- The Charter of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) commits its Member States to promoting international peace and security, understanding and dialogue among civilizations, cultures and religions and fostering noble Islamic values concerning moderation, tolerance and respect for diversity. The objectives and principles of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) aspire for an inter-state relationship based on justice, mutual respect and good neighbourliness to ensure global peace, security and harmony.
- The contemporary challenges faced by the international community are enormous as well as diverse and transnational. These challenges range from issues of national security, violent extremism, radicalization, terrorism to poverty alleviation, combating disease, environmental degradation, water, food security and alike.
Violent Extremism and Terrorism: The OIC Perspective
- The OIC has a principled position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomsoever and wherever and rejects all attempts to attribute it to any country, race, religion, culture or nationality. The OIC believes that violent extremism cannot be tackled by security or military means alone and that due attention, analysis and concrete plans of action must address the multifaceted dimensions of this phenomenon. Extremism grows within the context of an economic, social and political environment. It is essential that contexts that provide conducive conditions for the spread of terrorism and violent extremism such as historical injustices, occupation, deprivation, exclusion, discrimination, marginalization, forced disintegration of institutions, are addressed with equal vigour. Extremism flourishes when human rights are violated. Extremism generates violence and violence turns into terrorism.
- Currently, cyber platforms are increasingly being used by terrorist groups to spread hate messages and disseminate distorted and self-coined interpretations of the Holy Quran and Hadith; exploit socio-economic frustrations of the Muslim youth; recruit and train terrorists; spread war propaganda and terrorist ideology; and incite people against their governments among other things. Since legally and technically it is not always possible to censor all such activities on the internet, the only remedy to effectively counter this terrorist narrative is to use the same online communication and social media tools. The penetrating ability of the ‘soft power’ and its leverage to engage the minds of the extremists has, therefore, emerged as an effective tool in the battle of ideas.
Mandate and Scope of Work
- The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has consistently been at the forefront in the fight against terrorism and extremism through a series of initiatives making it one of the top priorities on its agenda. Cooperation in combating terrorism is among the key objectives and principles of the OIC Charter. The OIC was among the first to formulate a clear and principled position by adopting the Code of Conduct and the Convention on Combating International Terrorism in 1994 and 1999 respectively. Some other important pronouncement by the OIC fora include:
- The Final Communiqué adopted by the OIC Executive Committee Meeting on Combating Terrorism and Violent Extremism (Jeddah, 15 February 2015) emphasized the need to counter all types of radical extremist discourse in order to delegitimize the violent and manipulative acts committed in the name of religion, ideology or claims of cultural superiority. This was reaffirmed in the Resolution 41/42-POL adopted by the 42nd Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (Kuwait, 27-28 May 2015) which, inter alia, called upon “the Secretary General to work with Member States in order to take necessary and appropriate measures to prohibit incitement to all forms of terrorism, violence and extremism, especially through the media and cyberspace, including the consideration of setting up a mechanism to report the cases and incidents of incitement against Member States in order to address them firmly.”
- In Resolution 42/42-POL on crimes of Daesh, the Council of Foreign Ministers called for the imposition of stringent measures against social media sites being misused by foreign fighters and terrorists for incitement and terror and called for combating terrorist ideology which is not approved by divine law and international instruments.
- The OIC-2025: Programme of Action (adopted by the 13th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference, (Istanbul, 14-15 April 2016) is yet another important milestone and sets forth strategic goals that envision the OIC’s role as an effective agent for peace and development in the Muslim world and beyond. It focuses on 18 priority areas with 107 goals. These priority areas range from peace and security, violent extremism radicalization, terrorism, moderation, inter-cultural and inter-faith harmony to poverty alleviation, promoting good governance, food security, human rights, empowerment of women, youth and family welfare, among others. These areas have a critical role in any meaningful strategy for preventing violent extremism and combating terrorism and contribute in diffusing the thrust of the terrorist narratives.
- The OIC-2025 recognizes the need to improve utilization of ICT for countering the misuse of cyberspace for terrorism purposes including recruitment, financing and espionage. A proposal for setting up OIC Cyber Security Center is being processed separately. The OIC-2025 also calls for disseminating the correct message and information about Islam as a religion of peace and building bridges and encouraging consultations to promote mutual respect, tolerance and understanding.