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The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation: Defined – for Better and Worse - by Its Religious Dimension

18-09-2013

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is an intergovernmental organisation with a strong religious element that regroups 57 Muslim or predominantly Muslim member states. Its priorities are promoting the interests of Muslim communities across the world and fighting Islamophobia, especially in the Western world. The OIC has a loose parliamentary arm, the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUIC), based in Tehran. The PUIC has a rather limited role and low visibility, as it merely ...

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is an intergovernmental organisation with a strong religious element that regroups 57 Muslim or predominantly Muslim member states. Its priorities are promoting the interests of Muslim communities across the world and fighting Islamophobia, especially in the Western world. The OIC has a loose parliamentary arm, the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUIC), based in Tehran. The PUIC has a rather limited role and low visibility, as it merely promotes meetings and dialogue among the parliaments of OIC members and encourages the exchange of parliamentary experiences and best practices. In June 2013, the OIC inaugurated a Permanent Mission Office to the EU in Brussels to increase cooperation with the EU. The EU-OIC agenda has included issues related to fighting intolerance and promoting interreligious / intercultural dialogue, as well as human rights and humanitarian assistance. A number of other sensitive issues, such as the rights and protection of Christian and other religious minorities in Muslim countries, have not yet been addressed. Some observers have suggested that the OIC may become more conservative vis-à-vis human rights after January 2014, when a new Secretary-General from Saudi Arabia takes the helm of the organisation.

Syria: Weighing the Risks

09-09-2013

Following two and a half years of bloody civil war in Syria, world leaders remain uncertain how to staunch a humanitarian calamity that has left more than 100 000 Syrians dead, 6 million displaced and immeasurable material damage and human suffering. China and Russia have incapacitated the United Nations, and the military conflict in Syria is escalating dangerously. The chemical attack on civilian targets near Damascus on 21 August has refocused the attention of the international community on the ...

Following two and a half years of bloody civil war in Syria, world leaders remain uncertain how to staunch a humanitarian calamity that has left more than 100 000 Syrians dead, 6 million displaced and immeasurable material damage and human suffering. China and Russia have incapacitated the United Nations, and the military conflict in Syria is escalating dangerously. The chemical attack on civilian targets near Damascus on 21 August has refocused the attention of the international community on the crisis, and the United States and France – supported by the Gulf states, Turkey and Israel – are calling for a targeted and limited military intervention to punish the Assad regime. Such action would have unpredictable consequences for the country, the region and world politics. It is unlikely that it would improve the dire situation of the Syrian people or foster a peaceful and democratic future for the country.

EU - League of Arab States Relations: Prospects for Closer Parliamentary Cooperation

20-05-2013

The League of Arab States, a grouping of 22 Arab states established in 1945, has the potential to become the most important regional organisation in the greater Middle East. The changes triggered by the Arab Spring have led to the reorientation of the League's traditionally conservative policies on established Arab political regimes, while the civil wars in Libya and Syria have highlighted the League's potentially constructive role in supporting transition in the southern Mediterranean. The organisation's ...

The League of Arab States, a grouping of 22 Arab states established in 1945, has the potential to become the most important regional organisation in the greater Middle East. The changes triggered by the Arab Spring have led to the reorientation of the League's traditionally conservative policies on established Arab political regimes, while the civil wars in Libya and Syria have highlighted the League's potentially constructive role in supporting transition in the southern Mediterranean. The organisation's newfound relevance has been recognised by the European Union, which has worked to enhance the once-limited bilateral relations. A milestone for the partners' cooperation was the second EU - Arab League Foreign Affairs ministerial meeting, convened in Cairo in November 2012, which resulted in a joint declaration outlining an ambitious work programme in a range of fields. In parallel, the European Parliament has advanced inter-parliamentary cooperation with the newly-established permanent Arab Parliament composed by representatives of national parliaments. While the Arab Parliament's role is still limited, the organisation has the potential to grow in the future, as the region moves towards more democratic structures of governance. This provides impetus for the European Parliament to be proactive and enhance its cooperation with the Arab Parliament. In addition, closer relations with the Arab Parliament would allow the European Parliament to increase its visibility and interaction with national parliaments in Arab countries.

Recovering Tunisian and Egyptian Assets: Legal Complexity Challenges States in Need

16-05-2013

Freezing assets is an EU competence; recovering them, on the other hand, is a competence of the Member States. For the EU, recovering the assets of the ousted Tunisian and Egyptian regimes is an issue of political commitment and credibility, with the Union's reputation in Arab Spring countries partly at stake. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (in force since 2005) makes clear that recovering assets is a priority in a coordinated international fight against corruption. There exists ...

Freezing assets is an EU competence; recovering them, on the other hand, is a competence of the Member States. For the EU, recovering the assets of the ousted Tunisian and Egyptian regimes is an issue of political commitment and credibility, with the Union's reputation in Arab Spring countries partly at stake. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (in force since 2005) makes clear that recovering assets is a priority in a coordinated international fight against corruption. There exists a lack of efficient cooperation between 'requesting' and 'requested' states, as well as a paucity of reliable information about the amounts in question. The EU Council has recently adopted a decision to make it easier to share information relating to Egyptian and Tunisian funds in the EU. There are still many procedural problems to tackle, especially in the case of Egypt. An EU special task force could be set up to explore practical ways to better coordinate and exchange best practices between EU Member States and Tunisia and Egypt. The UK is a frontrunner in establishing a central structure facilitating the legal proceedings to recover assets. The European Parliament can send a clear signal of the EU's political commitment to helping Tunisia and Egypt recover their assets.

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