Islamic body calls for ‘early-warning system’ against religious discrimination

Arab World Materials 23 January 2013 14:38 (UTC +04:00)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has recommended the creation of an effective international mechanism that could act as an early-warning system against instances of discrimination and intolerance on religious grounds Hurriyetdailynews reported.

Speaking at a high-level international meeting in London on Jan. 22, Secretary General Ekmeleddin İhsanoglu proposed an international observatory, or at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), a United Nations agency that works to promote and protect human rights with a broad mandate to monitor and document all instances of discrimination and intolerance on religious grounds.

İhsanoglu will continue his meetings today upon the invitation of Sayeeda Warsi, Britain's minister of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, to develop a common understanding on the way forward on the issue of intolerance on religious grounds.

Global coverage

Although the OIC already has an observatory monitoring Islamophobia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has a mechanism to monitor hate crimes, İhsanoğlu said an international observatory with global coverage was needed to monitor intolerance and discrimination against all religions and their respective followers.

Such a mechanism would help develop an empirical basis to understand the extent of the problem, which in turn would figure into evolving an effective and concerted international response.

İhsanoglu also called for states to build on the consensus that went into U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 on combating intolerance on religious grounds and the Istanbul Process for implementing the resolution.

A recent meeting of lawyers and human rights practitioners in Istanbul agreed that the provisions of existing legal instruments, including articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), suffice in covering OIC's concerns, İhsanoğlu said, adding that according equal weight to the concerns on both sides could form a good point of departure for developing a common understanding.