OIC – Organization of the Islamic Conference

Created in 1969, upon a Saudi Arabian initiative and following the arson of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which was considered as an attack on the whole of the muslim world, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) was to represent one-fifth of the world population with the 650 million people it speaks for.

The Headquarters of the organisation are in Jeddah and its current Secretary General is Abdelouahed Belkeziz (Morocco, 1939). The organisation has Observer status at the UN.
Its essential aims are:

  • to promote solidarity among its members;
  • to adopt all necessary measures to help toward international peace and security founded on the basis of justice;
  • to coordinate efforts to protect the Holy Places of Islam and to support the struggle of the Palestinian people helping them to recover their rights and free their land.

In practice, the Organisation serves as an important relay in the international arena for positions adopted by the League of Arab States, although the members of the League do no longer hold a majority – since Benin and Brunei joined the Organisation in 1984 – and the population of the member countries of the League makes up less than one quarter of the total of the OIC.

The fifty-seven members of the OIC are

  • Afghanistan * (1969)
  • Albania (1992)
  • Algeria (1969)
  • Azerbaijan (1992)
  • Bahrain (972)
  • Bangladesh (1974)
  • Benin (1983)
  • Brunei (1984)
  • Burkina Faso (1974)
  • Cameroon (1974)
  • Chad (1969)
  • Comoros (1976)
  • Cote d’Ivoire (2001)
  • Djibouti (1978)
  • Egypt (1969)
  • Gabon (1974)
  • Gambia (1974)
  • Guinea (1969)
  • Guinea-Bissau (1974)
  • Guyana (1998)
  • Indonesia (1969)
  • Iran (1969)
  • Iraq (975)
  • Jordan (1969)
  • Kazakhstan (1995)
  • Kuwait (1969)
  • Kyrgystan (1992)
  • Lebanon (1969)
  • Libya (1969
  • Malaysia (1969)
  • Maldives (1976)
  • Mali (1969)
  • Mauritania (1969)
  • Morocco (969)
  • Mozambique (1994)
  • Niger (1969)
  • Nigeria ** (1986)
  • Oman (1972)
  • Pakistan (1969)
  • Palestine (1969)
  • Qatar (1972)
  • Saudi Arabia (1969)
  • Senegal (1969)
  • Sierra Leone (1972)
  • Somalia (1969)
  • Sudan (969)
  • Surinam (1996)
  • Syria (1972)
  • Tajikistan (1992)
  • Togo (1997)
  • Tunisia (1969)
  • Turkey (1969)
  • Turkmenistan (1992)
  • Uganda (1974)
  • United Arab Emirates (1972)
  • Uzbekistan (1996)
  • Yemen (1969)

* Afghanistan’s seat is vacant as only three OIC members – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – recognise the Taliban regime which controls 95% of the territory while Iran – the current chairman of the organization – and other nations still recognize the anti-Taliban government which only controls about 5% of Afghan territory. The ousted president Rabani represented Afghanistan in OIC summits until 1996. The Taliban and Mr. Rabani have been invited as observers to attend the Doha meeting in November 2000.
** Nigeria renounced its membership in 1991; however, the OIC has not recognized this decision.
It should be noted that observer status has been granted to countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Thailand and the Muslim community of the « Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus ».

Institutions like the Arab League, the Organisation of African Unity and the UN have also Observer status.

The structure of the Organisation is similar to that of the Arab League: Summit, Conference of Foreign Ministers, Secretary General and subsidiary organizations.

The Conference of Kings and Heads of States and Governments – the Islamic Summit – meets every three years and the Council of Foreign Ministers holds bi-annual meetings with regular sessions.

One difference to be noted with respect to the Arab League is that decisions in the OIC are taken with the 2/3 majority.

In spite of its name, the OIC does not pursue religious aims. It has political, cultural, economic and social objectives. Thus, countries with a secular ideology such as, for example, Algeria, Iraq, Turkey or Syria, participate and other member countries are represented by Christians. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of Muslims are not represented in the OIC as India or China are not member of the organization.

In January 1998, the OIC condemned the massacres in Algeria as being « anti-islamic » and urged Algiers to cooperate with the European Union which expressed its desire to help finding a solution for the crisis. It was the first time that an Islamic institution or country took such a position on the Algerian issue.

After the terrorist attacks on the 11th of September 2001, the OIC issued a statement condemning the « brutal and criminal » acts, stating that they are in contradiction wth the teachings of Islam. The statementunderlined the need to distinguish the terrorism practised by groups and individuals from the national resistance of peoples for liberation from occupation and colonialism.