by H.E. Mr. M. Morshed Khan, M.P., Foreign Minister
of Bangladesh at the United Nations General Assembly General Debate
New York, 18 September 2002
I begin by extending you warm congratulations upon
your election. We have every confidence that your
stewardship of our proceedings will yield fruitful
results. Credit is due to your predecessor, Mr.
Han Seung Soo for his deft handling of our affairs.
We also felicitate the Secretary-General for the
leadership he has shown during the past year across
a very broad range of subjects. His inaugural remarks
that have set the tone for our deliberations are
truly praiseworthy. We welcome the new Members this
year, Switzerland and East Timor, and look forward
to working closely with them.
has been, as we all are painfully aware, a very
difficult year. September 11, 2001 witnessed a dastardly
act of barbaric terrorism. It also united peace-loving
peoples all over the world as never before. As we
continue our struggle to prevent the resurgence
of such atrocities, we must also address ourselves
seriously to the task of rooting out the causes
that spawn such behaviour. Any action in this respect
should be based on the widest possible international
consensus built through consultations.
has been, and shall always be, a committed and active
partner in the coalition against terrorism. We have
taken every necessary step to share information
and assist in the curbing of terror. We have sought
to implement Security Council Resolution 1373, which
we ourselves helped draft and adopt as a Council
Member last year. At a regional level, we are presently
examining ways and means of further strengthening
the SAARC Convention on terrorism. Terror is totally
unconnected to any faith or region. It is a global
phenomenon that requires to be tackled by means
that are both legitimate and consensual.
include the promotion of democracy and democratic
values, respect for human rights and the rule of
law, peaceful resolution of conflicts and peace-building,
cooperation of equitable economic development, eradication
of poverty, equality of gender, measures aimed at
confidence-building, mutual respect among races
and peoples, and harmony not clashes between cultures.
These are the main pillars on which we must build
a world where hope will, reign in place of despair.
In the construction of this edifice, the architect
must be the, United Nations, which with its charter,
principles and objectives, is the greatest institution
crafted by human-kind.
is relentless in the pursuit of these goals both
nationally and internationally. Our problems, as
all are aware, are many, and varied. Of roughly
the size of the State of Wisconsin in the United
States, we have a population of 130 million which
makes us one of the largest nations in the world.
Centuries of colonial exploitation had rendered
us with inadequate infrastructures and resources,
and constrained us by the claptrap of poverty. Subject
to the vagaries of nature, our economy was a gamble
in monsoons. Soon after our independence in 1971,
we were perceived as a "bottom-less basket
then, we have come a long way. We have dedicated
ourselves whole-heartedly to improving the quality
of life of our people, and to their development.
Our policies were grounded in certain values dear
to our hearts. We acted in the firm belief that
development is only possible against a matrix of
democracy, human rights and rule of law; that structures
and institutions in society must be inclusive, participatory
and accountable; and that growth must be pro-poor,
pro-environment, pro-equity and pro-women. In our
view tolerance between religions and appreciation
of differing opinions must be imbedded in the social
psyche. Our rich intellectual heritage and cultural
tradition were the source of home-grown innovative
ideas such as micro-credit and special educational
projects that enabled us to initiate a quiet revolution
in our society that has led to the process of a
huge societal transformation.
a result, we were able to achieve many successes
that have been widely acclaimed. Despite our being
a traditional society, through effective family-planning
programmes we were able to cut population growth
- rate by 50% over the last two decades. In agriculture,
we now produce sufficient food-grains to feed our
entire people. We have invested heavily in human-resources
development and provided massive budgetary allocations
to primary and secondary education. Schooling up
to twelfth Grade is free for girl students, and
all are awarded stipends. Gender mainstreaming is
a major policy-thrust. Womens empowerment in Bangladesh
receives the highest priority. This is mainly achieved
through initiatives such as special provisions for
education for girl children, employment of women
in garment industry and micro-credit generating
self-employment for women. Global recognition to
these endeavours were manifest in our recent election
cooperation exists between the government and civil
society. Bangladesh hosts some of the world's largest
and most active NGOs. In our development process,
we are ourselves in the driver's seat. A mix of
appropriate macro-economic policies and effective
utilization of external assistance has vastly reduced
our dependence on foreign aid. A document at Monterrey
entitled "Successful Development: models for
the 21st Century" says & I quote: "The
lesson in Bangladesh is that ODA -when applied in
conjunction with a country's efforts to resolve
its own development challenges - can yield dramatic
results". Today what we seek is not compassion,
largesse, or charity, but greater market access
for our manufactures, fairer trade and more investments.
may still have a long way to go, but we believe
we are on the right track.
an international level we are striving to reinforce
mutually beneficial and cooperative relations with
all countries. We are seeking, in concert with our
development partners, to achieve the Millennium
Development Goals. Special efforts made and successes
achieved in Monterrey, Johannesburg and in the Summit
on Children give us cause for hope. It is now important
for all of us to seriously get down to implementing
the promises made and achieving targets set. We
are happy that our image abroad is one of a responsible,
politically stable, moderate, democratic and constructive
member of the international community. We have actively
engaged our neighbours in the development of cooperation
and understanding. As you will recall, it was President
Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh who first conceived of
the concept of South Asian Regional Cooperation.
Today, besides this, our Prime Minister, Begum Khaleda
Zia is also committed to bringing to fruition the
Asian Cooperation Dialogue. As a demonstration of
our commitment to global stability and peace, we
have voluntarily given up the nuclear option and
joined the NPT and CTBT. We actively participate
in peace-keeping operations, today being one of
the UN's largest contributors of peace-keepers.
should note, though, that there are certain issues
that continue to trouble us. In South Asia, our
own region, the volatility of the situation between
two nuclear-capable countries is deeply worrisome.
Bangladesh encourages all concerned in South Asia
to exercise restraint and seek solution to their
differences through dialogue and meaningful engagement.
Afghanistan, after emerging from the most destructive
episode in its history, the country is yet to be
provided the wherewithal for recovery and reconstruction.
The international community must redouble its efforts
to secure peace across Afghanistan and accelerate
the reconstruction and rebuilding of the country.
Unless we do so the long-term security and stability
of our region will remain uncertain.
the Middle East, the continued denial of the rights
of the Palestinian people to their own State and
freedom hugely concern us. The continued illegal
occupation of Palestinian land, trampling of human-rights
and atrocities perpetrated against the Palestinian
people by Israel must end immediately. Serious efforts
must be resumed to seek a comprehensive solution
to the problem that addresses the legitimate concerns
of the Palestinian people. We welcome the announcement
made in Baghdad with regard to the return of the
weapons' inspectors, and see this as a significant
step towards fulfilling obligations under Security
Africa, the havoc wrought by ethnic conflict, disease
and famine is most disturbing. The financial turmoil
in Latin America is a matter of anxiety. Commitment
to LDCs remain largely unmet. The existence of trade-distorting
subsidies that impede development is agonizingly
noteworthy. Restrictions on the movement of factors
of production including manpower remain a major
impediment to progress. Lack of consideration of
emotional and human aspects of people's mobility
across frontiers remain a source of pain. The concept
of a Global Fund for Poverty Alleviation through
some form of international taxation is also worth
considering. These are subjects where we, with our
limited capacity, can do little to influence, but
in our modest way, we will do our very best to help.
Those who can, must do more.
our part, we will play an effective role, as we
are indeed doing, in all international fora. In
the WTO we will continue to work with others to
implement the development objectives of the Doha
Round and in the pursuit of fairer trade. We will
cooperate with the international monetary institutions,
Agencies, Funds and Programmes to promote the welfare
of our people and those of comparable milieu. Within
the United Nations we shall endeavour in every possible
way to strengthen its institutions, and support
reforms that will render them more participatory,
representative and democratic. These are pledges,
ingrained in the vision for the future, of the Government
of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia. These are commitments
that are at the core of the Bangladeshi ethos.
thank you, Mr. President.
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