H.E. MR. M. MORSHED KHAN, M.P.
FOREIGN MINISTER OF BANGLADESH
AT THE UNGA GENERAL DEBATE
New York, 18 September 2002
May 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.
This 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.
Bangladesh 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
These 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.
Bangladesh 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
Since 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.
As 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 to CEDAW.
Excellent 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.
We may still have a long way to go, but we believe we are on the right track.
At 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.
I 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.
In 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.
In 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 Council resolutions.
In 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.
On 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.
I thank you, Mr. President.