Jeddah: More 90 experts on human rights, law, politics and minorities, including UN special procedures as well as representatives of UN Member States, met at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah as part of a two-day meeting on how to effectively implement UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 on combating religious intolerance, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against people due to their religion or beliefs.

The meeting, the 5th Session of the Istanbul Process, is the second of its nature to be held in the Muslim world and follows previous meetings in Washington, London, Geneva and Doha to promote the full and effective implementation of UN Resolution 16/18.

In his opening speech, OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) Secretary-General Eyad Ameen Madani thanked the participants for attending and said the meeting reflects the importance that the international human rights community attaches to combating religious intolerance.

Madani said that religious hatred needs to be addressed at all levels, including the need to ascertain the limits of freedom of expression to determine where it ends and transforms into incitement to hatred.

“The impact of news of discrimination or violence based on religion not only affects the targeted people or community but also impacts the broader international community as well as evinces corresponding reactions,” he said while expounding on the issue of globalisation and its impact.

Madani also gave details about Resolution 16/18 and the Istanbul Process that was formed to action it. “All stakeholders must stand united, reaffirm their commitment to the global policy framework and redouble their efforts to fully and effectively implement this consensus Action Plan at all levels,” he said.

Ambassador Joachim Rucker, President of the UN Human Rights Council, in his speech mentioned that the litmus test for the work of the HRC is its effectiveness and impact on the ground.

“This is what the Istanbul Process is about: To better implement one of the Council’s landmark resolutions. This process is a fine example for states not just for negotiating and tabling a resolution but for taking ownership of its very implementation,” he said.

Other speakers at the event included Faisal Muammar, Secretary-General of the King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in Vienna, Professor Ebrahim Saleh Al Naimi, Chairman of the Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue (DCID), Ambassador Adam Kulach, the EU’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries, and Ambassador Marta Mauras, permanent representative of Chile to the UN in Geneva.

Messages were also read out on behalf of Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussain, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and John Kerry, the US Secretary of State. A video message from David Kaye, the UN’s special rapporteur, on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, was also shown