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  HE GCCSG: Their Majesties and Highnesses the GCC Leaders Attach Great Importance to Human Rights, by Protecting Basic Rights and Ensuring Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

General Secretariat – Jeddah
His Excellency Mr Jassem Mohamed Albudaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), stated that Their Majesties and Highnesses the leaders of the GCC countries, attach great importance to human rights, by protecting basic rights and ensuring economic, social and cultural rights.

This came during the participation of HE the Secretary General in the 23rd session of the Independent Permanent Commission for Human Rights of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), held on Sunday (June 30, 2024) in the city of Jeddah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in the presence of His Excellency Mr Hussein Ibrahim Taha, Secretary General of the OIC, and His Excellency Ambassador Talal Khaled Al Mutairi, Chairman of the Independent Permanent Commission for Human Rights of the OIC, and a number of experts from relevant international and regional organisations.

At the beginning of his speech, His Excellency referred to some aspects of cooperation between the GCC and the OIC in the field of protecting human rights, which derive from the noble values of the Islamic religion. Specifically, he highlighted the signing of a cooperation agreement in 2008 to strengthen bilateral relations and combat terrorism, occupation, and Zionism. 

Additionally, he mentioned the signing of an executive work programme for the years 2021-2022, aimed at coordinating efforts and consultation in areas such as human rights, continuous political coordination to resolve crises and conflicts in the Islamic world, and cooperation in international forums.

HE the Secretary General also stated that cultural, media and human rights cooperation between the GCC and the OIC focuses on combating hatred and intolerance, and spreading a culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

During his speech, HE the Secretary General commended the prominent role played by the OIC in the field of human rights since its founding in 1969, stressing that this was embodied in the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in 1990, which affirmed the commitment to protecting human rights in accordance with tolerant Islamic Sharia. 

Furthermore, His Excellency expressed the aspiration of the GCC General Secretariat to work on signing a Memorandum of Understanding between its Human Rights Office and the OIC, which will frame cooperation between them and bring together and realise the interests of both parties.

His Excellency also praised the independent and integral role of the Independent Permanent Commission for Human Rights of the OIC, and its work to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. He also expressed his aspiration to signing a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance cooperation between the Commission and the Human Rights Office of the GCC General Secretariat.

Moreover, HE the Secretary General stated that the GCC countries are concerned with issues related to combating discrimination, empowering women, and protecting children, people with disabilities and the elderly, reiterating the Cooperation Council’s belief in the values of tolerance, coexistence and human rights, and its keenness to pursue consolidating them through legal and legislative frameworks as well as specific initiatives.

His Excellency also touched on the current and future challenges to human rights, stating that these challenges represent a threat, both directly and indirectly, to our countries. He mentioned that some countries and organisations are trying to impose agendas that are not related to human rights, in addition to the rapid development in technology, such as Artificial Intelligence, which has an impact on privacy and digital rights.

In this regard, HE Mr Albudaiwi stressed that it has become necessary for all of us to combine our efforts to confront these challenges, including moving quickly to enact appropriate legislation to achieve a reasonable and fair balance between protecting rights and technological progress.

At the conclusion of his speech, His Excellency pointed to the crime that continuously violates human rights and international human rights law, namely the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation forces against the Palestinian people on a daily and systematic basis, especially what is happening in the Gaza Strip, reiterating that these crimes have played a major role in exposing the weakness of the international community and its failure to deal with it and protect the rights of those who are in dire need of protection of their human rights.

HE the Secretary General also said that all international agreements, instruments, and treaties related to human rights have become mere ink on paper, and those principles and values have become empty slogans used unjustly, calling on international officials concerned with this matter to convey the true picture of what is happening on the ground in the Palestinian territories, and hold those responsible for these crimes accountable for their actions and their consequences. 

He added that this is crucial to say that there is indeed an international law to protect human rights, which works effectively, and is impartial, fair, and guarantees and preserves the rights of those whose rights are being violated, and holds those responsible for this violation accountable.