Muslim Aid Media Centre

Muslim Aid Calls for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to be given Permanent Representation on the UN

At the fifth meeting of the OIC civil society organisations held in Istanbul from 14-15 December 2013, the CEO of Muslim Aid called for opening the existing consultative and policy making mechanism the international humanitarian system to Muslim humanitarian organisations represented by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). 

The Conference was hosted by IHH Turkey and was addressed, among others, by the Minister of Development of Turkey, Hon Cevdet Yilmaz and the out-going Secretary-General of the OIC, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. Speaking on the topic of complex emergencies, Muslim Aid CEO, Mr Syed Sharfuddin, made the following specific recommendations:

  1. Muslim humanitarian NGOs have started to play a consultative role in policy making and standard setting in the present humanitarian system. However, this role is not yet formalised. We recommend that the OIC Humanitarian Affairs Department (ICHAD) secure a permanent representation on the membership of the Inter-Agency Steering Committee (IASC) in Geneva on behalf of its partner humanitarian organisations.

  2. There is already close coordination between Humanitarian Agencies and UN-OCHA. We suggest that there should also be close cooperation between humanitarian agencies and the UN Peace-Keeping Operations in conflict countries. The 2003 MCDA Guidelines on the use of military and civil defense assets to support United Nations humanitarian activities in complex emergencies, as well as the re-launched Oslo Guidelines for NGOs in disaster relief, agreed in 2006 should be reviewed to include the new terms of reference for such cooperation between NGOs and UN Peacekeepers.

  3. NATO and other states contributing to peace making should be urged to invite and receive inputs from the OIC and other Muslim humanitarian organisations providing relief in the concerned conflict countries to ensure that a holistic approach is adopted in their strategic and operational plans for stabilisation, humanitarian relief, recovery and development.

  4. Governments should be urged to commit at least 25% of their total humanitarian aid budgets to the UN Emergency Response Fund and the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) to support the work of relief organisations. In the present arrangement, small NGOs which are transparent, accountable and efficient with the use of public funds get sidelined in favour of large NGOs which may have an impressive track record but which may not necessarily be effective in conflict situations. Muslim NGOs should join the networks of humanitarian forums in other regions such as the Start Fund in the UK to share experiences in rapid response, relief objectives, delivery of projects, impact, learning, humanitarian accountability and transparency.

  5. Countries must commit themselves to allow free access to humanitarian NGOs to take relief to victims of disasters where help is required, provided the concerned NGOs have verifiable accountability frameworks and meet the IFRC criteria of neutrality, impartiality, independence and humanity in the delivery of services.

  6. The OIC Humanitarian Affairs Department should appoint a Special Envoy to organise national consultations with OIC member states and humanitarian NGOs with a view to providing meaningful inputs to the 2016 UN Humantiarian Summit. The OIC should ask for a Global Compact on a New International Humanitarian Order and contribute to the drafting and implementation of a Plan of Action on humanitarian activities in the delivery of post-Summit mandates. 

    The Conference was attended by over 100 humanitarian actors from Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. On behalf of the Conference, 10 humanitarian organisations presented a farewell gift to the OIC Secretary-General, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, as a token of their deep appreciation for establishing the humanitarian assistance department in the OIC Secretariat in 2005 after resuming his office as Secretary-General 9 years ago. Since its establishment, 230 humanitarian organisations have taken membership of the OIC Humanitarian Forum, including Muslim Aid UK.

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