By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- The two-only Latin American and Caribbean members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Suriname and Guyana, will participate in the upcoming OIC 41st foreign ministers meeting (CFM) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from 18-19 June 2014.
The foreign minister of Guyana, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, will be represented at the meeting by Irfan Ali, minister of housing, water and tourism, who will deliver an address to the gathering on behalf of Rodrigues-Birkett.
Suriname will also attend the meeting but the name of the delegate hasn’t been disclosed yet. The foreign minister of Suriname, Winston Lackin, will not be travelling to Jeddah himself. It is confirmed that he will travel to Kenya next week to attend the ACP/EU ministerial meeting from June 18-20.
A wide range of issues of interest to member states will be discussed by the Council leading to the adoption of resolutions on various issues, including the cause of Palestine and the Middle East; political affairs; ten-year programme of action; statutory, organic and general matters; legal affairs; conditions of Muslim minorities and communities in non-OIC member states; information affairs; administrative and financial affairs; humanitarian affairs; economic, science and technology, cultural, social, and family affairs.
The secretary general of the OIC, Iyad Madani, wants to focus the meeting on war and extremism that is plaguing the Muslim world. Syria, Palestine and the current crisis in Iraq will continue to dominate the agenda but many member states also want to address economic, political and social issues plaguing the Arab/Islamic Umma such as poverty, and economic development.
Some of the world’s poorest countries are members of the OIC. Many OIC states suffer from poverty and high illiteracy. The OIC and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is putting resources in place to address poverty. This led to the creation of the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development and the adoption of the OIC’s ten-year plan to address the issues of poverty especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In an interview recently with Arab News, vice president of the IsDB, Ahmet Tick Tick, said, “Social dimension is one of our pillars of operation, and we are supporting their education system and health, and contributing to develop infrastructure and funds -- Islamic funds -- which are targeted to reach $10 billion.”
“We have mobilized up to $2.3 billion so far to alleviate poverty in member countries,” said Ahmet Tick Tick, who wears two hats -- one working for the IDB and the other in his capacity as the ambassador of the OIC.
“Every year, we hold a youth conference to better understand them and their problems. This year also we will celebrate youth entrepreneurship where several players will be invited from all over the world,” he said.
This is another social initiative, he said, adding that the bank has been helping Muslims all over the world for the past 40 years to preserve their culture and identity. For the development of its member countries, the bank not only provides finance but also assists them in capacity building, he said. “We are giving assistance to schools and health centers, particularly nursing centers, in more than 60 countries, which are not only members of the IDB but also of the OIC.”
Guyana and Saudi Arabia have recently expanded ties. The two countries will soon appoint honourary consuls in their respective capitals. Saudi Arabia is sending a team of investors to Guyana explore investment opportunities in Guyana. Guyana is also looking to join the Saudi-based Islamic Bank.
Suriname is a member of the IsDB. More recently, the IsDB, because of the initiative of the Bouterse government, has taken an active role in the socio-economic development of Suriname. For many years skeptics in the previous government kept the OIC and IsDB at arm’s length.