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RP nears observer status in OIC -- DFA

By Cynthia Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:48:00 05/26/2009

Filed Under: rebellion, Armed conflict, Diplomacy, Treaties & International Organisations

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines now has the ?overwhelming support? of members of the influential Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in its bid for an observer status, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign undersecretary for special concerns Rafael Seguis said on Tuesday that none of the OIC member-countries objected to the Philippines' admission as observer during the 36th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) held in Damascus, Syria last May 23-25.

Seguis, who is also Philippine envoy to the OIC, said it was agreed during the meeting that the criteria for the approval of new observers should be finalized first before members admit additional countries as observers.

He said that had the criteria for observers been adopted, the Philippines would have been granted the observer seat immediately during the 36th CFM.

The Philippines applied for observer status in the OIC in 2003. However, it was only during the 36th CFM that its application was discussed by the Islamic organization for the first time, upon the initiative of supportive OIC member states.

Citing the Philippine government?s conscientious cooperation with the OIC, which led to the signing of a peace agreement with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996 , Indonesia?s Foreign Minister Nur Hassan Wirajuda proposed during the plenary session that the Philippines be granted observer status, adding that the expected decision has been long overdue.

In their plenary statements, Malaysia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates supported Indonesia?s proposal.

Other countries that expressed strong support to Philippines? observer bid were Syria, the host and chairman of the 36th CFM; Egypt; Saudi Arabia; Pakistan; Morocco; Libya; Bahrain; Kuwait; Jordan; Oman; Iraq; Turkey; Uganda; Bangladesh; and Brunei Darussalam.

As a result of the insistence of OIC member states for the Philippines? immediate admission, the council adopted in the report of the 36th CFM the following recommendations:

* That the OIC General Secretariat prepare a proposal on the criteria of observer status for states in accordance with the OIC Charter;

* That the proposal be submitted to an expert group meeting preparatory to the 37th Session of the CFM; and

* That the 37th CFM Meeting shall consider these proposals.

The new charter of the OIC, adopted in Senegal in March 2008 during the 11th Islamic Summit, provides that observers may be admitted based on consensus and on criteria approved by the foreign ministers of the OIC member states.

The 37th CFM is scheduled to be held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in 2010.



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