Research Intern at Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad
From the very outset, building friendly relations with the Muslim world is one of the basic objectives of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy. After the restoration of its independence, OIC was one of the first International organizations for which Azerbaijan applied to become a member. At the 5th Conference of the Heads of State and Governments held on December 8th, 1991 in Dakar (Senegal), Azerbaijan was given full membership of the organization. Since then, it enjoys good working relations with the organization as a key member. Delegations of Azerbaijan are participating in different meetings and sessions of the OIC regularly. On August 24, 2019, Azerbaijan hosted the Secretary-General of the OIC, Yusif bin Ahmed Al-Osaymi, who was on a working visit to Azerbaijan. During his visit, the Secretary-General acknowledged that Azerbaijan is a very important member of the OIC and underlined its importance and contributions to the Islamic solidarity in the Muslim world and its efforts for strengthening global peace and security.
Organization of Islamic
On September 25, 1969, heads of the Muslim world states came together at Rabat (Morocco) and established an Organization of the Islamic Conference (now-called Organization of Islamic Cooperation – OIC). In the meeting, the leaders of the Islamic states committed to hold negotiations, consultations, and cooperation in economic, cultural, scientific, and other sectors to resolve the problems that arise among them in the light of the goals and principles of the United Nations. The OIC is closely collaborating with the UN and holds an observer status under the UN since 1975.
Azerbaijan as Member of OIC
Since its admission to the OIC, Azerbaijan has remained an active member of the organization by taking part in different activities to promote multilateralism and bring harmony among the member states. Azerbaijan is cooperating with various bodies of the OIC; it includes the Islamic Development Bank, Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), OIC Labor Center, and Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum. In this regard, Heydar Aliyev Foundation is an important tool of Azerbaijan in Cooperating and maintaining a strong bond with many OIC Bodies. Moreover, Azerbaijan is a major partner of OIC in several fields including Attention to the Children in Need, support to the work in the Islamic world, cross cultural activities, and promoting the role of women, etc.
Role of Heydar Aliyev
Foundation in Cooperation with OIC
The role of President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and First Lady of Azerbaijan, Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva is highly appreciated and recognized by the OIC. Her efforts and activities brought a strong integration and Cooperation between Azerbaijan and other bodies of the OIC. In the light of her efforts and work with the OIC, the Director-General of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) appointed her as a Goodwill Ambassador of the ISESCO on 26th November 2006. Later, during the International Forum on ‘Expanding Role of Woman in Cross Culture Dialog’, held in Baku on 10-11 June 2008, she participated as a special envoy for OIC Humanitarian Efforts in the honor of her efforts in Humanitarian field with OIC. Furthermore, the activities of Ms. Leyla Aliyeva, Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and General Coordinator for intercultural dialogue of the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for dialogue and cooperation are also significant examples of Azerbaijan’s constructive role as a member of OIC. The “Justice for Khojaly” international awareness campaign launched in 2009 by her initiative is being implemented in more than 50 countries. As an outcome of the campaign, several parliaments around the globe, as well as the OIC Foreign Ministers Council and the OIC Parliamentary Union, have recognized the Khojaly massacre as a “Genocide Act” and “Crime Against Humanity”. In addition, from 19 to 21 June 2006, Azerbaijan hosted the 33rd OIC Foreign Ministers Conference and on June 10–11, 2008, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation conducted the International Forum on “Expanding the Role of Women in Cross-Cultural Dialogue” in Baku. On 22–23 November 2011, the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (ICYF-DC), Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and Azerbaijani Government organized the Founding Convention of the OIC Countries Young Entrepreneurs Network in Baku. ICYEN is a collaborative initiative to create a platform for young Muslim entrepreneurs of the OIC member states.
Contribution to the OIC
Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum
The OIC Islamic Youth forum (now the Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum) was formed on the proposal of Azerbaijan. In this body of the OIC, Azerbaijan is a major actor and has a big role in the activities of this forum for the youth of the Muslim world. Moreover, the OIC Eurasian Regional Center and OIC Labor Center was also established on the suggestion of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Eurasian Regional Center was founded in 2010 and it operates in Baku.
OIC Labor Center
The establishment of OIC Labor Center was suggested by the President of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev at the OIC Labor Ministers Conference held in Baku on April 25-26, 2013. The meeting adopted the Framework Document, which identifies future priorities for member states in the areas of labor, migration, workforce, exchange of experience, and social protection. This was one of the most significant decisions made at the conference. On that occasion, the Republic of Azerbaijan offered its readiness to host the OIC Labor Center and pledged to provide all possible assistance for the successful and active operation of the Center. Azerbaijan’s proposed OIC Labor Center is in the process and almost in the stage of ratification by the member states.
Azerbaijan Role in Strengthening
Relations between the UN and OIC
The meeting on ‘Strengthening relations between the UN and OIC’ was also initiated by Azerbaijan. The historic meeting was convened during the Azerbaijan’s presidency in the UN Security Council on 28th October 2013. It was the very first initiative in history aimed to review the current state of cooperation between the United Nations and OIC on peace and security. The meeting objective was to further and strengthen partnership relations between the United Nations and the OIC.
Azerbaijan and the OIC
Azerbaijan also plays an important and constructive role in the OIC Parliamentary Union (Islamic Conference of Parliamentary Union). In 2010, with the efforts of Azerbaijan, the body adopted a resolution on the aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan and showed sympathy with the victims of the Khojaly Genocide in 1992. The resolution was submitted by the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Games (Baku), Educational
scholarships to OIC Member States
In 2017, Azerbaijan hosted the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games. In the same year, Islamic solidarity year was proclaimed in Azerbaijan and various events were conducted across the country. Besides, Azerbaijan granted scholarships to the students of OIC member states to provide the opportunity to get qualitative education in the leading universities of Azerbaijan.
In conclusion, Azerbaijan has been playing a useful role in cooperation with different OIC bodies right from the inception of its membership. The cooperative and vibrant role of Azerbaijan has widely been recognized by the OIC on different occasions. Azerbaijan is committed to continuing cooperation with the Muslim world to bring harmony, solidarity, and prosperity through mutual efforts and to fulfill the objectives of the OIC in a true spirit. In short, the contribution of Azerbaijan cannot be ignored while discussing the role of OIC for the Muslim world.