Position Paper for Organisation of the Islamic Conference
The State of Qatar is pleased to meet the other countries of the Muslim community in order to strengthen Islamic solidarity among Member States in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Qatar looks forward to discussing these important issues which are the cornerstones of a peaceful society facing the challenges of the 21 century. The topics before the Organisation of the Islamic Conference are: The Establishment of Islamic Centres for Education and Professional Training in War-torn Areas; Economic Development to Combat Poverty in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT); and Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims.
I. The Establishment of Islamic Centers for Education and Professional Training in War-torn Areas
The State of Qatar believes devoutly that every child has the right to receive an extensive and high-quality education. As a signatory of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (A/CONF.157/PC/62/Add.18) (CDHRI) and the Covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam (OIC/9-IGGE/HRI/2004/Rep.Final) the State of Qatar strongly supports the idea „to provide free, compulsory primary and secondary education for all children irrespective of gender, color, nationality, religion, birth, or any other consideration, to develop education through enhancement of school curricula, training of teachers, and providing opportunities for vocational training.“
We as a Muslim community should particularly focus on the educational situation in rural and war-torn areas. Therefore the State of Qatar supports the OIC programs in Indonesia to promote education in isolated provinces and in Afghanistan to establish an Islamic Centre in the Kapsia Province including education and professional training. Another issue which deserves our closer attention is the educational progress in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Due to the latest military invasion in Gaza the situation there changed to the worse. Quoting H.H. Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned of Qatar during her speech on the Opening Session of the Thematic and Interactive Debate on Education in Emergencies held at the General Assembly in March 2009: „Our collective aim is to preserve and protect the sacred cause of education in all its aspects, in accordance with the rules and foundations of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And because we believe in the value of life and appreciate the culture of peace, we have a duty to save our children from frustration and despair. “
Referring to our national initiative Education for a New Era Qatar is willing to support any effort which leads to a high-quality and competitive education system in the Muslim community with common standards and curriculums including the respect for our Islamic values and cultural heritage. Due to our national experience the State of Qatar supports the establishment of private educational institutions of various kinds and provides continuous support in legal and supervision aspects. It is our national interest to benefit from modern and technological achievements and new educational experiments and to involve both males and females at all educational levels up to the university level. The aim for all our brother states in the OIC should be to provide the best educational programs for our sons and daughters in order to prepare them to meet the requirements of the economic and social development process of the future. The Delegation of Qatar suggests that we have to deepen our discussion concerning this important issue and that our efforts must culminate in an international conference which Doha is willing to host, and where all the results and conclusions can be presented.
II. Economic Development to Combat Poverty in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)
The Charter of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference is the basis for all OIC Member States. The states made it their matter of principle “to support the struggle of the Palestinian people, who are presently under foreign occupation, and to empower them to attain their inalienable rights, including the right to selfdetermination, and to establish their sovereign state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, while safeguarding its historic and Islamic character, and the holy places therein”. This statement implicates that all the countries of the OIC try to find a peaceful solution for the ongoing attacks and sieges by the Israeli militia. Another crucial issue is to combat poverty of the Palestinian people through economic development and by rebuilding basic infrastructure. The achievement of these goals paves the way “for the creation of a sovereign, democratic and viable Palestinian State, existing side by side with Israel in peace and security” as H.E. Jamal Nasser Al-Bader, Ambassador of Qatar, quoted Security Council’s announcement on 17 April 2006.
The State of Qatar being a passionate member of the United Nations since September 1971 and of the OIC since 1972 devoted itself to help the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom and against the occupation of their territory. The assistance to rebuild their country after the long-lasting war-like periods is also of utmost importance for the Delegation of Qatar. According to resolution A/RES/33/147 adopted in 1978 Qatar welcomes the establishment of the special United Nations Development Programme named Programme of Assistance of the Palestinian People (PAPP). The Delegation of Qatar demonstrates its unreserved support to these initiatives, also by means of financial resources through the Islamic Development Bank. This program focuses on the topics of Democratic Governance; Poverty Reduction; Crisis Prevention and Recovery; Energy and Environmental Policy; Information and Communications Technology; and on Economic Development. In this way the expansion and improvement of basic infrastructure becomes an important aim of the PAPP as these are key requirements for sustainable economic and social development in the OPT. Quoting the World Bank Report of June 2009 Palestinian Economic Prospects: Gaza Recovery and West Bank Revival there are pledges of the countries participating in the Sharm el-Sheikh Conference to support “the recovery of Gaza and the support of the entire Palestinian economy”. Some countries could not keep their pledges to date. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for the State of Qatar to fulfill its own pledges as soon as possible. Another solution for the poverty in the OPT is the investment in education. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs defines education as a way of leading the people out of poverty to “prepare them to meet the needs of economic and social development”. This is the reason why the State of Qatar supports the Palestinian educational system.
Supporting the United Nations programs as well as our national initiatives, the State of Qatar tries to guarantee the best support possible for the struggled Palestinian people. Therefore, the Delegation of Qatar looks forward to the fruitful discussions with our brother states and urges to find a solution for the problems the Palestinian people have to face.
III. Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims
The continuing fight against all kinds of discrimination refers to the basic values of the United Nations and has a long historic tradition. One of the great milestones in the history of human rights was the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) through a proclamation by the General Assembly on December 10, 1948. In Article 7 of the UDHR it says: „All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination“. The State of Qatar strongly believes in these principle values. In addition to that, the Foreign Minister of Qatar and his counterparts from 44 Member States of the OIC adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI) during the Nineteenth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in 1990. The CDHRI means not to be an alternative but a complement of the UDHR appending the specific values of the Ummah (Muslim community) and will serve as a general guidance for member states in the field of human rights.
In accordance with resolution A/RES/61/164, the State of Qatar affirms its conviction that combating defamation of religions is indispensable in order to strengthen the mutual respect for cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity. Referring to the Second OIC Observatory Report on Islamophobia issued at the 36th Council of Foreign Ministers in May 2009 in Damascus, Qatar is heavily concerned about the increasing Islamophobic incidents and activities against Muslim Individuals in several countries. Several scientific studies indicate September 11 as one the main causes for the rise of the unjustified Islamophia in the western world. The State of Qatar recognizes this fact and wants to ensure that there is no conceptual intermixture in the public discussion between Islam as a faith and Islamic fundamentalism as a destructive ideology. H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, underlined the importance of this issue during his speech at the opening session of the US-Islamic World Forum in Doha in 2007: “We have rejected the theory […] of considering the Islamic civilization the most dangerous threat to the heart of modern civilization represented by the West“.
The State of Qatar fully endorses resolution A/HRC/9/G/2 and urges the western states to take adequate measures against the rising threat of intolerance and discrimination against Muslims. Due to the fact that one third of all Muslims are living in non-Muslim states as minorities, the Delegation of Qatar classifies the issue of Islamophobia as one of the majors challenges of the Ummah and is looking forward to play an active role during the negotiations and would highly welcome that there will be found a satisfying agreement amongst the other Muslim countries.