Prof. Savas Alpay, Director General of SESRIC Moderated the Special Sideline Event on “The Role of NGOs in the Development Efforts of the Islamic Countries” during the 30th Session of COMCEC
Date: 28 November 2014
Venue: Istanbul - Türkiye

On the occasion of the COMCEC’s 30th anniversary along with the regular sessions, several special sessions have been organized during 25-28 November 2014. One of these special sessions was on the role of NGOs in the development efforts of the Islamic countries. The meeting was attended by delegations of OIC Member States attending the ministerial COMCEC Session, NGOs, the OIC Institutions, representatives of International Organizations, academicians and other relevant stakeholders.

Islamic Countries have a strong tradition of NGOs and voluntary institutions. Throughout the history, especially Waqfs have contributed substantially to economic development, social solidarity, education and training in the Islamic Countries and beyond. However, the current status of NGOs in the OIC Member States is far below the potential. In this respect, building an enabling environment for the development of NGOs in line with norms and traditions of Islamic Culture significantly contribute to the development efforts in the Islamic World.

The session was started with a key note speech of Mr. Bouabdellah Ghlamallah, Former Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs of Algeria. It was followed by a panel session chaired by Prof. Savaş Alpay, Director General of SESRIC, and comprising Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder of Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) in Bangladesh, Ziad Abdel Samad, Executive Director of the Arab NGO Network for Development in Lebanon, Dr. Omar Farooq Sheikh Ahmed, Prof. Emeritus of International Studies in Malaysia, and Hameed A. Opeloyeru, OIC Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs. As the moderator of the session, Prof. Alpay noted that there is a strong tradition of NGOs and voluntary organizations formed by civil society so-called the Wakf Institutions that contributed to development, social solidarity, education and training. However, in OIC member countries, it is difficult to claim that NGOs are fully reached their potential in development efforts stemming from problems associated with governance, legislation and some socio-cultural norms.

During the discussions, the panellists shared their perspectives on, among others, the contributions made by NGOs to national and international development efforts, the current status of the NGOs in the Muslim Countries and their contributions to development and cooperation processes in the OIC Region, the roles NGOs can play in improving economic and commercial cooperation among the OIC Member Countries, and the historical NGO implementations in Islamic Countries as a model and inspiration for contemporary NGO practices.

This special session was organized by the COMCEC Coordination Office in an effort to evaluate contributions of NGOs to national and international development efforts, review the current level of NGOs in the Muslim Countries and discuss that the relationship between the common culture of the Muslim Countries (specifically related to social solidarity and waqfs) and the economic and social development. This special session introduced new insights while discussing present or potential relations between traditional social welfare mechanisms (such as waqf) and development exertions in the Muslim Countries. The session was attended by the Ministerial-level delegations participating in the COMCEC Session, eminent scholars and experts.