STATEMENT BY HON. DR. KAREN CUMMINGS, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AT THE ANNUAL COORDINATION MEETING OF OIC UNGA 74 – FRIDAY, 27 SEPTEMBER 2019

Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies,

I am delighted to be able to join you at the Annual Coordination Meeting of the OIC for the first time since my appointment as Foreign Minister of Guyana.

This year’s meeting affords us the opportunity to recommit to the principles set out in the Charter – the promotion of peace, justice, human dignity and fundamental freedoms and the consolidation of unity and solidarity among Member States as we pursue our common goals in the international arena.

At the regional level, dialogue remains essential in order to foster mutual understanding, cooperation and partnerships. At the national level, emphasis should be placed on intercultural and interreligious dialogue and cooperation in order to discourage negative stereotyping of people on the basis of religion, faith or race.

The promotion of sustainable development and poverty eradication must be at the center of our national plans. In Guyana, our Green State Development Strategy focuses on the sustainable use of our rich biodiversity and our agricultural and mineral resources in a way that is aligned with the 2030 Agenda.

As Member States of the OIC, we have all regarded as a priority the safeguarding of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our countries. Since our independence in 1966, Guyana has spared no effort in striving to defend its territorial integrity against the spurious claim by Venezuela to over two thirds of our country in complete disregard for the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award which settled the land boundary of our two countries; an Award that Venezuela had accepted for over sixty years. This matter is now before the International Court of Justice and Guyana welcomes the prospect of a final and binding decision by the Court that will definitively resolve this longstanding controversy.

The multiple challenges facing the Islamic world continue unabated. Guyana remains deeply concerned about the plight of the Palestinian refugees and the difficulties facing UNRWA. Guyana will continue to contribute to its funding as long as the need exists. The Agency’s services are crucial to maintaining the human dignity of the refugees and alleviating their suffering.  At the same time, we must continue to encourage the parties to engage in respectful dialogue with a view to a peaceful resolution of this longstanding conflict.

The humanitarian crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state continues to cause great suffering among large numbers of Muslims. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of March 2019, nearly a million Rohingyas had taken refuge in Bangladesh. While their situation has gradually begun to stabilize and basic assistance is being provided by international organizations, the situation of the Rohingya population remains extremely precarious. The root causes of their plight in Myanmar have not been addressed and their future therefore remains uncertain. Guyana takes this opportunity to commend the Government of Bangladesh for providing humanitarian assistance to those in need during this man-made crisis.

Similar unprecedented migratory flows in other regions of the world have led to the reemergence of prejudice, discrimination and violence against people who are already victims of tragedy and injustice. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which was adopted last year, provides a useful framework for the management of international migratory flows and the protection of migrants, especially women and girls, against violence and exploitation at all stages of migration.

In Afghanistan, we pray that lasting peace would come to that troubled land and condemn the recent attacks that have taken the lives of so many innocent civilians. We also pray for peace in other parts of the ummah that are wracked by conflict and note with alarm the recent attack on oil installations in Saudi Arabia, which represents a major escalation of the conflict in that region and threatens to further destabilize it.

With regard to the empowerment of women in the Muslim world, we welcome the emphasis placed at the informal Consultative Ministerial Meeting on Women Empowerment on the role of women in combating extremism, women leadership and decision making, the protection of women against all forms of violence, and women economic empowerment and financial inclusion.

Guyana also acknowledges the important role played by the OIC in development around the world and wishes to express its appreciation for the recent pledge of financial and technical assistance in the critical areas of infrastructure, capacity building and trade.

As we embark on the development of our emerging oil and gas sector, Guyana looks forward to engaging with the oil producing members of OIC, especially in the areas of technical support and capacity building.

In closing, I wish to recommit my Government to fostering an environment of respect, tolerance and friendly relations among States with a view to realizing a prosperous and equitable future for all.

I thank you.

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