Hasina addresses UNGA

UNB, New York
Saturday, September 24th, 2011
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday unveiled a six-point multi-dimensional peace model for championing democracy and people’s empowerment, coinciding with the UNGA theme “Mediation in the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes”.

The six multipliers of her proposed model include eradication of poverty and hunger, reduction of inequality, mitigation of deprivation, inclusion of excluded people, acceleration of human development and elimination of terrorism.

“In fact, my life-time experiences have inspired me to come up with a new peace model. I call it the ‘People’s empowerment and a peace-centric development model’ that reaffirms all people should be treated equally and emphasises the scope of human capabilities which can be realised through peace,” Hasina said in her address at the 66th UN General Assembly.

Many Heads of state and government were present in the august house as she delivered her speech in Bangla during the UNGA general debate at the United Nations headquarters.

The prime minister said prosperity is achievable with the removal of injustices in an environment of peace. “This is possible by individual nations through sincere implementation of what is right, or sometimes under the guidance of the UN.”

Amid clapping from the audience, she told the world body, “Let us all try to test this model of peace which I believe has the potential to transform our world of seven billion people into one where our future generations may prosper and live in happiness.”

Reposing her trust in peace as the basis for development, she said, “I believe peace prevails when justice prevails. Therefore, justice at home and abroad is important for ensuring a peaceful mediation and settlement of disputes.”

In her about 20-minute statement, Hasina touched upon some vital issues of national importance including settlement of long running border problem with India through discussion, mediated settlement of the BDR mutiny and trial of the perpetrators responsible for 1971 war crimes.

She sought international support to pursue the efforts being made to change the fate of the people and develop socio-economic security.

“The LDCs like Bangladesh need international support. The support must come from granting us market access, removing trade barriers, fulfilment of ODA, combating climate change, as well as giving us equal voice in the Bretton Woods Institutions,” she said.

The commitments made in Istanbul this May on agriculture, energy, infrastructure, water and migration would also strengthen the economic stability of the LDCs, the PM continued.

“Now, it is time for the development partners to implement the commitments made in Monterrey, Paris, and Brussels before the conclusion of the Doha Development Round. Support must continue to enable LDCs to fulfil their MDGs.”

She said that in COP-17 in Durban this year, the nations must have a binding agreement on cuts of greenhouse gas emissions, burden sharing, relocation of climate migrants, free transfer of technologies, and real contribution to the internationally agreed “Climate Fund”.

Hasina reiterated her demand that Bangla be made one of the official languages at the UN.

“Bangla is spoken by over 300 million people worldwide. I earnestly appeal to you to back my proposal to declare Bangla as one of the official languages of the United Nations,” she told the general assembly.

She also sought UN support for Bangladesh’s annual flagship resolution “A Culture of Peace”, which she launched in 2000 during her first stint as prime minister.

She said that in the UN Peace Building Commission, as NAM Coordinator, Bangladesh is always advocating peace building, development and preventive diplomacy in post-conflict societies.

“Sadly, we remain woefully underrepresented at planning and strategy levels of the DPKO, an issue calling for a speedy resolution.”

Hasina welcomed South Sudan as the 193rd member of the United Nations and congratulated the people of the newest state on attaining their freedom and independence.

She said as member of the UN Human Rights Council and the ECOSOC, Bangladesh consciously promote democracy, secularism, justice and rule of law; and equal rights of women, children, minorities and other vulnerable groups.

Moreover, she said, as the executive body member of UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNESCO and FAO, Bangladesh is committed to setting global norms and standards in development practices.

On resolving bilateral issues with India, the PM said the government has mediated and signed MoUs with India on the border demarcation, an issue that had been pending for the last 64 years obstructing the everyday life of the Bangladeshi people.

“I am committed to settling all our problems with neighbouring India through discussion,” she said.

Describing the 2009 BDR mutiny as one of the most dangerous challenges, Hasina said this time also she chose a mediated settlement, avoiding possible further loss of life.

“As a result, we have developed our national capacity for mediation with a pool of retired chief justices and legal experts, including women, who can act as arbitrators and mediators.”

About the trial of the war criminals, she said since there can be no peace without justice, the government has established an independent International Crimes Tribunal to try those responsible for war crimes committed during the Liberation War in 1971.

“Their eventual punishment will strengthen our democracy, demonstrating that the state is capable of just retribution,” the PM said.

As a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, she said, her government believes in the statute’s provision of bringing perpetrators to justice. “It is the only way to heal the wrongs of the past, and bring national reconciliation.”

Reiterating her administration’s “zero tolerance policy against terrorism”, she said the government’s aim is to break the nexus between terrorism, extremism and radicalisation, and eliminate them all from Bangladesh, a state party to all UN counterterrorism conventions.

Referring to the winning of the UN award for MDG-4 on reducing child mortality last year, Hasina said Bangladesh is on track on MDG-1 on poverty alleviation, MDG-2 on universal primary education, MDG-3 on gender equality and MDG-5 on reducing maternal mortality.

“Our Poverty Reduction Strategy is in tandem with the MDGs and intends to raise 12 million people out of poverty by 2015.”

On women’s empowerment, she said education for girls is free up to class XII and steps are on for their free tuition till graduation.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, PM’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad and PM’s son Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed and daughter Saima Hossain were present on the occasion.

UNB, New York

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