OIC and foreign ministers of seven "like-minded Muslim countries" would meet in Islamabad on 25 February 2007 following meetings of President Musharraf with heads of key Muslim countries to discuss "a new initiative" for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Kasuri said this would be a meeting of foreign ministers of key Muslim countries to discuss and prepare for a summit in Makkah Al Mukarramah to seek the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.[45]

IPHRC Trip to Washington DC

In December 2012, the IPHRC met in Washington, DC for the first time. The IPHRC held meetings at the National Press Club, Capitol Hill and Freedom House discussing the issues of human rights defense in the OIC member states. During their roundtable discussion with Freedom House the IPHRC emphasised the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rejection of the Cairo Declaration by the OIC.[46]

Structure and organisation

The OIC system consists of:

Islamic summit

The largest meeting, attended by the kings and the heads of state and government of the member states, convenes every three years.The Islamic Summit takes policy decisions and provide guidance on all issues pertaining to the realisation of the objectives as provided for in the Charter and consider other issues of concern to the Member States and the Ummah.[47]

Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers

It meets once a year to examine a progress report on the implementation of its decisions taken within the framework of the policy defined by the Islamic Summit.

Secretary General

The Secretary General is elected by the Council of Foreign Ministers for a period of five years, renewable once. The Secretary-General is elected from among nationals of the Member States in accordance with the principles of equitable geographical distribution, rotation and equal opportunity for all Member States with due consideration to competence, integrity and experience.[48]

Permanent Secretariat

It is the executive organ of the Organisation, entrusted with the implementation of the decisions of the two preceding bodies, and is located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The current secretary general of this international organisation is Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, from Turkey, since 31 December 2004.

Subsidiary organisations

Specialised institutions

  • The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO), located in Rabat, Morocco.
  • The Islamic States Broadcasting Organisation (ISBO) and the International Islamic News Agency (IINA), located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Affiliated institutions

  • Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), located in Karachi, Pakistan.
  • World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Organisation of Islamic Capitals and Cities (OICC), located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
  • Sports Federation of Islamic Solidarity Games, located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
  • Islamic Committee of the International Crescent (ICIC), located in Benghazi, Libya.
  • Islamic Shipowners Association (ISA), located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
  • World Federation of International Arab-Islamic Schools, located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
  • International Association of Islamic Banks (IAIB), located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
  • Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (ICYF-DC), located in Istanbul, Turkey.
  • General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), located in Manama, Bahrain.
  • Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC), located in Istanbul, Turkey.[49]


Secretaries-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation[50]
No. Name Country of origin Took office Left office
1 Tunku Abdul Rahman  Malaysia 1971 1974
2 Hassan Al-Touhami  Egypt 1974 1975
3 Amadou Karim Gaye  Senegal 1975 1979
4 Habib Chatty  Tunisia 1979 1984
5 Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada  Pakistan 1984 1988
6 Hamid Algabid  Niger 1988 1996
7 Azeddine Laraki  Morocco 1996 2000
8 Abdelouahed Belkeziz  Morocco 2000 2004
9 Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu  Turkey 2004 2014
10 Iyad bin Amin Madani  Saudi Arabia 2014

Islamic Summit Conferences

Number Date Country Place
1st 22–25 September 1969  Morocco Rabat
2nd[51] 22–24 February 1974  Pakistan Lahore
3rd[52] 25–29 January 1981  Saudi Arabia Mecca and Ta’if
4th 16–19 January 1984  Morocco Casablanca
5th[53] 26–29 January 1987  Kuwait Kuwait City
6th[54] 9–11 December 1991  Senegal Dakar
7th 13–15 December 1994  Morocco Casablanca
1st Extraordinary 23–24 March 1997  Pakistan Islamabad
8th 9–11 December 1997  Iran Tehran
9th 12–13 November 2000  Qatar Doha
2nd Extraordinary[55] 4–5 March 2003  Qatar Doha
10th 16–17 October 2003  Malaysia Putrajaya
3rd Extraordinary 7–8 December 2005  Saudi Arabia Mecca
11th[56] 13–14 March 2008  Senegal Dakar
4th Extraordinary[57] 14–15 August 2012  Saudi Arabia Mecca
12th[58] 6–7 February 2013  Egypt Cairo

See also

Islam portal



Further reading

  • Ankerl, Guy Coexisting Contemporary Civilisations: Arabo-Muslim, Bharati, Chinese, and Western. Geneva, INUPress, 2000, ISBN 2-88155-004-5.
  • Al-Huda, Qamar. "Organisation of the Islamic Conference." Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World. Edited by Martin, Richard C. Macmillan Reference, 2004. vol. 1 p. 394, 20 April 2008.

External links

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