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Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
12 November 2005
OIC Secretary General calls for improved performance
by the Muslim world on children matters
The First Islamic Conference of Ministers of Children Affairs held in Rabat from 7-9 November 2005 has ended with the issuance of an important declaration containing many recommendations, which are aimed at improving the conditions of children in the Muslim world, especially in the areas of health, education, protection against violence and exploitation.
The OIC Secretary General Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu addressed the Conference opening session with an exhaustive speech in which he stated that the First Islamic Conference on the condition of children in the Muslim world was being held amidst unprecedented challenges, whose impacts do not leave out children. He added that the joint report submitted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (ISESCO) and the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) titled: "Investing in the Children of the Muslim World" reflects the enormity of the challenges presented by rising children mortality in the Muslim world due to armed conflicts, spread of diseases, natural disasters, the economic fallouts of globalization, poverty and malnutrition, all of which impact negatively on the capabilities of the Member States to provide adequate social services for children.
Professor Ihsanoglu emphasized that the Islamic values attach great consideration to children's higher interests within the fold of the family, which is the first block in society building and that the Islamic sharia guarantees the full rights of children. The Secretary General also referred to the importance for the Islamic states to abide by their international commitments to improve children's conditions and the need to develop and implement OIC resolutions on the welfare and protection of the child. In this regard, he called on all Member States to sign and ratify the Covenant on the Right of the Child in Islam, which was adopted by the 32
Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Sana'a, the Yemeni capital, last June.
Professor Ihsanoglu restated the determination of the OIC, as part of its new vision, to promote joint Islamic action and reform, as well as to order its priorities to achieve human development of Member States, the majority of whose population is children. The issues of education and eradicating illiteracy, vaccination and combating diseases, he said, top the list of these priorities. He also commended in this regard the efforts of the OIC in assisting children victims of the tsunami and putting in place a comprehensive programme to sponsor children orphaned by the disaster as well as other efforts to assist the victims of the earthquake in Pakistan, most of whom were also children.
On another level, the Secretary General stated that the tragic conditions of the children in the occupied Arab land in Palestinian require that the international community move quickly to correct this situation.
Closing his speech to the Conference, the Secretary General lauded the cooperation between the OIC and UNICEF and affirmed the OIC's readiness to develop relations with the United Nations and its specialized agencies in all areas of joint cooperation. He also commended the efforts by ISESCO to organize the Conference, pointing to the importance of continuing this international cooperation to the joint benefit of the Islamic Ummah and the international community.
Separately, the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Mrs Reemah Salah, addressed the Conference and expressed the optimism in UNICEF about the efforts of the OIC Secretary General to renew and revitalize the Organization. She expressed the hope that these efforts would be crowned with practical initiatives in the interest of children so as to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Speaking at the opening session, the Director General of ISESCO, Dr Abdulazeez Othman Al-Tuwaijri commended the joint efforts of the OIC General Secretariat and ISESCO towards the important Conference.
The Conference was also addressed by Mr Terry Davis, the Secretary General of the European Council. In his speech, Mr Davis stated that he was participating in the Conference at the invitation of the OIC Secretary General. He stressed the readiness of European Council to cooperate with the OIC General Secretariat on all areas of common interest in the light of the agreement reached during the OIC Secretary General's visit to the European Union in Strasbourg last October.
The Secretary General held a joint press conference with the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Mrs Reemah Salah, in which he commended the assistance provided by Islamic states to victims of the recent earthquake in Pakistan. He directed an urgent call to Islamic States to intensify their efforts to extend more humanitarian assistance, considering the magnitude of the disaster. For her part, Mrs Salah renewed the commitment of UNICEF to mobilize more resources to assist Pakistan overcome the difficulties. She also lauded the efforts of the Islamic States in this regard.
On the sidelines of the Conference, the Secretary General held a number of bilateral meetings with participating ministers, with focus on the Conference agenda and on the need to intensify efforts to improve the condition of children in the Muslim world.
The Secretary General also held media meetings covering the United Nations radio and television, the Moroccan television, the French News Agency and the Saudi News Agency.
Jeddah, 12 November 2005