Jeddah: A Danish researcher recently
published a report on the world’s first Muslim human rights
commission: the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission
established by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The report by Marie Juul Petersen, a researcher at the Danish
Institute for International Studies, is published on the website
of the UK-registered non-profit foundation OpenDemocracy (www.opendemocracy.net).
While Petersen points to a few limitations of the Commission and
the challenges, from her perspective, after a thorough study of
the Commission’s statutes and mandates, she praises the initiative
as an important part of OIC reform process. She does not fail to
connect the significance of establishing the Commission with the
sea of change taking place as a result of the “Arab Spring” of
people demanding welfare, democracy and rights.
Petersen considers the establishment of the Commission as a
product of a strong political will on the part of the OIC member
states to create a human rights mechanism. The Commission, she
states, will create a much-needed forum for internal criticism and
introspection, and it will be a vehicle for stronger relations
between the OIC and civil society.
Petersen concludes by stating that the future of the Commission
will not only depend on the Commission’s 18 expert members, OIC
member states and civil society organizations, but also on the
international community and its will to get involved with the
The OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu had summarized in
his opening remarks at the Commission’s brainstorming meeting held
in December in preparations for their first formal meeting, the task
of the Commission to removing the misperceptions regarding the
interface between Islam and Human Rights.
He emphasized five
points: complementarity of the Commission’s tasks to the work of
existing human rights organizations (value added), introspection
(remedial not judgmental), prioritization, incremental and
progressive approach, and credibility both within and outside the
He considered ascertaining credibility as perhaps the most crucial
and urgent task.
The Commission will hold its first formal session in Indonesia in