‘LET US REJECT WAR AND WORK FOR PEACE’: PM AT UNITED NATIONS
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today appealed to the world leaders to take effective steps to stop wars and conflicts across the world.
“Let us reject war and work for peace. And the UN can play the central role in stopping wars,” she said adding Bangladesh is committed to working with all to make that a reality.”
Sheikh Hasina was addressing a function arranged at UN Headquarters marking the 40th anniversary of Bangladesh’s membership of the United Nations.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UN Under Secretary General Ameerah Haq, US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennadiy Gatilov, UK Ambassador to the United States Peter Westmacott, Senior Official of the Ministry of External Affairs of India Binod Kumar, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova also spoke on the occasion.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh and the UN have a common mission. “Bangladesh would continue its struggle to empower people and make the world safer for succeeding generations,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina sought support of the UN and member states to the stride of Bangladesh in realizing Vision 2021 and building a knowledge-driven middle-income economy before the country’s golden jubilee of independence.
On the occasion, she paid deep homage to the Greatest Bangalee of all times, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, three million martyrs of independence and two hundred thousand women who lost their sanctity for nation’s independence.
Terming Bangladesh’s membership of the UN on September 17, 1974 as a momentous event in our nation’s foreign relations, she said newly independent Bangladesh was in search of international recognition and support for the nascent nation at that time.
At that moment, she said, the admission of Bangladesh into the apex international organization came as a great victory for the Bangladeshi people.
Sheikh Hasina recalled with gratitude the support of two friends- India and the Russian Federation- saying both the countries greatly helped our War of Liberation in 1971 and played an instrumental role in our membership of the UN as its 136th member.
She also remembered with appreciation a number of European countries including the UK and Germany, whose governments and people stood next to us during those difficult days.
The Prime Minister availed the opportunity to pay her personal tribute to late US Senator Edward M Kennedy, and the American people represented by his liberal humanitarian persona.
“Senator Kennedy not only raised his voice time and again at the US Senate against the atrocities and genocide committed against the Bengali people, but also visited Bangladesh during our Liberation War,” she said.
She said all Asian and African friends from the NAM whose leaders and people ardently supported the Bangladesh’s Liberation Struggle and post-independence drive to secure UN membership.
Pointing out the maiden speech of Bangabandhu at the UN on 24 September 1974, she said “Since then, our engagement with the world body continues to be defined and guided by a foreign policy underlined by Bangabandhu in that speech.”
Sheikh Hasina said in his speech Father of the Nation made an unequivocal commitment to uphold the UN Charter, and promote peace, tolerance, democracy, human rights, social progress, justice, and the rule of law through international cooperation.
“Those ideals continue to inspire all subsequent diplomatic engagement and leadership of Bangladesh in the UN and its various fora,” she said.
The Prime Minister appreciated the UN for standing solidly next to Bangladesh for its all out support to its people in support of our national aspirations for peace, development, democracy and human rights since 1972.
Much before we becoming a UN member, most of its agencies like UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, FAO, UNFPA, UNRWA, UNESCO came forward and lend support for our reconstruction soon after independence, she said.
UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim visited Bangladesh in 1973 and expressed his solidarity with the Bangabandhu government, she recalled.
The Prime Minister said from a humble beginning in 1974, the collaboration of Bangladesh with the UN has grown strength to strength over the last 40 years.
“It has culminated in a strategic partnership, especially in the areas of UN peace-keeping and peace-building, democracy and human rights, social and economic progress, specially the MDGs, and the Post-2015 Development Agenda,” she said.
On behalf of the people of Bangladesh, the Prime Minister thanked all successive UN Secretaries General, specially gave a ‘big thank you’ to his Excellency Ban ki-Moon for their support to strengthen Bangladesh’s position in the world body.
Sheikh Hasina said over the last four decades, Bangladesh has remained at the forefront of UN’s efforts for global peace and development. We have had the privilege of serving as the President of the 41st UN General Assembly and twice at the UN Security Council.
She said Bangladesh served eight terms at the ECOSOC and several terms at Executive Boards and Councils of important UN funds and programmes, including UNDP-UNFPA, UNICEF, UNESCO, WFP, FAO, UN Women, the Human Rights Council, and many more.
In this regard, she recalled her deliberation at the historic UN Security Council Summit as a member, and at the Millennium Summit in 2000 and served as the chair in high-level meeting of the Peace-building Commission.
“Guided by the enduring foreign policy dictum of Bangabandhu- ‘friendship to all and malice to none’- pursuit of peace and development remained a cardinal plank of Bangladesh’s foreign policy at the UN,” Sheikh Hasina said.
The Prime Minister said, “Our peace-centric foreign policy of Bangladesh had prompted us to emerge as a leader in UN Peace-keeping operations.”
“More than 128,000 ‘blue helmets’ from Bangladesh served in 54 UN peace missions in four continents,” she said recalling supreme sacrifice made by 119 of our valiant sons for the cause of global peace.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked the UN secretary general for his recognition to Bangladesh as a ‘role model’ member state for its achievements in MDGs and global peace.
“As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of our membership, we humbly take pride in all those impressive achievements we made as a sovereign and democratic nation at the UN,” she said.
On the occasion the Prime Minister presented a roadmap for future engagements of Bangladesh with the UN.
“In the days ahead Bangladesh would remain steadfast in our commitment to international peace, security and development,” she said adding Bangladesh would continue to remain UN’s leading peacekeeper with priority given to safeguarding civilians in danger.
Bangladesh would work together with member states to enhance UN’s capacity to effectively respond to wars, conflicts and armed violence, she said. At the Peace-building Commission, Bangladesh would contribute its home-grown experience to nation-building, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh would firmly remain in the forefront of UN’s disarmament agenda including nuclear, maritime, space and cyber security and pro-actively contribute to the global combat against terrorism and violent extremism, fight human, narcotics and wildlife trafficking.
She said Bangladesh would continue to champion a culture of peace and promote ‘people’s empowerment’ for inclusive development as well as promoting criminal justice and fight against crimes against humanity, sexual violence and genocide.
The Prime Minister expressed her firm determination to make constructive contributions to norm setting in the global human rights agenda and further strengthen national human rights, governance and anti-corruption regime working with the UN.
Bangladesh would champion girl’s and women’s empowerment with special focus on tackling violence against women and child marriage, she said adding further expand the rights-based interventions for children, including those with special needs such as Autism.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is poised to enter boldly into the post-2015 era riding on its stellar performance with MDGs. “We will accelerate our achievement of MDGs and work to build consensus on a set of measurable and achievable goals under the post-2015 development framework,” she said.
Raising her voice for addressing climate change, she said: “It’s our national priorities.” Bangladesh would raise voice for migration, sustainable use of maritime resources and international trade dividends for LDCs, she said.
SEPTEMBER 26, 2014