Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)


  • Recently, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretariat “condemned and denounced” the comments on Prophet Muhammed made by two national spokespersons.

About Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

  • The OIC claims to be the “collective voice of the Muslim world”.
  • It was established at a 1969 summit in Rabat (Morocco) after what it describes as the ‘criminal arson’ of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

    Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
    Photo Credit: Wikipedia
  • The OIC, which was known as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference until 2011, is the second largest inter-governmental organisation in the world after the United Nations, with a membership of 57 countries spread across four continents.
    • The OIC has reserved its membership for Muslim-majority countries.
    • The Central African Republic, Russia, Thailand, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and the unrecognised Turkish Cypriot “state” have Observer status.
  • The OIC endeavours to establish solidarity among member states, support restoration of complete sovereignty and territorial integrity of any member state under occupation; protect, defend and combat defamation of Islam, prevent growing dissention in Muslim societies and work to ensure that member states take a united stand at the U. N. General Assembly, Human Rights Council and other international fora.
  • The OIC has consultative and cooperative relations with U. N. and other inter-governmental organisations to protect the interest of Muslims, and settle conflicts and disputes involving member states, among them being the territorial conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the status of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Presently based in Jeddah, the organisation plans to permanently move its headquarters to East Jerusalem once the disputed city is ‘liberated’.
  • Moreover, it aspires to hold Israel accountable for ‘war crimes’ and violations of international law.

OIC charter

  • All members be guided and inspired by the noble Islamic teachings and values alongside committing themselves to the purposes and principles of the U. N. charter.
  • Member states are expected to uphold and promote good governance, democracy, human rights, fundamental freedom and the rule of law — settling disputes through peaceful means and refrain from the use of threat or force.
  • The OIC carves out a Ten-Year Programme of Action. Last instituted for the decade ending 2025, the PoA calls for measures to combat all aspects of terrorism globally.
  • It also talks of implementing social schemes to eliminate two-thirds of extreme poverty and spurring industrialisation, investment, trade and overall economic and social growth among member states.

How does OIC function?

  • U. N. members with a Muslim majority can join the organisation.
  • The membership is to be ratified with full consensus at the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers.
  • The same provisions apply for acquiring an observer status.
  • All decision-making in the forum requires a quorum defined by the presence of two-thirds of the member states and complete consensus.
  • In case a consensus cannot be reached, decisions shall be made by a two-thirds majority of members present and voting.
  • The OIC is financed by the member states proportionate to their national incomes. 
  • Should a member fail to meet their obligations such that the amount of arrears equals or exceeds the amount of contributions due from it for the preceding two years, their voting rights are suspended. The member is only allowed to vote if the Council of Foreign Ministers is satisfied that the failure is due to conditions beyond the member’s control.
  • The Islamic Summit, composed of Kings and heads of state, is the supreme authority of the organisation.
    • Convening every three years, it deliberates, takes policy decisions, provides guidance on issues relevant to the organisation and considers issues of concern to the member states.
  • The Council of Foreign Ministers is the chief decision-making body and meets annually to decide on how to implement the OIC’s general policies.
  • They take decisions and resolutions on matters of common interest, review their progress, consider and approve programmes and their budgets, consider specific issues bothering member states and recommend establishing a new organ or committee.
  • In addition, this council also appoints, for a period of five years, the Secretary General, who is the chief administrative officer of the grouping.
  • The Secretary General follows up on implementation of the decisions, directs attention to competent organs’ specific issues of concern, creates a channel for coordination among the varied organs and submits annual reports on the work undertaken.
  • The OIC also has standing committees for cooperation on information and cultural affairs, economic and commercial matters, scientific and technological initiatives and for Jerusalem.

Criticisms of the OIC

  • OIC had become a premise for ‘window dressing’, more interested in the rights of Muslim minorities in places such as Palestine or Myanmar than the human rights violations of its member states.
  • The body lacks power and resources to investigate human rights violations or enforce its decisions through signed treaties and declarations.
  • The organisation is largely restricted to arbitrating in conflicts where both parties are Muslims. This is because the organisation is centred around Quranic values, which, it believes, makes it a qualified arbitrator.
  • The OIC has failed to establish a cooperative venture among its members, who were either capital-rich and labour-scarce countries or manpower-rich and capital scarce. “…the organization has not evolved to become a significant player either in international politics or in the area of economic cooperation.

The OIC and India

  • As the country with the world’s second largest Muslim community, India had been invited to the founding conference at Rabat in 1969, but was humiliatingly ejected at Pakistan’s behest.
  • In 2006, with post-reforms India having come to occupy an important position in the world, Saudi Arabia invited New Delhi to join as an Observer. But India stayed away because of a multiplicity of reasons, not least because as a secular country, it did not want to join an organisation that was founded on the religious identity of nations.
  • Again, at the 45th session of the Foreign Ministers’ Summit in May 2018, Bangladesh, the host country, suggested that India, where more than 10% of the world’s Muslims live, should be given Observer status. But Pakistan opposed the proposal.
  • While the OIC is mainly controlled by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, as the only Islamic country with nuclear weapons, has had a powerful say in the organisation from the beginning.
  • In 2019, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), invited then Indian Foreign Minister to address the Inaugural Plenary of the 46th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Abu Dhabi as the “Guest of Honour”.


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