STATEMENT H.E. MR. M. MORSHED KHAN, M.P.
FOREIGN MINISTER OF BANGLADESH
AT THE 58TH REGULAR SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, 29th September 2003
I congratulate you on your election. I wish you every
success in the formidable task of leading the UN to continued relevance
and credibility in these stormy times. I am confident you will build
upon the legacy left by your predecessor Mr.
We commend the
Secretary General for his stewardship in these difficult
The United Nations has been faced
with extremely challenging situations over the past year. We have lost
one of our most outstanding men of peace - Mr. Sergio Vieira
de Mellco and many of his colleagues. There must be no repeat of
such senseless and despicable acts.
The new Millennium, which we all heralded with so
much hope, has been plunged into turmoil. Intervening events in the
last three years have changed our world forever. They have left us groping
for solutions. Eleventh of September 2001, the Afghan and the Iraq war, the open confrontation between Israel and Hamas and the African civil wars shape some of the dimensions
of this world disorder. Driving these crises are new realities- an all
out offensive against terrorism - the arguments for pre-emption and
unilateral action as an option for security - the targeting of Islamic
radicalism and its fall out as religious profiling. Somewhere, the oin of global cooperation has been debased.
Each year we come to this august Assembly to reaffirm
our faith in the UN and our commitment to the purposes and principles
of the Charter. Today, we pause to grapple with doubts that have arisen
about the relevance of the world body. I hasten to add that for Bangladesh this pause is
short-lived. The cardinal question is not what is
wrong with the United Nations but what is right with it and, how we
can make it serve our purpose despite seeming setback.
Three compelling factors stand out. First, universality
All 191 States of the world wish to be within the fold of the international
community. Second, the flip side of globalization.
The bottom line is that no one state alone can deal with the intricate
problems facing our world- be it a dysfunction of the collective security
system - an inteflocking economic, monetary,
financial and trade grid - the challenges of globalization - international
terrorism - environmental degradation - new diseases, trans-border organized
crimes etc. The conclusion is clear. The UN is indispensable as the
central organ for the collective management of world affairs. Third,
legitimacy. As has been underlined, the greatest
strength of the UN remains its legitimacy founded on the bedrock principles
of international law. There is no substitute for such legitimacy. It
is in this gauge that we look to the United Nations.
But as the Secretary-General
notes in his report on the implementation of the Millennium
Development Goals, "the war exposed deep divisions in the international
community, with accusations of double agendas". He goes on to observe
that" the war in Iraq
brought to the fore a host of questions of principle and practice that
challenge the United Nations and the international community as a whole."
This is a sad commentary on the state of the world today.
In contrast, we have noted that
wherever the UN was allowed to take its rightful role and responsibility
and where it was provided with necessary support, it has achieved success,
durable peace and stability. The experience of East Timor, Sierra Leone,
the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name only a few, have vindicated
the UN's legitimacy, role and relevance. War can be
won by military might. The chdienge
lies in winning peace. This is what the UN with over half a century
of experience in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace building is
best placed to do.
We in Bangladesh repose our full
trust and total confidence in UN's capacity to address matters of international
and global concern including peace and security. We see the UN as the
source of inspiration, initiative and support in our national, regional
and international endeavours. It is in this
forum that we establish common standards, universal values and shared
programmes. In a globalizing world no nation
is an island, none can prosper alone. We therefore believe the Organization
deserves the support of all of our nations, in a more active and demonstrable
way. Today, more than ever before.
The Secretary-General deserves our appreciation for bringing
the focus of the Organization back to its socio-economic agenda. We
welcome his report on the implementation of the Millennium
Development Goals. His assessment of the progress in achieving
the Millennium Development Goals is sobering. While signs of progress
for a given region are noted, the road to 2015 is long for many nations.
The ESCAP-UNDP report on MDGs has, for instance, regretted
the worrying declines in ODA flows to the least developed countries.
It described this as "unacceptable and unconscionable". The
report also called for reforms in the international trade system to
help the poorest countries.
In this backdrop, the setback at Cancun
warrants early resumption of the negotiations. A breakthrough would
require courageous decisions and significant compromises. Our commitment
to the MDGs also requires that these negotiations be concluded successfully. The global economic situation
today dictates equitable policies and fair practices in trade that have been sought in the Doha Round. The economic survival
and the socio-economic stability of many nations depend on how we handle
the post Cancun challenges. The stakes here are
very high for all of us both in the short and the
The development policies and programmes
of the Government led by Prime Minister Khaleda
Zia underpin the Millennium Development Goals. Our resource
allocation in the social sector remains high and we have prepared a
three-year 'Economic Growth, Poverty Reduction and Social Development
Strategy.' This is a major initial policy framework. We look forward
to working closely with our development partners in its implementation.
The governance paradigm in the recent decades has happily
embraced the fundamental tenets of democracy. In Bangladesh, we have the
necessary institutions in place. We are reforming them, modernizing
them and expanding them. As a thriving democracy ourselves, we support
UN efforts at promoting rule of law, good governance and human rights.
We believe all human rights including the right to development should be pursued in a comprehensive manner with a holistic
The past one-year has seen serious developments in the
international peace and security situation especially in Africa
and the Middle East. Bangladesh has taken a positive and constructive
approach to these issues. We have consistently supported the efforts
of the United Nations in this regard. We have done this as a matter
of our commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
In practical terms, Bangladesh has remained a major partner of the
United Nations in its peace and security mission. Over the past two
participated in UN Peacekeeping operations across four
continents including the most perilous ones. We are currently among
the largest contributor of troops and other personnel to UN peacekeeping
operations with a total exceeding three
and a-half thousand in 8 missions in Cote d'Ivoire, Western Sahara,
Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia Eritrea, Kosovo,
Timor L'Este and Georgia. We are committed to take part in the
proposed UN mission in Liberia.
The people of Iraq inherit an ancient and glorious
civilization. The present situation in Iraq should be resolved preserving the interests
of the Iraqi people and longterm peace, security
and stability of the region. Bangladesh reiterates its support for the sovereignty,
territorial integrity and political independence of the country. We
stand ready to take part in the reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq in the true spirit
of brotherhood that characterizes the relationship
between our two nations. We reiterate our call for ensuring a clear,
effective and credible role for the United Nations in Iraq's transition to democracy
and in the country's reconstruction. Bangladesh supports the forthcoming international
conference for Iraq
reconstruction convened by the UN and looks forward to a successful
The recent developments in the Middle
East are extremely worrying. It is clear that
the progress made from Oslo through Madrid and ever since is now seriously threatened.
The Road Map that the Palestinian side accepted with great courage has
not been seriously accepted or implemented by the other side.
Pre-conditions have been imposed making peace
difficult. The Israeli practices - that are well known to this Assembly - continue to be applied
in occupied Palestine. There
are gross and systematic violations of international humanitarian law
and fundamental human rights. The vicious and criminal pronouncement
to expel and even assassinate President Yasser
Arafat calls for global condemnation in the strongest terms. They run
counter to global demand for a peaceful settlement and establishment
of a Palestinian State to live side by side with
Bangladesh reiterates her
support for early establishment of a sovereign, independent State of
Palestine in accordance with relevant UN resolutions.
We call for a more active role of the UN, and we ask the Security Council
to assume its responsibilities toward the people of Palestine.
We urge the diplomatic Quartet to intensify their efforts to prevent
further escalation, address the threats against President Arafat, Nobel
Peace Laureate and undisputed leader of the Palestinian people. We urge
that the peace process be restored to its track.
We call for renewed efforts toward a comprehensive solution of the Middle
East issues in a given time frame.
terrorism remains a scourge. In the post -September 11 context,
it has taken centre-stage of our global concerns. We reiterate our unequivocal
condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Bangladesh is party to several
international conventions on combating terrorism. We are processing
accession to the remaining. We are actively involved in the elaboration
of an Additional Protocol to the SAARC Regional Convention on the Suppression
of Terrorism. It will strengthen the Convention by incorporating provisions
including those contained in the recent Security Council resolutions,
in particular resolution 1373.
Bangladesh attaches great
emphasis on disarmament We believe that it
is closely related to international peace and security. We also believe
that it has a direct relationship with development. Bangladesh is party to all international disarmament
treaties covering nuclear, biological, chemical and conventional weapons.
Seeking general and complete disarmament is our Constitutional commitment.
International peace and security, human security and the security of
our planet have been the prime considerations in making our policy choices.
We have supported all efforts at disarmament.
We continue to believe in the value of all measures, even partial at
arms control and disarmament. Our conviction has been
vindicated by the progress in the control and ban of a number
of weapons. The multilateral track including the Conference on Disarmament
needs to be revived.
Bangladesh has renounced
all Weapons of Mass Destruction - Biological, Chemical
and Nuclear. The situation along the borders of the two nuclear-armed
South Asian countries has been a matter of global concern. As a close
neighbour, we too have a
legitimate cause for concern. In this context,
we applaud the Secretary-General for his recent call for elimination
of all nuclear weapons. The imperatives, in view also of the threats
to the existing regimes and their implications do not require elaboration
in this House. We would thus urge a renewed consideration of the IC)
opinion and the report of the Canberra Commission.
In our region,
as elsewhere- particularly when we are challenged by abject poverty,
hunger, illiteracy, lack of safe drinking water, disease - our priorities
should be socio-economic development; not nuclearisation.
We need to foster cooperation; not prepare for confrontation.
It is with this
thought that Shaheed
President Ziaur Rahman
conceived of institutionalised regional cooperation
leading to the emergence of SAARC. We firmly believe in the value and,
indeed the imperative of cooperation in our region. We hope, together
we shall also be able to establish a peaceful, friendly and prosperous
South Asia. We would draw inspiration from other
parts of the world where regional economic integrations have worked
well for their people.
In today's world perhaps
the most potential sources of conflict of interest within countries
and among them would centre on natural resources, in particular, fresh
water. We call for management of shared resources without
depriving or causing damage to the economy or ecology of any of the
countries concerned. For instance, there should not be any unilateral
withdrawal of water from the international rivers,
as such action would cause great damage to the environment, agriculture,
industries and overall economy and ecology of other countries. All actions
in such areas should conform to international law and norms of equity,
justice and fair play. Any decision with regard to shared natural wealth
should be through consultation among all concerned countries.
itself closely with the problems of Africa.
We believe in the efficacy of South-South Cooperation as a useful method
of benefiting from one another among societies of comparable milieu.
The launching of the African Union has been inspiring, that of NEPAD,
encouraging. We are confident the leadership of Africa
and the people will succeed in transforming the continent to a peaceful
and prosperous one. We have built greater knowledge, special bonds and
closer friendship with many of the African nations through our participation
in their peacekeeping and development efforts. Bangladesh will continue to work with them in
addressing the challenges of building durable peace and sustainable
problems facing the land-locked and small island developing
States require special attention. We hope the Almaty
conference has created a fresh impetus to address their needs. We must
also accord support to countries that are in the process of
transition in their economies.
The nineties have seen a series
of major UN conferences. Each has adopted an elaborate
of action with clear and specific responsibilities at national, regional
and international levels. Monterrey, Johannesburg, and the Third UN Conference
on LDCs at Brussels have reinforced the earlier commitments.
The time now is to focus our
efforts - individual and collective - to implementing these Programmes of Action.
The United Nations
has, in the recent years made significant progress in reforming itself
in organizational and substantive terms. Further progress remains to
be achieved in various areas. There would be renewed demands
for Security Council reforms. We continue to maintain
that the reforms are essential to make the Council more representative,
democratic and effective.
There would be ideas for further reform
of the Assembly and other major organs. The thoughts on reviewing the
Trusteeship Council could be revived. We need
certainly to go further. Bangladesh
welcomes the proposal of the Secretary-General to establish a High-Level
Panel of Eminent Personalities for examining the challenges to peace
and security. We look forward to their report. In this regard, we would
underline the importance of preserving multilateralism and consensus.
Decisions on budget cuts must not
compromise the functioning of the Organization; budgetary exercises
must not adversely affect the interests of the developing countries
in particular the least developed ones. There should be adequate provision
for mandated activities in the developing countries.
It will remain our goal to bring the UN to the centre
of global development efforts. ECOSOC can play a crucial
role in this regard. It must examine innovative,
and creative methods in its work. Bangladesh
has sought election to the ECOSOC during this session. As we have done
in the past in the ECOSOC, we seek to contribute to the pursuit of the
UN's social and economic agenda as a member. We hope we shall receive
your valuable support.
Development Goals set a number of achievable targets in the most pressing
is committed to achieving them for our people. We shall also work closely
with all other fellow nations so that these objectives are
realized equally for them all. We aspire to go beyond. We urge
continued focus on the implementation of the outcome of the 1990s
cycle of international conferences. They represent a comprehensive
agenda for humanity for our century. We must follow them up for our
present, for our future generations and for the progress of humankind.
I thank you, Mr. President.