SESRIC has participated in the official visit to the Republic of Iraq headed by Professor Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the Secretary General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on 21 - 25 February 2009. The delegation was comprised of high-level officials from the OIC General Secretariat, the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), the Islamic Bank for Development (IDB), the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), the Islamic Fiqh Academy (IFA), and the Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT).
The main purpose of the official visit was to work out the best ways and means to bolster joint cooperation between the Republic of Iraq and the OIC alongside its subsidiary organs and specialized institutions, given the positive security and stabilization developments and the reconstruction unfolding in Iraq, in light of the resolutions issued by the Islamic Summit held in March 2008 in Dakar, Senegal, and resolutions put out by the Conference of the Council of OIC Foreign Ministers convened in June 2008 in Kampala, Uganda.
Various consultation meetings were conducted by the participation of the technical delegations of experts from both sides. Discussions revolved around cooperation in the fields of labour, social affairs, agriculture, and religious affairs, as well as technical support to build the capacities of Iraqis in various sectors, particularly health, education and culture by cooperating with relevant OIC institutions. The two delegations agreed in principle on a slew of economic development projects, in particular trade development, investment projects, the preservation of heritage and archaeological sites in Iraq, and the development of tourism and agriculture, health and education.
In this regard, the SESRIC representative Mr. Mehmet Fatih Serenli, Director of Training and Technical Cooperation Department, underlined the vital role of reliable statistical data and information in any kind of socio-economic planning and development, and elucidated the Centre’s endeavour in collating, processing and disseminating socio-economic statistics and information for the utilisation of Iraq in their effort of reconstruction, which needs a close collaboration between the Centre and the relevant Iraqi Authority. During the expanded session of bilateral talks carried out with the representatives of the Iraqi government, Mr. Serenli also highlighted the significant contribution that SESRIC Capacity Building Programme (CBP), which aims at matching the needs and capacities of OIC Member Countries in various fields of socio-economic development, would add to the specialisation efforts of professionals and play an important part in the improvement of human capital in Iraq.
At the end of profound discussions, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by the OIC and the Iraqi government. The two parties emphasized in the MoU the core values of the Islamic civilization as embedded in Makkah Declaration issued by the 2005 Extraordinary Islamic Summit, notably dialogue, moderation, justice, tolerance and rejection of bigotry, close-mindedness, authoritarianism, and exclusion. They reiterated their belief that reform and development in any society should be driven by the principles of justice, consultation and equality in order to enlist political participation and ensure the implementation of the rule of law, human rights, and dignity, and to ensure that social justice is responsibly upheld and society is built on a solid and firm foundation.
The two sides agreed to set up a follow-up mechanism that would comprise officials from relevant Iraqi ministries and the OIC General Secretariat together with its subsidiary and specialized organs. The follow-up committee will meet on a regular basis every last quarter of the year to gauge and follow up the progress of projects and identify future ones.
On another level, the Secretary General officially inaugurated the OIC Office in Baghdad, which commenced its operation since last July. The opening ceremony was attended by some Iraqi cabinet members, including Minister of Foreign Affairs, together with the heads of the Sunni and Shiite Waqfs as well as the head of Haj Authority and the accredited ambassadors of the OIC Member States in Baghdad. During the visit, the Secretary General was also invited to attend the reopening of Iraq's National Museum under Nouri al-Maliki's patronage.