The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), of which the Maldives is a member, held its first Member States Conference on Mediation in Istanbul on Tuesday, in which Turkey called on member states to be more involved in mediation efforts to resolve conflicts and promote peace in the Islamic world.
OIC is an international organization, with 57 member states, that works to protect the interests of Muslims worldwide and promote peace. Its first member states conference on mediation was organised by Turkey, the current chair of the Summit and OIC’s Executive Committee, in conjunction with the OIC General Secretariat.
Themed “Surge in Mediation: The Role of the OIC”, the conference was inaugurated by Ambassador Ahmet Yildiz, the deputy minister of the Turkish foreign ministry, and Ambassador Abdallah Alim, the assistant secretary general of the OIC for political affairs.
The conferenced focused on using mediation as a peaceful means of resolving conflicts and sustaining peace around the world. In his inauguration speech, Yildiz expressed hopes that the conference will boost efforts to push forward the mediation agenda.
Referring to the “Humanitarian Crises in OIC Countries” report compiled by SESRIC in February this year, Yildiz highlighted that 30 of 50 conflicts recorded worldwide in 2015 occurred in OIC countries. He quoted from the report, “As a direct outcome, today OIC countries account for 61.5% of all displaced population in the world….Moreover, 71% of people who globally require humanitarian assistance reside in OIC countries.”
In order to combat these conflicts and challenges, Yildiz called on the member states to come together in the “true spirit of Islamic solidarity and cooperation”.
“Mediation is the right tool to [establish peace and stability],” he said, highlighting that it is encouraged in both the Islamic holy book of Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Political will and capacity
Shedding light on the civil unrest that is strife across countries in the Middle East, Yildiz declared that "building political will by building capacity" is Turkey's proposed solution.
“Turkey’s efforts at global and regional levels is a case in point. We help raise awareness, help build capacity, help develop normative and methodological thinking and basis, and increasingly we will help practical application of mediation.”
He elaborated that the UN and several other international bodies have established “Mediation Support Units” to assist mediation between contenders. Declaring Turkey’s support for strengthening these efforts, he urged the OIC to provide mediation support to member states that seek it.
Mediation initiatives at the UN and OSCE
Yildiz also highlighted that Turkey had launched the “Mediation for Peace Initiative” at the UN and later at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Turkey now co-chairs two “Groups of Friends of Mediation” in the two organisations, which have carried forward mediation efforts globally.
Listing some of the successful endeavours of the Groups, Yildiz proudly noted that OIC is one 56 members of the UN Group.
“Yet, only 11 OIC member states, including Turkey, are members of this Group. I call on other OIC members, as well, to join the UN Group of Friends of Mediation,” he urged.
“Mediation for peace” over “mediation for conflict-resolution”
Yildiz further noted that Turkey hosts the annual Istanbul Conferences on Mediation, which was founded to seek a broader perspective and comprehensive approach regarding the use of mediation.
“This comprehensive approach calls for "mediation for sustaining peace", as opposed to a more limited understanding of "mediation for conflict-resolution",” he said and explained that, in accordance with the approach, mediation should be used at all stages including pre-conflict and post-conflict.
Yildiz, who was a diplomat in Damascus and Iraq, also stressed the extensive suffering of the people caught in the civil wars of Syria and Iraq. He declared that such conflicts could still be averted and called on the OIC to establish the capacity to end unrest and establish peace.
“Peaceful prevention and resolution of conflicts require political will, but also a capacity and a method,” he declared.
“As Turkey and as the Chair of the OIC Summit, we call upon the OIC and all its Member States to play a more visible and active role in mediation efforts and help build awareness and capacity.”