Statement by Dr. DipuMoniHonb’le Foreign Minister of Bangladesh at the United Nations Day 2012
Dhaka, 22 Oct 2012
Mr. Neal Walker, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh,
Eminent Economist of our nation Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud,
Members of the UN CountryTeam and FUNSA in Bangladesh,
Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Friends from Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am delighted to be here this afternoon to celebrate the United Nations Day. This is a special day for mankind and for Bangladesh. On this Day 67 years ago, the United Nations was founded and I quote, “To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind” unquote.
On this Day, on behalf of the Government and the people of Bangladesh, I convey our deep appreciation and tribute to the United Nations and its visionary founding fathers, as well as the UN Secretary General and his team for the UN’s untiring efforts to uphold global peace, development and sustainability for humanity at large. I also want to thank the UN Country Team in Bangladesh for organizing this colorful and diverse celebrations befitting of a UN Day, and for their continued support to Bangladesh’s national aspirations and endeavours for peace, democracy and development.
Every United Nations Day inspires us, the people Bangladesh, to reaffirm our faith in this truly universal institution, as it continues to represent mankind’s best bastion and hope for peace, prosperity and justice. Every United Nations Day also reminds the world’s 7 billion people, that we simply cannot succeed in promoting social progress and better standards of life in larger freedoms without a United Nations- the people’s United Nations. And how Ladies and Gentlemen, does the United Nations continue to remain mankind’s best and indispensable hope, especially when the world has undergone such profound socio-political transformations since 1945? How does the UN help us fight our everyday wars and make our world a better place? It does so by fighting alongside its member states, many of our common enemies-- poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, humanitarian and natural disasters, global climate change or terrorism. By bringing hope and succor to every man, woman and child left behind or mitigating the plight of the vulnerable groups in society. Every year the UN saves 30 million women from childbirth related deaths and 2.5 million children by vaccination. It feeds 90 million of world’s poorest in 73 countries. It helped 370 million rural poor achieve better standards of life. Each year the UN mobilizes an amazing US$12.4 billion in humanitarian aid to help people affected by emergencies and assists over 36 million refugees and IDPs fleeing war, famine or persecution. It assists some 30 countries a year in advancing democracy, assisting free fair elections and protecting and promoting human rights through some 80 treaties/declarations. And how has the UN delivered on its principal mandate of maintaining international peace and security when the perception of national and global security has undergone a sea change over the last six decades? On the one hand we see conflict situations whose progress towards resolution is slow or mired with intractability. On the other, non-traditional security threats such as international terrorism, drugs and human trafficking, ethnic or communal strife or communicable diseases etc., have emerged as more challenging than military threats to security. Economic or financial security, energy security, food and water security or climate security, have overtaken traditional security breaches or warfare. And in the face of all these formidable peace and security challenges, the UN since 1945, has been credited with having peacefully negotiated 172 disputes that have prevented or resolved regional, inter or intra-state conflicts.
UN’s peacekeeping and peace-building initiatives have prevented a third world war and brought hope, humanitarian support and succor to hundreds of millions of children, women and vulnerable population around four continents and upheld democracy, human rights, rule of law and justice. According to Rand Corporation, an extreme right US security think tank, UN peacekeeping operations have had a 87% greater rate of success in peace and nation building in conflict societies due to its universal acceptability and neutral legitimacy, than non-blue helmet multinational peacekeeping operations.
And this brings us to the fundamental question of how the UN continues to be as relevant as it were six decades ago, in harnessing the collective will and action of the international community in addressing the greatest challenges of the 21st century. This is because the greatest strength of the UN is its legitimacy and neutrality founded on the bedrock of international law, treaties and conventions. Linked to this is the other compelling strength of the UN which is its universality and acceptability. All 193 states of the world wish to be within the folds of the UN for global recognition and international cooperation. And the UN’s universal mandate and capacity is its third strength that makes it more successful than any other global body in the collective management of world’s political, security, economic and social problems. The experience in Namibia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Mozambique, East Timor, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic in Congo or Liberia, to name only a few, have vindicated UN’s time enduring legitimacy, role and relevance. With six decades of experience in peacemaking, peacekeeping, and now peace-building, only the UN is the best placed global body to maintain global peace, while the Security Council remains the sole legitimate arbiter and authority on questions of use of force.
Founded on the principle of equal sovereignty of states the UN was not created just to protect the interest of the powerful and the influential, but as a truly universal multilateral forum dedicated to the service of mankind and the peoples of the world. With the exception of its Security Council, in the UN and in all its bodies, an LDC like Bangladesh can have an equal vote and a voice in global decision making process at par with a big and powerful country. Thus the UN, designed as an embodiment of world opinion remains the most powerful forum to safeguard the interests of smaller or disadvantaged States, and is the greatest guarantee for their national security.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On this UN Day Bangladesh reaffirms its unwavering commitment to the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, multilateralism and UN’s universality as a central plank of our foreign policy enunciated in our Constitution. Bangladesh believes in a strong and effective United Nations ready to take on the challenges of the 21st century and stand next to the poor and the oppressed. Indeed, our struggle for nationhood and independence drew inspiration in large measure from the UN Charter and the UDHR.
Our engagement with the United Nations is guided by the vision of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who in his maiden speech at the UNGA on September 24 1974, made an unequivocal commitment for the people of Bangladesh to uphold democracy, peace, human rights, social progress, justice, and the rule of law nationally and globally. He said and I quote, “The world is divided into two groups, one is the oppressor and the other is the oppressed. Bangladesh will always remain by the oppressed” unquote. Guided by these noble values and ethos, Bangladesh, much before its membership in the UN on 17 September 1974, became a member of ILO, UNCTAD, WHO, UNESCO and other UN specialized bodies, the bulwark of the UN. We see the UN as the source of inspiration, initiative and support in our national, regional and international endeavours.
We thank the UN for devoting one of its largest country development programmes in Bangladesh. We remain committed to reciprocate this gesture as an active and contributing member of the world body in strengthening UN’s efforts towards global peace, democracy, human rights, justice and development. Geographically a small developing country, Bangladesh is proud to be a major partner of the UN in fulfilling its principal mandate, the maintenance of international peace and security. For more than two decades, Bangladesh has remained a dependable, consistent and frontline partner to UN’s peace endeavours since the 80s. More than 113,000 blue helmets from Bangladesh have left their peace footprints in 56 UN Missions, to establish peace and rebuild post-conflict societies. Currently the top police contributing country, Bangladesh is specially proud to deploy 13 Formed Police Units including one all-Female Formed Unit to ongoing peace Missions. Our contribution to peace has not come without a price. So far, 106 heroic sons of the soil have laid down their lives in the service of humanity and I pay our deep homage to them on this UN Day. Bangladesh's high profile participation in UN peacekeeping is strongly guided by our "peacekeeping diplomacy" at the UN also facilitated our founding membership in the UN’s Peace Building Commission, an institution in which Bangladesh not only played a leadership role as NAM coordinator but is currently the elected Chair. During the 67th UNGA Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took the leadership initiative as PBC’s Chair to organize UN’s first ever high level meeting of the PBC on 25 September 2012, in which the UNSG praised Bangladesh for propagating the ideas of national ownership and sustained international support for sustainable peace as the PBC Chair.
A country to be most affected by global climate change, Bangladesh is also leading the Climate Vulnerable Forum and voicing the special adaptation and green technology needs of the climatically vulnerable LDCs and low lying countries (LLCs) at the UN’s Climate Change negotiations under the UNFCC. During the 67th UNGA Bangladesh launched the second Climate Vulnerability Monitor in New York, a publication that has received widest possible global review as a whistle blower on climate vulnerability data. Despite our many resource, geographic and climatic limitations and challenges, the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina takes pride in the international recognition of its development and digitalization achievements under our ”Vision 2021” manifest in the 2010 MDGs Award for MDG4 and the 2011 South-South Award for digital health initiatives for MDG 5. This year at the UNGA Bangladesh and its Prime Minister was invited to make leadership contributions and made fresh pledges at highest numbers of development, women empowerment and rule of law related events including the SUN and the Education First Initiative of the UN Secretary General, Equal Futures Partners initiative of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the gender representation initiative at the UNFCC negotiations. The recognition of and I quote, “The role of Bangladesh, a small developing country, as a major contributor to the key mandates of the UN including peace, development and women empowerment, is not a mean feat” unquote, was the commendation by HE Ban-ki Moon during his bilateral meeting with Prime Mister Sheikh Hasina last month in New York, where the Secretary General praised Bangladesh as a star performer in secularism and women empowerment, and a role model in peace and development.
Bangladesh’s constructive consensus-building role and diplomatic credentials at the UN has earned for itself current membership in as many as 22 frontline UN specialized bodies, including at the ECOSOC, Human Rights Council, the PBC, Conference on Disarmament, UNESCO, UNDP UNFPA-UNOPs, UNEP, FAO, UNWOMEN Executive Boards, in CEDAW and CSOCD Committees, ITU, UPU to name a few. In these bodies we relentlessly strive to propagate our core national and foreign policy values including democracy, peace, secularism, human rights, rule of law, women empowerment, a zero tolerance towards terrorism and extremism, a general and complete disarmament.
Last month on 30 September Bangladesh had experienced a heinous terror attack of unprecedented scale on its Buddhist community and their holy sites in Ramu. Even though luckily there were no casualties, we lost invaluable images of Lord Buddha which has been our priceless national treasure for centuries. While all necessary actions, investigations and actions are being taken to bring those heinous criminals behind this unacceptable hate incident to justice, the State and the people of Bangladesh would like to reaffirm on this UN Day, that no communal or extremists forces would be able to deter the indomitable spirit of the Bengali secularism, culture and tolerance that binds our nation as one. Every year Bangladesh tables its flagship resolution on a culture of peace and non-violence fostering diversity, secular values and tolerance. This year we dedicate this resolution to our Buddhist brothers and sisters in Ramu who had suffered irreparable spiritual and material losses. To them we pledge that no extremist or terrorist will be able to divide us as a nation along the religious or communal lines, rather incidents such as Ramu will reinvigorate our determination and national unity as a peace loving secular humanist nation to uphold equality, mutual tolerance, love and peace, values that the United Nations stands for.
On this UN Day, that nation is proud to renew and reaffirm its full trust and confidence in the UN as the only viable, universal and legitimate global body to address issues of international peace and security, of human rights, development and of larger freedoms for humanity.Let us on this auspicious 67th UN Day make a collective pledge to build a better United Nations, a more democratic and effective United Nations one that reflects the realities of the world we live in today, and can meet the challenges we will face tomorrow, one that can gift our succeeding generations with a sustainable planet, the one and only of its kind.
I thank you all.
Long live Bangladesh UN partnership.