Extraordinary economic dev among Bangladesh’s many achievements: UN says on Independence Day
Congratulating Bangladesh, the United Nations today said Bangladesh has many accomplishments — extraordinary economic development, a significant cultural legacy, leadership on a global stage for climate vulnerable countries, and immense generosity in welcoming and hosting nearly a million Rohingya refugees. “The hospitality of Bangladesh’s diverse people is just one of the many facets of a country that my colleagues and I have been fortunate to experience every day,” UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis said in a press statement on the occasion of the country’s Independence Day. “On behalf of the United Nations, I warmly congratulate the people of Bangladesh on the 52nd anniversary of independence,” she said. Over the last 52 years, Bangladesh has made impressive and remarkable achievements: evolving from a war-torn country to one of the leading economic powers in South Asia, standing at the threshold of upcoming graduation from least developed countries (LDCs) in 2026, and planned achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDG) by 2030, she said. The UN fully supports Bangladesh’s commitments to economic and sustainable development and appreciates the strong and long-lasting relationship with Bangladesh and our shared values. Also read: PM Hasina greets freedom fighters on Independence Day The constitution of the country, that was adopted even before Bangladesh had formally become a member of the United Nations in 1974, guarantees fundamental human rights. The right to freedom of speech, religion, movement and assembly, the right to speak one's own language and other rights that are in line with the UN charter, said the UNRC. “Wishing you all a Happy Independence Day!” — she said.
Recognise March 25 as International Genocide Day: PM urges UN
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday urged all international community including the United Nations to recognise March 25 as the International Genocide Day. “Internationally we want that …March 25 will get recognition as the International Genocide Day,” she said. The Prime Minister said this while delivering her introductory speech in the Awami League Parliamentary Board (ALPB) meeting at her official residence Ganabhaban. On the night of March 25 in 1971, the Pakistani military junta resorted to mass killings and arson in Dhaka to implement their blueprint to thwart Awami League assuming office following its victory in the 1970 election. The night also witnessed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s proclamation of independence before he was arrested by the Pakistani troops and subsequently taken to West Pakistan. The Prime Minister said that Bangladesh had started its journey with this “wound (genocide).” Read more: Why hasn’t the UN recognised 1971 Bangladesh Genocide yet? She mentioned that Pakistani occupational forces had committed genocide over unarmed Bengalis. “They unleashed attacks on the people of Bangladesh in a horrific way and killed people for long nine months,” she said. In this connection, the Awami League chief said that some 30 lakh people embraced martyrdom, three crore people were forcibly became homeless. “They torched homes and one crore people took shelter in India as refugee,” she said. She said that there were dead bodies on the roads, bodies were eaten by jackals and dogs, and the people of the country saw that. “There was inhumane oppression on women, they were taken to the army camps,” she added. The Prime Minister said that Father of the nation had built a country ravaged by the war. “We also got the recognition as the least developed country during his three years and seven months tenure. It was unfortunate that the father of the nation was killed brutally.” She said that blood of the martyrs would never go in vain. “Our Independence that we got in exchange of millions of martyrs, we have attained the status of developing country, we want to build Bangladesh as a developed and prosperous country. It is our pledge to millions of martyrs and to our father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” she vowed. Read more: Genocide Day to be observed on Saturday In the attack on March 25, 1971 dubbed 'Operation Searchlight', the Pakistani forces mercilessly killed Bangalee members of the East Pakistan Rifles and police, students, teachers and common people. They killed people indiscriminately, set houses on fire and looted business establishments, leaving a trail of destruction. The day is being observed as Genocide Day officially for the seventh time in the country since the parliament unanimously adopted a resolution on March 11, 2017.
UN science report to provide stark climate warning
A major new United Nations report being released Monday is expected to provide a sobering reminder that time is running out if humanity wants to avoid passing a dangerous global warming threshold. The report by hundreds of the world’s top scientists is the capstone on a series that summarizes the research on global warming compiled since the Paris climate accord was agreed in 2015. It was approved by countries at the end of a week-long meeting of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in the Swiss town of Interlaken, meaning governments have accepted its findings as authoritative advice on which to base their actions. Also Read: UN ocean treaty talks resume with goal to save biodiversity At the start of the meeting U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned delegates that the planet is “ nearing the point of no return ” and they risk missing the internationally agreed limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) of global warming since pre-industrial times. That's because global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases keep increasing — mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and intensive agriculture — when in fact they need to decline quickly. Governments agreed in Paris almost eight years ago to try to limit temperature rise to 1.5 C or at least keep it well below 2 C (3.6 F). Since then scientists have increasingly argued that any warming beyond the lower threshold would put humanity at dire risk. Average global temperatures have already increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 19th century, but Guterres insisted last week that the 1.5 C target limit remains possible "with rapid and deep emissions reductions across all sectors of the global economy.” Monday's report comes after the IPCC made clear two years ago that climate change is clearly caused by human activity and refined its predictions for a range of possible scenarios depending on how much greenhouse gas continues to be released. The following year it published a report concluding that the impacts of global warming are already being felt and nearly half the world's population are "highly vulnerable to climate change.” Two months later it laid out what needs to be done to reduce the harm from warming that's already inevitable and prevent a further dangerous rise in temperatures; the sharp drop in cost of solar and wind power would make that easier, it noted. Three further special reports by the IPCC focused on the oceans, land and 1.5-degree target. The next round of reports won't be published until the second half of this decade, by when experts say it could be too late to take further measures allowing that ambitious goal to still be met. Governments agreed at last year's climate summit in Egypt to create a fund to help pay for the damage that a warming planet is inflicting on vulnerable countries, but failed to commit to new measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The new synthesis report published Monday will play a pivotal role when governments gather in Dubai in December for this year's U.N. climate talks. The meeting will be the first to take stock of global efforts to cut emissions since the Paris deal, and hear calls from poorer nations seeking more aid. Guterres, the U.N. chief, recently argued that fossil fuel companies should hand over some of their vast profits to help victims of climate change.
Governments criticized for keeping women from peace talks
On the eve of International Women’s Day, leading women’s rights campaigners at the United Nations and the African Union and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate criticized male-dominated governments Tuesday for excluding women from peace negotiations. They complained that governments are ignoring a U.N. resolution adopted in 2000 demanding equal participation for women in talks to end conflicts. Sima Bahous, head of the U.N. agency promoting gender equality, lamented “the regression in women’s rights.” She told the Security Council that “we have neither significantly changed the composition of peace tables, nor the impunity enjoyed by those who commit atrocities against women and girls.” Also Read: DigitALL: Role of tech in promoting gender equality highlighted this Women’s Day Bahous, executive director of UN Women, called for “a radical change of direction.” She said action should be taken to mandate the inclusion of women at every meeting and in every decision-making process, with consequences for non-compliance. And funds should be channeled to women’s groups in conflict-affected countries where the money is most needed, she said. The Security Council was assessing the state of the resolution it adopted on Oct. 31, 2000, that stresses the important role of women in preventing and resolving conflicts and demands their equal participation in all efforts to promote peace and security. It also calls on all parties to conflicts to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, especially rape and other forms of sexual abuse. Also Read: Loss due to women’s exclusion from digital world could grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025 without action: UN Chief Since the 20th anniversary of the resolution in 2020, Bahous said, Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have imposed “gender apartheid” and war in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region reportedly led to sexual violence “at a staggering scale.” Coups in conflict-affected countries in Africa’s Sahel and Sudan to Myanmar have dramatically shrunk the civic space for women’s organizations and activists, she added. The U.N. Commission on the Status of Women began its annual two-week session Monday focusing on closing gender gaps in technology and innovation. It is also examining digital harassment and disinformation aimed at women that fosters violent misogyny. Bahous cited a recent study that says politically motivated online abuse of women within Myanmar and from the country increased at least fivefold after that country's February 2021 coup. “This mainly takes the form of sexualized threats and the release of home addresses, contact details, and personal photos or videos of women who had commented positively on groups opposing military rule in Myanmar,” she said. Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, addressed the gender-based violence aspect of the U.N. resolution, saying that “more than 100 armed conflicts are raging around the world” and hard-won gains toward gender equality are being reversed. “This is no coincidence,” she said. “As respect for gender equality declines, violence rises.” Egger said the Red Cross sees “the brutal impact” every day of “sexual violence at the hands of arms bearers at shocking levels.” Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, who mobilized street protests against the brutality of the country’s long civil war and shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, told the council that “it has been proven time and again that men do make war but are unable to make peace themselves.” “Sadly, the conversation is the same in 2023,” she said. “How do we discuss the issue of peace and security and leave out fifty percent of the population?” Gbowee said that as the U.N. resolution on women, peace and security approaches its 23rd anniversary “investment in its implementation is either stalled or slow.” Action plans submitted by governments are “a tool for politicians and political actors to window-dress women peace and security issues as they cover up for their failure" to advance women’s rights, she said. Gbowee called for women peace activists to be part of all peace missions, calling them “custodians of their communities.” “We will continue to search for peace in vain in our world unless we bring women to the table,” she warned. Bineta Diop, the African Union Commission chair’s special envoy on women, peace and security, said in a virtual briefing to the council that the current impact of armed conflict on women and girls “is precarious.” Diop cited kidnappings in the Sahel, rape, killing and maiming of young girls and boys in Congo, and atrocities in the Lake Chad Basin and in East Africa, including “an unprecedented rate of sexual violence.” “Unfortunately, while many women are engaged in the community and peacebuilding initiatives, their voice is yet to be heard in peace negotiations and mediation where roadmaps to return to peace are drawn,” she said. Diop said the African Union is helping to promote African women leaders who can sit at peace tables and to bring women from rival regions together, as just happened at a retreat in Pretoria, South Africa, for Ethiopian women.
UN appeals for $1 billion to help Türkiye earthquake survivors
The United Nations launched a $1 billion appeal Thursday to help 5.2 million survivors of the most devastating earthquake in Türkiye’s modern history, two days after starting a $397 million appeal to help nearly 5 million Syrians across the border. The funding, which covers three months, will allow aid organisations to swiftly ramp up their operations to support government-led response efforts in areas that include food security, protection, education, water and shelter. Both appeals will be followed by fresh appeals for longer-term help. “Türkiye is home to the largest number of refugees in the world and has shown enormous generosity to its Syrian neighbours for years,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said. “Now is the time for the world to support the people of Türkiye – just as they have stood in solidarity with others seeking assistance.” UN Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said: “The people of Türkiye have experienced unspeakable heartache. I met families who shared their stories of shock and devastation. We must stand with them in their darkest hour and ensure they receive the support they need.” The UN and partners have been rushing to support Türkiye and neighbouring Syria in the wake of the devastating earthquakes that struck on February 6. More than nine million people in Türkiye alone have been directly impacted by the once-in-a-generation disaster, which has left 35,000 people dead in the country, according to the latest figures from the government. Read more: Turkey probes contractors as earthquake deaths pass 33,000 The earthquakes struck at the peak of winter, leaving hundreds of thousands of people – including small children and elderly people – without access to shelter, food, water, heaters and medical care in freezing temperatures. Some 47,000 buildings have been destroyed or damaged, including schools, hospitals and other essential services. Thousands of people have sought refuge in temporary shelters across the country. Many families have been separated, and hundreds of children are now orphaned or unable to be reunited with their parents. Around 3.6 million Syrians have found a safe haven in Türkiye, along with nearly 320,000 people of other nationalities, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. More than 1.74 million refugees live in the 11 provinces impacted by the earthquakes. The UN is coordinating the operations of thousands of search-and-rescue personnel in five provinces – Adiyaman, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaraş and Malatya – and humanitarian organisations have begun relief operations in the hardest-hit areas, in support of the government-led response. This week also saw the launch of a nearly $400 million appeal for Syria, where aid delivery from across the border with Türkiye is continuing. UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said shelter needs are the top priority among displaced people there, where many homes have collapsed in the aftermath of the earthquakes. Read more: UN appeals for $1 billion to help Türkiye earthquake survivors More than 8,900 buildings are completely or partially destroyed, leaving 11,000 people homeless. Other priorities include food, cash assistance and supplies to cope with the harsh winter weather.
UN names Pakistani linked to Mumbai attacks as terrorist
The United Nations has designated an anti-India militant being held in Pakistan as a global terrorist, the world body’s second such designation stemming from the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people. The announcement regarding Pakistani citizen Abdul Rehan Makki was hailed by neighboring India on Tuesday, a day after the decision. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said the Islamic nation is itself a victim of terrorism and Pakistan supports counter-terrorism efforts at the international level, including at the United Nations. Makki, 68, is a senior figure in the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which is mainly active in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. He was arrested in Pakistan's Punjab province in 2019 and convicted in November and December 2020 in two separate cases on charges of terror financing. Makki was sentenced to one year in prison but officials say he is still in custody without providing an explanation. He is being held in Punjab pending his appeals, according to several government officials who are familiar with the case. The U.N. Security Council committee overseeing sanctions against al-Qaida and Islamic State extremists and their associates put Makki on the sanctions blacklist after approval by the council’s 15 members. Under the U.N. measure, Makki's assets can be frozen and he will also face a travel ban. Makki is a close relative of Hafiz Saeed, a militant leader accused of orchestrating the Mumbai attacks. Saeed, 72, is serving a 31-year prison sentence and was designated a terrorist by the United States and the U.N. Security Council after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Saeed, like Makki, was never charged in connection with the Mumbai attacks that strained relations between Pakistan and India. He is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was blamed by India for the attacks in India. Read more: Savage Truth Behind Mumbai Carnage Monday's U.N. Security Council decision came after China lifted a hold on adding Makki, who has been under U.S. sanctions since November 2010. The spokesperson at India's Ministry of External Affairs in the capital New Delhi, Shri Arindam Bagchi, on Tuesday welcomed Makki's designation as a terrorist. “India remains committed to pursuing a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism and will continue to press the international community to take credible, verifiable and irreversible action against terrorism," he said. Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the spokesperson at Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, said: “Pakistan is a victim of terrorism and supports counter-terrorism efforts at the international level including at the United Nations and other multilateral fora." Baloch said in a statement that “Pakistan has always called for strict compliance with the Security Council’s listing rules, procedures and established processes to maintain the integrity of the UN counter-terrorism regime." Since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, Pakistan and India, which have a history of bitter relations, have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, which is split between them and claimed by both in its entirety. Read more: 13th anniversary of Mumbai terror attacks observed in Bangladesh
Historic biodiversity agreement reached at U.N. conference
Negotiators reached a historic deal at a U.N. biodiversity conference early Monday that would represent the most significant effort to protect the world’s lands and oceans and provide critical financing to save biodiversity in the developing world. The global framework comes a day before the United Nations Biodiversity Conference, or COP15, is set to end in Montreal. China, which holds the presidency at this conference, released a new draft earlier in the day that gave the sometimes contentious talks much-needed momentum. The most significant part of the agreement is a commitment to protect 30% of land and water considered important for biodiversity by 2030. Currently, 17% of terrestrial and 10% of marine areas are protected. “There has never been a conservation goal globally at this scale,“ Brian O’Donnell, the director of the conservation group Campaign for Nature, told reporters. “This puts us within a chance of safeguarding biodiversity from collapse ... We’re now within the range that scientists think can make a marked difference in biodiversity.” The draft also calls for raising $200 billion by 2030 for biodiversity from a range of sources and working to phase out or reform subsidies that could provide another $500 billion for nature. As part of the financing package, the framework calls for increasing to at least $20 billion annually by 2025 the money that goes to poor countries — or about double what is currently provided. That number would increase to $30 billion each year by 2030. Some advocates wanted tougher language around subsidies that make food and fuel so cheap in many parts of the world. The document only calls for identifying subsidies by 2025 that can be reformed or phased out and working to reduce them by 2030. Read: UN chief appeals for more fund from developed countries to help preserve biodiversity “The new text is a mixed bag,” Andrew Deutz, director of global policy, institutions and conservation finance for The Nature Conservancy, said. “It contains some strong signals on finance and biodiversity but it fails to advance beyond the targets of 10 years ago in terms of addressing drivers of biodiversity loss in productive sectors like agriculture, fisheries, and infrastructure and thus still risks being fully transformational.” The ministers and government officials from about 190 countries have mostly agreed that protecting biodiversity has to be a priority, with many comparing those efforts to climate talks that wrapped up last month in Egypt. Climate change coupled with habitat loss, pollution and development have hammered the world’s biodiversity, with one estimate in 2019 warning that a million plant and animal species face extinction within decades — a rate of loss 1,000 times greater than expected. Humans use about 50,000 wild species routinely, and 1 out of 5 people of the world’s 8 billion population depend on those species for food and income, the report said. But they have struggled for nearly two weeks to agree on what that protection looks like and who will pay for it. The financing has been among the most contentions issues, with delegates from 70 African, South American and Asian countries walking out of negotiations Wednesday. They returned several hours later. Brazil, speaking for developing countries during the week, said in a statement that a new funding mechanism dedicated to biodiversity should be established and that developed countries provide $100 billion annually in financial grants to emerging economies until 2030. Read: UN chief calls for greater ambition to reverse biodiversity loss “All the elements are in there for a balance of unhappiness which is the secret to achieving agreement in U.N. bodies,” Pierre du Plessis, a negotiator from Namibia who is helping coordinate the African group, told The Associated Press. “Everyone got a bit of what they wanted, not necessarily everything they wanted. Let’s see if there is there is a spirit of unity.” Others praised the fact the document recognizes the rights of Indigenous communities. In past biodiversity documents, indigenous rights were often ignored and they rarely were part of the larger discussions other than a reference to their traditional knowledge. The framework would reaffirm the rights of Indigenous peoples and ensure they have a voice in any decision making. “It’s important for the rights of Indigenous peoples to be there, and while it’s not the exact wording of that proposal in the beginning, we feel that it is a good compromise and that it addresses the concerns that we have,” Jennifer Corpuz, a representative of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity said. “We believe that it’s a good basis for us to be able to implement policy at the national level.” But the Wildlife Conservation Society and other environmental groups were concerned that the draft puts off until 2050 a goal of preventing the extinction of species, preserving the integrity of ecosystems and maintaining the genetic diversity within populations. They fear that timeline is not ambitions enough.
Over 280m people leave home for a better life: UN
More than 280 million people have left their countries to pursue opportunity, dignity, freedom, and a better life, the UN said on International Migrants Day Sunday. Secretary-General António Guterres credited more than 80 percent of those who cross borders in a safe and orderly fashion as powerful drivers of economic growth, dynamism, and understanding. "But unregulated migration along increasingly perilous routes – the cruel realm of traffickers – continues to extract a terrible cost." Over the past eight years, at least 51,000 migrants have died, and thousands of others have gone missing, said the top UN official. "Behind each number is a human being – a sister, brother, daughter, son, mother, or father," he said. "Migrant rights are human rights." Read: US Asst Secretary Noyes in Bangladesh to discuss refugee, migration issues "They must be respected without discrimination – and irrespective of whether their movement is forced, voluntary, or formally authorised." Guterres pushed for search and rescue efforts, medical care, expanded and diversified rights-based pathways for migration, and greater international investments in countries of origin to ensure migration is a choice, not a necessity. Gilbert F Houngbo, the head of the International Labour Organization (ILO), shone a light on protecting the rights of the world's 169 million migrant workers. "The international community must do better to ensure… [that they] are able to realise their basic human and labour rights." Leaving them unable to exercise basic rights renders migrant workers invisible, vulnerable and undervalued for their contributions to society, said the most senior ILO official. And when intersecting with race, ethnicity, and gender, they become even more vulnerable to various forms of discrimination. Houngbo said migrants do not only go missing on high-risk and desperate journeys. "Many migrant domestic, agricultural and other workers are isolated and out of reach of those who could protect them, with the undocumented, particularly at risk of abuse." Read: COP27: FM calls for collective action to mainstream climate-induced migration in negotiations Like all employees, migrant workers are entitled to labour standards and international human rights protections, including freedom of association and collective bargaining, non-discrimination, and safe and healthy working environments, said the ILO chief. They should also be entitled to social protection, development and recognition, he added. To make these rights a reality, Houngbo stressed the key importance of fair recruitment, including eliminating recruitment fees charged to migrant workers, which can help eradicate human trafficking and forced labour.
Bangladesh’s achievements made it an example for other countries to emulate: UN
On the eve of the Victory Day, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis on Thursday said the United Nations stands with Bangladesh in partnership and wished all Bangladeshi nationals, in the country and abroad a very happy Victory Day. “Bangladesh’s achievements in human development and disaster response, long before it became a middle-income country, made it an example for other countries to emulate,” she said congratulating Bangladesh on Victory Day. Read more: Bangladesh set to celebrate Victory Day Friday On 16 December, Bangladesh will celebrate its 51st anniversary of Victory Day. The country has been on an extraordinary voyage from being a war and famine-ravaged newborn nation, to its current standing as a United Nations member state standing at the threshold of LDC graduation, and providing shelter to nearly a million Rohingya refugees, Lewis said. “Bangladesh too has contributed to shaping the UN’s development agenda and peace operations globally. Bangladesh has also been a vocal advocate for multilateralism, climate justice and the interests of least developed countries,” she said. Bangladesh sponsored the Culture of Peace resolution that was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1999. Read more: Indian war veterans to join Bangladesh’s Victory Day celebrations in Dhaka And it was thanks to Bangladesh’s advocacy that the UN General Assembly recognized the International Mother Language Day in 2008. “Bangladesh’s advocacy internally for the rights of the most vulnerable, and its constitution illustrates the country’s determination to be a democracy in which fundamental human rights and freedoms and respect for the dignity and worth of the human person shall be guaranteed,” said the UNRC. The UN has been a partner of the government and the people of Bangladesh since its birth. Starting with UNHCR in 1971, 22 UN agencies now have operations in the country. “Wishing everyone a happy Victory Day!,” Lewis said.
Climate Change: UN, Bangladesh to strengthen cooperation
Bangladesh and the United Nations (UN) on Sunday discussed ways to further strengthen the national efforts of adaptation to and mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change, specially in the context of the recently concluded COP27 in Egypt. UN Resident Coordinator (UNRC) in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis met State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and discussed the issues of mutual interest. The UNRC briefed the State Minister about her recent visit to Khagrachari and Rangamati districts of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, including on various projects the UN has undertaken there for socio-economic development. Read more: UNICEF wants investment in world's first child-focused climate risk financing solution She also sought Bangladesh's cooperation and support in making the upcoming 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) to be held in Doha, Qatar in March 2023. They also discussed the humanitarian response for the Rohingyas, including on launching the Joint Response Plan (JRP) next year.