Anwarul Chowdhury to lead U.N.’s island
By Ela Dutt
Anwarul K. Chowdhury, under secretary general at the United Nations,
on Jan. 20 outlined plans to foster agreement among various international
partners attending talks later this month in the Bahamas on ways to
improve conditions facing small-island developing states.
| U.N. Under Secretary General Anwarul K. Chowdhury
“I am working with my colleagues throughout the U.N. system as well
as civil society and private sector organizations to come in and support
the small islands,” said Chowdhury, who last September was appointed
secretary general of the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked
and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International
Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation.
That meeting will be held from Aug. 20 to Sept. 4 in Mauritius.
Briefing reporters in New York on an interregional meeting scheduled
to run from Jan. 26 to Jan. 30 in Nassau, Chowdhury, who is of Ban-gladeshi
origin, noted the special vulnerabilities of small-island developing
states, which often suffer from factors associated with remoteness,
size, limited economic opportunities, vulnerability to natural disasters
When it comes to island nations, “we generally associate our thinking
of them with their idyllic natural beauty but we do not consider how
fragile their economies are, how fragile their ecosystems are, how
vulnerable they are to natural disasters,” said Chowdhury, who is
also U.N. High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked
Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
The Nassau conference will consolidate the results of previous regional
gatherings with a view to producing a strategy paper for consideration
at a meeting in April to finalize preparations for the Mauritius talks.
Chowdhury said he would galvanize participants in the Bahamas event,
which will involve not only representatives of small island countries,
but also other development partners such as regional organizations
and donor states.
“As the secretary general of the conference, I’m trying to have an
informal exchange among all stakeholders in the Bahamas to see what
each other are thinking of for the Mauritius outcome,” he said.
“So this is intended to really start the dialogue very early in the
With development cooperation facing numerous challenges, he called
for a prioritized approach to key points. “We need to focus on issues
that are of utmost importance,” he said. “My effort is to get a good
outcome which is implementable, which is focused, which gets the partnership
---- and effective partnership ---- of all stakeholders.”
Prior to his current appointment, Chowdhury was ambassador and permanent
representative of Bangladesh to the U.N. His experience in multilateral
affairs includes two terms as president of the U.N. Security Council
(2000-01), where he headed the council’s first-ever missions to Kosovo
Chowdhury’s other prominent leadership roles included service as president
of the executive board of the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), vice
president of the U.N. Economic and Social Council, and chair of the
Fifth (Administrative and Budgetary) Committee, U.N. General Assembly.
The under secretary general also led the U.N.’s groundbreaking initiative
on culture of peace, chairing the nine-month-long negotiations that
produced the landmark document, ‘Declaration and Program of Action
on a Culture of Peace,’ adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1999.
Subsequently, he guided efforts resulting in the declaration of the
‘International Decade for the Culture of Peace and Non-violence for
the Children of the World (2001-10).’ In recognition of his many contributions
to such causes, Chowdhury had been honored with the U Thant Peace
Award and the UNESCO Gandhi Gold Medal for Culture of Peace.