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H.E. Mr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Advisor

26 September 2008

Statement Summary

FAKHRUDDIN AHMED, Chief Advisor of the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh, said food security, democracy and development were three interrelated issues of fundamental importance to the welfare of the citizens of Bangladesh and other least developed countries.  Food insecurity could disrupt the core of a democratic policy and derail development priorities.

The recent rise in global food prices had severely impacted Bangladesh, as domestic rice prices had spiked by nearly 60 per cent during the year through February 2007.  This had occurred against the backdrop of two devastating floods and a tropical cyclone that had devastated one of the country’s key harvests.  Food insecurity was measured by increased instability, as well as deprivation, and making food available for all at affordable prices was a cardinal responsibility for all Governments.

On democracy and corruption, he said the Bangladeshi Government announced a road map for staging a truly democratic election, soon after assuming office in January 2007.  This was not an easy task, as decades of corruption had seriously undermined the country’s democracy and economy.  The fight against corruption was the first step in a long and difficult process, and the Government would continue to work under the auspices of the independent Anti-Corruption Commission.

The Government electronically registered more than 80 million voters with photographs and fingerprints in 11 months, and the Election Commission trained more than 500,000 election workers.  However, an election was only one pillar of democratic governance, and the Government had also made the judiciary fully independent, created the National Human Rights Commission, and enacted a Right to Information law that provided transparency.  The Bangladesh Election Commission had successfully held local mayoral elections last month, and was fully committed to free and fair parliamentary elections on 18 December of this year.

On the food crisis, he said that situation would return, perhaps with greater intensity and frequency, unless the international community put short- and long-term measures in place to prevent the recurrence.  As a recognized least developed country, Bangladesh urged the Secretary-General to consider the possibility of creating a “Global Food Bank”.  Such a mechanism would allow countries facing a short-term production deficit to borrow food grains on preferential terms.  After overcoming the shortfall, those countries could return the quantum to the bank.

Though economic progress had been made since the adoption of the 2001 Brussels Programme of Action, least developed countries still faced serious structural hurdles in their development efforts, and were acutely susceptible to external economic shocks, natural and man-made disasters.  It was unlikely that least developed countries would achieve the overarching goals of the Brussels Programme and the Millennium Development Goals unless the international commitments for the countries, in the areas of aid and trade, were fully delivered.  He urged Member States to fully support the holding of the fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, planned to be held before the end of the decade.

[Source: GA/10756]