Suriname, a member of the Organistion of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) since 1996, is participating in the 38th OIC Council of Foreign Ministers Meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, with a delegation comprised of Suriname’s Presidential Envoy, and former Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Liakat Errol Alibux and Ms. Kitty Sweeb, Deputy Permanent Representative of Suriname to the United Nations.

Suriname’s participation at the OIC forums has been sporadic in the past, but Paramaribo’s presence in Astana, and the make up of its delegation, is an indication that the new government in Suriname, led by President Bouterse is serious to engage the Arab and Islamic world closer.

The OIC dropped "Conference" in preference to "Cooperation" and unveiled a new emblem Tuesday in Astana. It will now be called the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.  These changes demonstrates the OIC‘s aim to transform itself to deal with multiple global challenges and especially those facing the Islamic communities globally.

Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov who introduced the resolution to make the change and said, “We should strengthen our cooperation, both internal and external, in all fields." Kazykhanov said, "Our internal cooperation means consolidating Islamic integrity and solidarity while external cooperation would aim to solidify the Ummah's position in the world," especially cooperation with world bodies.

Among the new membership rules, it is mandatory that the country should have a Muslim majority and also be a member of the United Nations.  However, nations such as Suriname, Guyana, Mozambique, among others, with Muslim minority population’s membership won’t be affect.  This will affect new membership. Hence, it is highly unlikely that Mauritius and Republic of Central Africa’s application for membership will be granted with the new criteria.  Regarding Observer – membership, the new criteria states that countries seeking observer status must enable Muslims the same rights of followers of other religions.

In another landmark event today in Astana, the OIC established a human rights panel to safeguard basic freedoms for Muslims.  The panel will comprised of 18 high-ranking jurists and human rights specialists from member states. Dr. Ihsanoglu said. “Since the OIC has three major geographical groups, namely African, Asian and Arab, each region will have six members on the commission.”

Guyana which is also a member of the OIC since 1998 has a delegation in Kazakhstan.