OIC: from Ceremonial Politics towards Politicization?
in Silja Harders & Matteo Legrenzi, eds., Beyond Regionalism? Regional Cooperation, Regionalism and Regionalisation in the Middle East (London: Ashgate, May 2008), pp 125-138
Recent years have seen the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) transform from a ceremonial international institution to one willing to reform and assert itself in global economy and politics. In December 2005, the leaders of 57 OIC Muslim member-countries agreed to wide-ranging reforms of the organization at an extraordinary Islamic Summit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. A number of internal and external factors have necessitated such reforms, including the domestic challenge from Muslim extremism, the US/Western pressure, Muslim ruling elites’ realization about the urgency of reforms, and the assertion of non-Arab Muslim countries in OIC affairs. Some recent practical instances of the OIC’s economic and political assertion at the international stage are additional indicators of change. No doubt the OIC has a disappointing track-record in realizing its past objectives. It has traditionally preferred rhetorical declarations to realistic action in world affairs. At present, however, owing to the above factors—which emanate essentially from the qualitatively changed global circumstances in the aftermath of the terrorist events of 11 September 2001—the OIC leadership seems willing to opt for a more pragmatic and cooperative path to help revamp the socio-economic situation in the Muslim world, and harmonize its ties with the non-Muslim world, particularly the US/West. The recourse to political pragmatism, and a regionalism based on common Muslim identity, assisted by the forces of globalization, could help the OIC re-chart the political and economic course of the Muslim world. Full Text

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