What's in a name? A lot, said some delegates attending the 34th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) in the Pakistani capital.
While many of them are convinced that the name of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) along with its charter needs to be changed to make it sound more dynamic and modern, others say a name change will be merely cosmetic
"This name needs to be changed precisely because the current nomenclature gives one an impression that it is an organization that merely organizes conferences," said Muhammad S. Sharawi, a delegate from Kuwait. "It needs to convey a message that it is a very prestigious association that groups 57 nation states. It is a massive organization and the only representative body of Muslims," he said.
"But the name unfortunately never carried the weight."
"Yes, the OIC is the United Nations of Muslim states," said a Saudi Foreign Ministry official. "It is extremely important in the current situation. It is through this body that the Muslim world can articulate its opinion to the world at large. Not many people have been able to appreciate its importance," he said.
That view is shared by Malaysian and Iranian delegates as well.
"People expect instant results. Rightly or wrongly, they think the OIC is a platform for talking, talking and more talking. But these are difficult times. One has to realize that even UN has not been effective in the face of domineering policies of some countries but still we need such bodies. Or else we will have no platform to express our views," said a Malaysian journalist accompanying Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar.
He continued, "At the time of its institution in 1969 after the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque nobody realized then that the organization would have to play such a critical role and that it would become the only representative body of the Muslim world. Despite all its limitations, it is the need of the hour. We need to make the most of it and it has to change and change completely to meet the challenges of our times."
Muhammad Reza Mousavi, an Iranian delegate, is also convinced that the name should be changed, but he acknowledged that not everyone was on board with such a plan. There are some people who think there would be no gain from changing the OIC's name. "'This name is registered with all the world bodies, especially with the UN.' That is what they argue. I personally think the change if it happens will be merely cosmetic," he said.
"What is required is the real change in charter," said Turkish media delegate Ayub Yocksen. "The OIC secretary-general needs to be given more powers to execute and implement changes. Here is a man who is a historian and has given the organization a new direction. He needs more power. The organization needs more money, more resources. The member states needs to commit themselves to the organization. And when this commitment is monetary in nature it will make the member states take more interest in the affairs of the organization. This is something that is missing at the moment."
Among the OIC countries, Malaysia, the current chair, has been among the staunch supporters of reforming the pan-Muslim body. Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar always maintained that the OIC cannot remain just a political umbrella and needs to activate economic cooperation and integration among member states.
According to him, the OIC has to be updated. "We are moving into a world of globalization, we are moving into a world that is full of liberalization of markets, of economies, and the OIC can't remain just purely a political body. There are a lot of advantages by working together for our economic wellbeing and benefits. So I think in this direction, the OIC has to be revitalized, has to be restructured in order to meet the new challenges of the 21st century. And that is what is taking place here in Islamabad."
On the changing the organization's name, Albar said: "Not just the name change; Muslims must look within. In order for you to change you must look at yourself. If we look at ourselves critically, only then we will be able to change."
Last Mod: 21 Mayıs 2007, 17:02