Thursday, 1 December, 2022

UNHRC membership: An honour for the nation

Bangladesh has been elected a member to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for 2023-2025. It has bagged a historic win in the election for the membership for the term 2023-25, by securing 160 votes among 189 casted votes in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. This would be the fifth term of Bangladesh as a member of the 47-member UNHRC. In the previous UNHRC elections, Bangladesh won in 2006, 2009, 2014 and 2018; effectively for all possible terms as per the rules of business of the Council. It quietly deserves reputation and glory of the people of the country and its government as a whole. The people of Bangladesh when they were under British colonial rule for about 200 years fought for independence, human rights and justice. Many patriots have sacrificed their lives for the cause of humanity, freedom of expression, democracy and fundamental rights. When this nation was under Pakistani rule for about 24 years, it fought against injustice, disparity. It fought for democracy, human rights, socio-economic and cultural rights as well. Bangladesh believes in democracy, human rights, rule of law, transparency and accountability in every sector. The country raises its voices at international forums. Bangladesh contains and maintains its fundamental human rights through part–III of the constitution and raises its voices to the international arena with the coincidence with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN charter. Bangladesh promotes human rights for all at national and global level sponsoring the annual resolution on human rights, climate change, culture of peace, right-based global compact for migration and development. Bangladeshi soldiers are working in UN peacekeeping forces and its soldiers are working in difficult circumstances in many post-conflict situations to protect lives and human rights of people, particularly women and children. Bangladesh has taken a “zero-tolerance” policy to any kind of sexual violence and abuse. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has joined the circle of leadership and made contributions to the UN Secretary General’s voluntary fund for the victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, continues to host the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals until they return to their homeland in safety, security and dignity. The prime minister, addressed the 77th UNGA session at UN headquarters in New York on Septembers 23, 2022 and raised the issues of Russia-Ukraine conflict and said that the conflict has plunged the world further into a grave uncertainty, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities. “Antagonism like war or economic sanctions, counter-sanctions can never bring good to any nation,” she added, pointing to mutual dialogue as the means to solve crises and stressing her participation in the United Nations Global Crisis Response Group. Citing Bangladesh’s founding father’s dictum on foreign policy of “friendship to all, malice towards none”, she affirmed that her country has been pursuing this principle of non-alignment since its independence and stressed the impact of war on women, children and refugees. Noting Bangladesh’s full commitment to complete disarmament and peacekeeping operations, she pointed out that the country contributes to the highest number of troops and police to United Nations peacekeeping missions.  Bangladesh has a zero-tolerance policy on terrorism and violent extremism, “We do not allow our territory to be used by any party to incite or cause terrorist acts or harm to others”, she said, also pointing to cybercrimes and actions to promote human rights. She reiterated Bangladesh’s unequivocal support for a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders and the establishment of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.  She underscored that despite her country’s bilateral engagements with Myanmar, “not a single Rohingya was repatriated to their ancestral homes” and hoped that the United Nations will play an effective role in this regard.  Prolonged presence of Rohingyas in Bangladesh has caused serious ramifications in her country. “Cross-border organised crimes including human and drug trafficking are on the rise.  This situation can potentially fuel radicalisation” and affects the stability of the entire region, and beyond, she said.  Calling for an end to the Russia-Ukraine war, she noted that it puts the lives and livelihoods of the people of all nations in greater risk and infringes their human rights. Bangladesh has an independent Human Rights Commission and Judiciary which are continuing to provide capacity-building and training programmes in the field of human rights to law enforcing agencies, judges, public prosecutors, lawyers, journalists, civil servants, parliamentarians and the media has pro-people developmental agenda with particular attention to women, education and well-being of women and girls.

Bangladesh continues to promote and protect the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. It works towards maintaining the traditional communal harmony by upholding the secular, pluralist and inclusive values of state and society in general. It continues to strengthen efforts to promote and protect the rights of workers and progressively realises decent work conditions across all sectors of economy, basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare et cetera) as a means to effectively enjoy all human rights. Bangladesh is committed to strengthen the legal and policy framework towards elimination of violence, terrorism, extremism, intolerance and discrimination of all groups of society to ensure enjoyment of constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms, world humanity, justice, works for peace and tranquility, human rights and dignity. Bangladesh’s recent win (2023-2025 term) in the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) election is a testimony to its indomitable advancement of human rights, realisation and recognition by world community and it is an honour to the nation.


Md Muzibur Rahman, a writer on development and economics issues