Lyad Madani, secretary general the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), addressing the opening session of Istanbul Process meeting at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah on Wednesday

JEDDAH — International experts gathered here Wednesday for a two-day Istanbul Process meeting to discuss the effective implementation of the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 which deals with religious intolerance.

Entitled “From Resolution to Realization”, the meeting at the headquarters of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) hosted a diverse assembly of human rights practitioners, civil society actors, lawyers, diplomats, and academics.

Representatives from UN bodies, the European Union, NGOs, interfaith organizations and OIC member states participated in discussing effective ways to combat violence, discrimination, and intolerance against people due to their religious beliefs.

Speakers referred to recent events of religious discrimination and violence such as the killing of non-Muslims by Daesh (so-called IS), the Rohingya Muslims crisis, vandalism of holy sites in different parts of the world, and sectarian violence in different regions around the globe.

OIC Secretary General Iyad Madani discussed the need for mutual respect in a globalized world.

“Both the UN Resolution and Istanbul Process provide the most practical, consensual and theoretically workable framework for addressing intolerance or discrimination based on religion,” he said, adding that the OIC has been on the forefront of international efforts to combat this issue.

“We focused on dialogue for religious expression because it’s important for minority groups to be heard. The main issues have been already discussed and now it’s time for implementation,” Prof. Ibrahim Al-Naimi, chairman of the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue, told Saudi Gazette. He added, “We aim to create a roadmap to implement this initiative.”

Secretary General of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) Faisal Moammar emphasized the impact of dialogue and discussion in the issue as a basis for effective change.

M. Arsalan Suleman, Counselor for Multilateral Affairs at the US Department of State said, “Resolution 16/18 and the Istanbul Process are a process we’re committed to. The United States was one of the parties that helped to negotiate on Res. 16/18, the first time in March 2011. From the very beginning, we’ve been one of the main partners along with the EU and the OIC in the Istanbul Process”. The next meeting for the Istanbul Process will be held in Santiago, Chile.