The 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement
Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina
Hon'ble Prime Minister
Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Tehran, The Islamic Republic of Iran, 30 August 2012
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to begin by expressing our deepest condolences to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the people of Iran, at the loss of hundreds of lives in the recent earthquakes in Tabriz. Despite the tragedy we have been received here with such generous hospitality for which I sincerely thank you and the people of Iran. I also warmly congratulate you, President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad, on your assuming the Chair for the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. I thank Egypt for its leadership as past Chair of this Movement.
As I stand here, I recall my father and the Father of our Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who led Bangladesh to join the Non-Aligned Movement in the Algiers Summit of 1974. I also recall his intimate and endearing friendship with the architects and the great leaders of the NAM, and his total commitment to its principles. In our complex globalized world, these principles have gained importance as the developing world faces injustices arising out of the new geopolitical, socio-economic and climatic challenges. NAM today needs as never before to be a united, strong and effective movement to ensure sustainable global peace and security.
I believe injustice is the basic cause of conflicts in the world. Only justice can ensure peace, essential for development and justice is possible only through democracy, which empowers the people. On the other hand, absence of democracy means social injustice, poverty, inequality and marginalization, leading to extremism and terrorism within nations, and in relation to others. It is why I believe that NAM needs to focus on justice in all spheres within and among its member states, and others.
In Bangladesh, I have been strengthening democracy and justice by empowering people through eradicating poverty, hunger, inequality, deprivation through implementing social safety nets; creating jobs, inclusiveness; ensuring sustained growth, human development; and countering terrorism. These measures resulted in the model entitled, "People's Empowerment and Development," which I mooted before the 66th UNGA.
Our efforts during our tenure of government have so far helped reduce poverty by 10 percent, attain GDP growth rate of 6.5 percent, increase per capita income by 34.6 percent, maintain macro-economic stability, expand ICT facilities up to the lowest tier of the local government to ensure the availability of e-services to the rural people, enroll almost 100 percent children in primary schools, establish 12 thousand community clinics to ensure healthcare for the rural people, achieve MDG-4 and MDG-5 on infant and maternal mortality, establish a Climate Change Trust Fund to implement adaptation and mitigation programs. Therefore, I believe the people's empowerment model can deliver justice, equality, strengthen democracy leading to development, progress, political stability and sustainable peace, within nations, and all across the world.
Democracy and development need empowerment of women. To achieve parity we have made education free for girls up to the higher secondary level. Women are encouraged to be active in our national life. In local government elections, women were elected to 12,838 reserved seats. At the national level, 19 directly elected MPs and 50 elected against reserved seats are women. 30 percent of all government posts are reserved for women, some of who serve in very senior positions in the judicial, administrative, diplomatic fields, as well as in armed and law enforcement forces, and as UN peace keepers.
To ensure sustained prosperity, nations need to ensure justice at home and with neighbors through good relations and physical connectivity. During the current tenure of my government, we have been developing close relations with our neighbors, and multi-modal connectivity through roads, railways, waterways, power grids and water sharing. Connectivity would provide greater trade and economic cooperation benefiting all and leading to a prosperous and a stable region. This may also encourage connectivity with neighboring regions securing expansion of prosperity and peace.
The South Asian nations are now all practicing democracy. At the 16th SAARC Summit, Bangladesh proposed a "Charter of Democracy" to ensure protection and strengthening of democracy in all member states. It was unanimously adopted. Today, South Asian nations, through peacekeeping and peace-building, are promoting democracy in UN Missions. Bangladesh takes pride as the top peacekeeping country for over a decade. We are also founding member and the current Chair of the UN Peace Building Commission. In that capacity, we invite you all to the high level event on "Peace-building: Way towards Sustainable Peace and Security" on 25 September 2012 during the 67th UNGA.
Injustice and undemocratic practices have been the root cause of unrest in some countries. Outside influences as the global political and financial bodies like the United Nations and the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) has their role. The decision making process in these bodies reflect the power equations of sixty years ago. They serve the interests of the developed few, rather than the vast majority of the developing states. They are outdated with flaws as seen from the recent global meltdown. NAM needs to engage effectively in reforming the UN and the IFIs and strengthening regional IFIs with equal voice and representation of developing countries for fair, democratic and balanced decisions.
Blatant injustice, murder, torture and humiliation are perpetuated by Israel on the Palestinian people. It is a shameful chapter in human history. Deep frustration at the injustices in Palestine and in other places is also a cause of terrorism. We also condemn Israel's recent prevention of the 5 members of the NAM Committee on Palestine to hold a scheduled Ministerial Meeting in Ramallah this month. It was a violation of international law by Israel. Bangladesh stands firm on NAM's demand for a sovereign, viable Palestine with Al-Quds Al Sharif as its Capital, living in peace with its neighbors.
It is vital to resolve the Palestine and other similar burning issues through justice and democratic and socio-economic rights. There is also usurpation of state power through terrorism as was the case with the assassination of the Father of the Nation, my father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 18 members of my family on 15 August of 1975. I was also a target of a grenade attack on 21 August of 2004 that left 24 people dead and hundreds injured. In the first instance, I was abroad, and in the second, I miraculously survived. My policy has, therefore, been zero tolerance to terrorism. We support NAM's position against terrorism and pledge to extend all cooperation to eliminate it.
Climate change impacts also causes injustices by increasing poverty, property loss, human displacements, and gives way to terrorism. A meter rise in sea level will submerge a fifth of Bangladesh, uprooting over 30 million people and causing social disorder. In the 64th UNGA, I, therefore, called for a new legal regime to ensure social, cultural and economic rehabilitation of climate migrants. Here, I call upon NAM not only for its early realization, but also to secure an international agreement limiting green house gas emissions, on the principle of common and differentiated responsibilities, on funding, amongst others, for adaptation and mitigation, transfer of green technology, etc.
Global food security and climate change are interlinked. Recently, there has been a rise in food prices, reminding us of the 2007-2008 food crises. Though Bangladesh has achieved near self sufficiency in food, despite a growing population and climate change challenges, reports of drought, food shortage and rising food prices elsewhere has been very disturbing. A billion people go to bed hungry every night with most of them inhabiting in the NAM countries. NAM now needs to work with the UN and the IFIs to deal with it, and with global hunger and poverty, food production and its distribution.
Migration with development is one of the largest inter-state economic activities of this century. The majority of the world's labor migrants are from the NAM countries. Their remittances alleviate poverty and contribute to development in both the sending and the receiving states. Though there is relatively free flow of capital, there is no free flow of labor. NAM must raise strong voice for the implementation of the Mode IV of the GATS. NAM must also adopt initiatives to ensure reflection in the WTO of documented and safe migration and protection of the rights of migrants, especially women and children, as a shared responsibility of both sending and receiving states.
The new millennium has ushered in significant changes in the global order. In the sixties, NAM's activities had centered on decolonization and independence of nations. Today, the emphasis is on democracy, justice, freedom, human rights, environment, and climate change. NAM needs to work with a reformed UN and IFIs on these vital issues for a lasting peace. Therefore, I earnestly seek NAM's support for the "People's Empowerment and Development" model for sustainable peace. I hope it would form an important pillar for NAM's new vision. I also hope that NAM members would go beyond individual interests, and be united in establishing a world order based on mutual respect, sovereign equality, justice and the rule of law, as envisaged by NAM's founding fathers.
I thank you for your kind patience.
Joi Bangla, Joi Bangabandhu.
May Bangladesh Live Forever.