STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY, AMBASSADOR ODEEN ISHMAEL, HEAD OF THE DELEGATION OF GUYANA, AT THE EIGHTH SUMMIT OF THE ORGANISATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE (OIC) Tehran, Iran C 9-11 December 1997
Mr. Chairman, Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Heads of States and Government, Distinguished Delegates...
The delegation of the Republic of Guyana is very pleased to be here in Teheran to attend the Eighth Summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. The Government of Iran is a most gracious host and its hospitality is undeniably warm.
On behalf of the President, the Government and all the people of the Republic of Guyana, I bring fraternal greetings and good wishes for a successful Summit meeting. His Excellency the President of Guyana is greatly disappointed that, because of national elections taking place next week, he could not come to Tehran for this important event. He has asked me to apologise to you for his absence.
Since this is the first Summit at which Guyana is represented, let me state that we are extremely honoured to have been accorded Observer Status with the Organisation. We will work with all the Organisation=s members and observers to fulfill the high purposes for which it was created. We believe that the OIC which comprises almost one third of the United Nations membership, can be of considerable influence in international affairs.
This Summit is an important landmark for the Organisation because the decisions which are taken now will guide it into the new millennium. The changing international environment continually presents challenges and the Organisation has to be ready to deal with them. It would be wise, therefore, to contemplate appropriate strategies for preserving our welfare.
As we prepare to meet the twenty-first century, solidarity and cooperation are important. They are important for consolidating our past successes and, by building upon them., will provide us with the stability and strength needed to pursue our goals.
My country shares many of the concerns which have been reflected by those distinguished representatives who have already spoken, and upon which deliberations will be focused.
We are greatly concerned with the dangerously volatile situation in the Middle East. In this strategic region, the threat to peace and security is ever present. Our Organisation must continue to work within the United Nations and elsewhere to ensure that the principles and purposes which it serves are fully recognised and respected. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of each state cannot be vilified by others. States must be left in peace to pursue their own path to development.
At the core of the problem of the Middle East is the question of Palestine. The peace process is being deliberately undermined and hopes for a just and lasting peace are threatened. As a member of the Standing Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People at the United Nations, Guyana firmly believes that without regard for these rights, peace will not prevail. We are committed to the preservation of the peace process and will cooperate with other members of this Organisation to achieve progress on this question. It is our hope that out of this Conference will come a strong message of support for the Palestinian cause.
Our Conference will also need to address other situations of conflict wherever they exist to ensure that all peoples, irrespective of their creed, colour and national origin, are guaranteed the right to live in peaceful co-existence. Racism and religious intolerance are evils which must be condemned and removed from every society. Th Islamic faith, to which the Conference subscribes, must be seen as a light by which all oppressed and suffering peoples may be guided to freedom.
As we have come to know only too well, the roots of oppression and suffering lie often in the poor economic and social conditions under which many of our brethren have to live. Unless these are alleviated, discontent will always breed, leading to misery and worse yet, to violence. We have an obligation to work together with the religious conviction that binds us, to reduce the wide gap which exists between the rich and poor, and between the developed and developing societies.
In this context, our late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan proposed the establishment of a New Global Human Order through which the peoples of the world can come together in full partnership to solve the problems of poverty and underdevelopment. This proposal calls on the world to declare a war against poverty and hunger if we are to arrest the convulsions, disorder, insecurity, political polarisation and instability that currently exist. The New Global Human Order, for which Guyana calls, envisages a replacement of the present world disorder with a new strategy aimed not only for peace but also for development.
Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, the time has come for us as a Conference to devise practical machinery by which the membership can actively pursue the twin aims of peace and development. Undoubtedly, our discussion of this item on the Agenda will generate ideas which may take us further in this direction.
In this glorious and inspiring city of Tehran, the Conference will find the necessary impetus towards fulfilling the many tasks which we have set for ourselves. You may be assured, Mr. Chairman, that Guyana will cooperate with you and all fraternal delegations to ensure the success of our deliberations.