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Stop war: Bangladesh PM to UNGA

"In the past, we have seen a vicious cycle of promises being made and broken. We must now change this course."

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Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given utmost importance to dialogue to resolve crises and disputes, urging the world community to stop any arms race, war, and sanctions for building a peaceful world, the PMO in Dhaka said.

“I urge to the conscience of the world community- stop the arms race, war, and sanctions, ensure food and security of the children; build peace,” Hasina said.

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On Friday, she made this call while delivering her speech at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at the UN headquarters in New York.

“We believe that antagonism like war or economic sanctions, counter-sanctions can never bring good to any nation,” she said, adding “Dialogue is the best way to resolve crises and disputes.”

She said: “We believe without addressing root causes of conflict, we cannot sustain peace.”

Wanting to see a peaceful world with enhanced cooperation and solidarity, shared prosperity, and collective actions, Hasina said “We share one planet, and we owe it to our future generations to leave it in a better shape.”
She added: “We want the end of the Ukraine-Russia conflict.”

She noted that in punishing one country with sanctions, and counter-sanctions, the entire world including women and children is punished.
“Its impact is not limited to a country, rather puts the lives and livelihoods of the people at greater risk, infringe their human rights; people are deprived of food, shelter, healthcare, and education,” she said, adding, “Children suffer the most in particular. Their future is lost in darkness.”

The 77th session of the UNGA is taking place from September 13 to 27 at the UN Headquarters, in the first in-person format since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic with heads of states and governments from 193 Member States.

The session is taking place at a time when overlapping crises unfold around the world with food insecurity looming, humanitarian needs deepening, climate goals remaining largely unmet and inequality worsening.

Alongside the Russia-Ukraine war, the peace and stability, climate change, food insecurity, the Covid-19 pandemic, Palestine, and migration issues among others concerning the global as well as Bangladesh perspectives were prominently featured in Sheikh Hasina’s speech.

As the world begins to recover from the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Sheikh Hasina said, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has plunged the world into a collective uncertainty.

“Growing food insecurity, energy, and economic crisis are affecting us all,” she said.

She observed that countries that are already in vulnerable situations needing support to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will now face even more challenges to achieve SDGs.

“Today we’ve reached a critical time when mutual solidarity must be shown more than at any time in the past. We need to prove that in times of crisis, the UN is the cornerstone of the multilateral system.

“Therefore, in order to gain the trust and confidence of the people at all levels, the UN must lead from the front and work to fulfill the expectations of all,” she said.

In this context, she mentioned the Global Crisis Response Group (GCRC) and said “as a champion of this group, I am working with other world leaders to determine a global solution commensurate with the gravity and depth of the current situation”.

She said Bangladesh is fully committed to complete disarmament, including the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and that is why it has ratified the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2019. “We’ve consistently implemented our commitment to peacekeeping operations”, she added.

“As a reflection of our peace-centric foreign policy,” she said Bangladesh has consistently demonstrated its commitment to UN peacekeeping operations as the leading troops and police contributing country, presently being the largest.

They (peacekeepers) help maintain peace, support capacity building of national and local institutions, protect the civilians from harm, empower women and other vulnerable communities and build a sustainable society, she said, adding that while performing their duties, many of them died.

She said as the current Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, her country is doing its part by creating a platform for multi-stakeholder engagements in support of the conflict-affected countries.

“We are committed to continuing our efforts in strengthening the women, peace, and security (WPS) agenda,” she said.

Mentioning that Bangladesh has adopted a “zero tolerance” policy on terrorism and violent extremism in its land, she said, “We do not allow our territory to be used by any party to incite or cause terrorist acts or harm to others.”

She also called upon the member states to work together for the conclusion of an internationally binding instrument to tackle cyber-crimes and cyber-violence.

Mentioning the brutal and pathetic tragedy of her life on 15 August 1975 when her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of her family members were killed, she said “So, myself as a sufferer, I can rightly realize the pain and agony that people endure due to the horrors of war, killings, coups, and conflicts.”

She said: “Therefore, I don’t want war, I want peace, I want welfare for humankind. I want economic development for people. I want to ensure a peaceful world, developed and prosperous life for future generations.”
She added: “My earnest appeal to you, ‘stop the war, stop the arms race. May the values of humanity be upheld.”

“Let us join our hands together and build a better future leaving no one behind,” she added.

Hasina also called upon the UN and the global leaders to take effective measures for sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas, warning the global community that if the problem persists further it may affect stability and security beyond its region.

“The ongoing political turmoil and armed conflicts in the country have made the repatriation of the displaced Rohingyas more difficult. I hope the United Nations will play an effective role in this regard,” she said.

She told the gathering of world leaders that last month Bangladesh witnessed the five years of the 2017 mass exodus of the Rohingyas to Bangladesh from their home country.

“Not a single Rohingya was repatriated to their ancestral home Myanmar, despite our bilateral engagements with Myanmar, discussions with partners in trilateral format and engagements with the UN and other partners to assist Myanmar to create necessary conditions for safe and dignified repatriation,” she said.

To ensure a permanent solution to the Rohingya issue, she said “I shall now seek your attention to the forcibly displaced Rohingya peoples from Myanmar.”

Hasina said the prolonged presence of the Rohingyas in Bangladesh has caused serious ramifications on the economy, environment, security, and socio-political stability in Bangladesh.

“Uncertainty over repatriation has led to widespread frustration. Cross-border organized crimes including human and drug trafficking are on the rise. This situation can potentially fuel radicalization. If the problem persists further, it may affect the security and stability of the entire region, and beyond,” she said.

She also spoke on the impact of climate change, one of the biggest threats to humankind. “In the past, we have seen a vicious cycle of promises being made and broken. We must now change this course.”

She said, “Our national plans and policies on climate change and natural disasters are gender responsive and take into account the critical role of women in adaptation and mitigation.”

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