HFM-keynote address at people's empowerment

Key-note Address by Hon'ble Foreign Minister, Dr. DipuMoni, MP at the National Consultations preparatory to the International Conference on People's Empowerment and Development Model proposed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Dhaka, 13 Jun 2012

Hon'ble Adviser Mr. H.T. Imam,
Hon'ble Adviser Prof. Dr. Syed Modasser Ali,
Principal Secretary, Mr. Shaikh Md. Wahid Uzzaman,
Mr. Chair,
Distinguished Members of Parliament,
Senior Government Officers,
Representatives of the UN Organizations in Dhaka,
Members of the academia, civil society and media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to be able to speak at this National Consultations that would very befittingly focus on the empowerment and development of the hundreds of millions of people that we the politicians serve as people's representatives.

This consultations is doubly gratifying for me, as this norm setting exercise would nationally enrich and mould an international model for peace and development proposed less than a year ago by none other than Bangladesh's Head of Government Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the most universally accepted people’s forum, the United Nations General Assembly.

And as mentioned by previous speakers, as a political leader from a developing country Sheikh Hasina, proposed this empowerment model not only for the people of Bangladesh, but more so for billions of peoples around the world, those who suffer an entire range of political, economic, social, cultural and even climatic disempowerment, deprivation, exclusion or marginalization. This is a dedicated empowerment and development philosophy that targets these vulnerable peoples in particular.

Mr. Chairman,

In a world in which more than 3 billion people suffer from extreme poverty, hunger, disease, malnutrition and illiteracy, and millions live in conflict and deprivation of their fundamental freedoms and human rights, peace remains elusive than ever; development- an ever widening challenge and marginalization of the poor, the vulnerable and the excluded- an everyday story, a story that hardly ever makes the front page of the media.

Even though the link between peace and development, peace and disarmament or peace and non-violence is well recognized globally, the fact that people and their true empowerment must be at the centre of any State endeavour that aims to achieve lasting, holistic and sustainable peace and development may be there in theory- but is often overlooked in practice. That peace is an essential environment in which the humankind’s full potential, capability and inherent creativity is realized for the common good of humanity- is often undermined. One of the key purposes of the United Nations,- 'to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom" is often forgotten in the flurry of vested political or strategic interests.

The major UN conferences of the 90s and in the new millennium including the 1995 Copenhagen Summit, the 2000 MDG Summit, the 2005 World Summit, the Rio Earth Summits, the UDHR or the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on Human Rights, all recognized that development, peace, security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. And yet since Copenhagen, the goal of creating "a society for all" remains elusive and societies are still far from being stable, just and equitable.

Mr. Chairman,

Contrary to the principles of 'social justice', in developing countries millions of people are unable to meet their basic needs and remain disempowered and voiceless, while in many developed countries, high economic growth has not been translated into people's empowerment or human development. From recent global unrests it is evident that people's disempowerment remains at the core of all problems of the contemporary world and, resulted in socio-political unrest, insurgency, terrorism, fundamentalism and the like.

As we speak, thousands of people lay homeless as a consequence of the aftershock of the global economic and financial crisis attesting that, state wealth alone cannot guarantee the much needed social protection, voice or empowerment of the citizens or address widening inequality even in richer countries. The systematic exclusion of selected groups and persons from fundamental freedoms or employment opportunities still remain impediments to socio-economic stability in many comparable societies. One week ahead of the Rio+20 Summit, when a global economic slowdown is rife, achieving the three pillars of sustainable development equitably- i.e. social development, economic growth and environmental protection, remain the toughest challenge ever for all governments alike.

And in this plethora of global injustices, inequalities and political imperfections, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's peace, empowerment and development philosophy dedicated to bring empowerment specially to the voiceless, marginalized and the deprived- by giving them a voice, social equity and safety, human capability and economic opportunity through the promotion of 7 mutually reinforcing peace and development multipliers, has every potential to bring hope, succor and redress for the disempowered and marginalized all over the world.

Mr. Chairman,

Our confidence in the 'People's Empowerment Model's effectiveness, global acceptability and sustainability lie in its inherent strength in addressing every trigger of deprivation and disempowerment that economists and social scientists have traditionally and contemporarily branded as usual suspects. Our confidence in this Model remains high as this is a people-centric empowerment model. Any peace and development philosophy where people and their voice and participation in every sphere of political, economic, social and cultural life remain at the center, where people are the prime movers and agents of change, cannot go wrong. Any empowerment model that recognizes that eradication of poverty and hunger, reducing inequality, mitigating deprivation, accelerating human development and employment, are essential for curbing extremism and terrorism, must be on the right track.

Our confidence remain high in this Model as it carries along with it Bangladesh's national values and foreign policy aspirations including peace, democracy, secularism, socio-economic emancipation of our people, human rights, inclusion and social justice, as postulated 4 decades ago by our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, our Constitution and propagated in the political philosophy of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Our confidence remain high in this Model as it draws also from the myriads of socioeconomic and MDGs successes and best practices, that Bangladesh and its 160 million people have already demonstrated to the world and earned global acclaim from the likes of UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon. It has been Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government’s Vision and Mission since assumption of office in 2009 to place people at the heart of our development aspirations and agenda, to provide unprecedented social safety nets to the destitute and the vulnerable groups including women, widows, the aged and the disabled, to ensure the women, religious and ethnic minorities get empowered quickly, and to promote progressive aspirations of mankind including democratic institutions, free media and enterprise.

[Starting from her political career in 1962 as a student activist protesting against the Shariff Commission to the resistance against the unelected caretaker government in 2007-2008, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has relentlessly laboured to restore power back to the people and the parliament. "Empowering the people" became her most important political Mantra and vision. The signing of the CHT Peace Accord for empowering the CHT minorities, the Ganges water Sharing Treaty to give people back their right to water, implementing universal "Health For All" and 18, 00 community clinics especially for mothers and children or introducing a digital Bangladesh to empower the people through information and communication technology have all contributed to this process of people's empowerment. Our special guest Mr. H. T Imam has already talked about some specific programmes of the present government in reducing poverty, promoting inclusion and thus empowering people and also Bangladesh's efforts in this respect both within the country and internationally.

I therefore, take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for presenting Bangladesh and the world with the 'Peoples Empowerment model' befitting with our national aspirations and values, that have already found its due place at the UN General Assembly under G-77 ownership with overwhelming support in adoption of resolution UNGA 66/224. I call upon all of you present here, our key policy planners, independent economists, social scientists, researchers, civil society and the media to enrich the seeds of empowerment sowed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and make it a truly universal Model. We must own up to the Model at the UN as a State and make the forthcoming International Conference to be hosted in Dhaka as mandated by the resolution a huge success and the adoption of a Dhaka Declaration with a clear manifesto for global peace, development and empowerment.

I thank you, Mr. Chair.

Joi Bangla!
Joi Bangabandhu!