The world leaders have stressed that building resilience and tackling the adverse impact of climate change should be an urgent priority for all as the planet grapples with chaotic weather patterns. At the UN General Assembly high-level debate on Thursday, more than a dozen heads of state and government spotlighted the need for concrete climate measures, as opposed to mere promises, calling for reforming global financial institutions and unlocking funds for developing countries to allow them to catch up on the path to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. They also emphasised that the current exclusionary architecture, dominated by a few states, is failing to deliver the requisite resources, saying no meaningful climate action or development can take place in conditions of financial distress. Govt can't guarantee violence-free election without support from all: FM Momen Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, cited climate as the most pressing of all emergencies and drew attention to the afforestation initiative that he undertook in his capacity as President of the Congo Basin Climate Commission. Pointing out that arable land in Africa must be protected from the impacts of climate change, he called for effective technical and financial partnerships. José Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste, proposed to accelerate energy transition in fragile developing States by unlocking finance through debt alleviation, streamlining international finance at the lowest interest rates and increasing development assistance. Wesley Simina, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, implored all parties to the Paris Agreement — particularly major emitters — to commit to emissions reductions of at least half by 2030 and peg their net-zero goals no later than 2050. Uzra Zeya discusses Bangladesh's upcoming national election with PM Hasina: US Embassy Han Zheng, Vice-President of China, stressed the importance of the Paris accord and the need to stop building new coal-fired power projects abroad, and to vigorously support developing countries to create more green energy projects. For its part, he said, China will continue to prioritize ecological conservation and the advancement of green and low-carbon development. “Through Chinese modernization and rejuvenation, the country seeks to achieve harmony between humanity and nature while promoting ethical material advancement.” Jessica Alupo, Vice-President of Uganda, called on developed countries to fulfil their commitment, in line with the Paris Agreement, to provide $100 billion — annually, through 2025 — to developing countries to assist with mitigation and adaptation. Answering that call, Dan Jørgensen, Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy of Denmark, said his government is increasing grant-based climate finance to its highest level ever this year, doubling its contribution to the Green Climate Fund next year, and tripling its contribution to climate finance in developing countries by 2030. Dhaka urges OIC members to contribute voluntary fund to bear legal expenses of Rohingya case “The world needs to better leverage the enormous potential of international financial institutions, and development banks must raise trillions of dollars for climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he insisted. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece, said high temperatures resulting from global warming are driving threats of fires, heat waves and landslides in different countries. “While the world acts decisively on long-term mitigation, the international community is “collectively guilty in not placing enough emphasis on short-term adaptation” he said, calling for the creation of a global forum that can deliver access to new financing to drive such adaptation “before it is too late.” Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ in a video message to the ministerial meeting of the least developed countries, pushed for a Climate Solidarity Pact in which all countries make extra efforts to reduce emissions this decade. “Developed countries must also present a clear and credible road map to double adaptation finance by 2025. The $100 billion goal must be met, and the Green Climate Fund must be fully capitalised,” he said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday (September 20, 2023) said gender equality is not an option but rather an imperative to achieve a fair and just world. “Our efforts to achieve peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability would yield no result if half of the world’s population were left behind,” she said. The prime minister was speaking at the annual meeting of the UNGA Platform of Women leaders titled ‘Accelerating the implementation of SDG5 towards achieving Peace, Prosperity, Progress and Sustainability’ held at the United Nations Headquarters. Saying that every country is different and they have different challenges and different social and cultural dynamics, she, however, stated that when historic Agenda 2030 was adopted, all were committed to achieving gender equality. “We cannot back out of that commitment under any circumstances,” she said. Major economies must make fair share to avert impending climate crisis: PM Hasina at UN Hasina mentioned that as women leaders, all have a responsibility to stand by all women and create examples that can guide others. “We must leverage our position and power to achieve a gender-equal world,” she added. In this connection, she shared two specific points. These are: First, all must enhance their partnership base to make gender equality a norm across all sectors. The private sector needs to come forward to advance women’s participation at a higher level. “As leaders, we need to engage with them and encourage them to take bold initiatives in that regard," she noted. Second, all need to elevate their narrative from participation to leadership. Women must be in a leadership position to be able to influence decisions and make positive impacts in the lives of other women. PM Hasina attends banquet hosted by President Biden “And the UN must lead by example. It is regrettable that no woman has so far been appointed as the UN Secretary General. Time has come; we will have one soon.” Talking about Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina said that guided by the constitutional commitment, the government has adopted the necessary laws and policies to ensure women’s equal participation in all walks of national life. “We invested heavily in girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment. Girls’ education has been made free up to the 12th grade. We are providing stipends and free books to students up to the secondary level.” She also said that the government has ensured that 60 percent of the school teachers at the primary level are women. “We have taken specific policy actions to encourage women's entrepreneurship and help them access financing. We have ensured concessional loans for women entrepreneurs.” World must learn from past mistakes to prevent another pandemic like Covid-19: PM Hasina tells high-level UN meet She mentioned that the government has established the Joyeeta Foundation to promote and support women in business initiatives. “We opened the doors for women in higher positions in government bodies. Women are now becoming judges of the highest court, ambassadors, higher positions in civil administration, the armed forces, law-enforcing agencies, vice chancellors of public universities, and so on. On the political spectrum, women are represented at all levels, from the top to the lowest tier of the government.” The prime minister said that the government has ensured women's and girls' access to ICT and digital platforms. There are 12,292 union and municipal digital centres that were run by a woman and a man. “We are providing training for women to work as freelancers. Our target is to achieve gender parity in the ICT sector, including tech start-ups and the e-commerce sector. We are one of the first countries to introduce gender-responsive budgeting.” In this regard, she said that thirty percent of our budget is allocated for women's development activities. She mentioned that women in Bangladesh have also been an integral part of our continued efforts to achieve sustainability. “Our gender-equal disaster response plan has earned us global recognition.” She said that the investments in women's development have given the country its dividends. “Today, women’s contribution to GDP has reached 34%. Economic empowerment has also enabled women to play a greater role in decision-making, both in their families and in society.” Read more: US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom meets Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen in New York
With no end in sight for Ukraine war, Biden at UN says world must remain united against Russian aggression
President Joe Biden made his case before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that the world must remain united in defending Ukraine against Russian aggression, warning that no nation can be secure if "we allow Ukraine to be carved up" as he tries to rally support for Kyiv's effort to repel a nearly 19-month-old Russian invasion that has no end in sight. The U.S. president called on world leaders to not let support for Ukraine diminish, arguing that Russia is counting on countries to grow tired of prolonged conflict in Kyiv which will "allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence." Russia alone is standing in the way of a resolution, Biden argued, saying that Moscow's price for peace was "Ukraine's capitulation, Ukraine's territory and Ukraine's children." "I ask you this: If we abandon the core principles of the United States to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected?" Biden said in his address. "If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure? US House of Representatives to open Biden impeachment inquiry He continued: "I'd respectfully suggest the answer is no." The president's forceful rhetoric on Ukraine appeared aimed not just for a global audience but for Washington, where an increasingly isolationist strain of the Republican Party is jeopardizing the prospects of the U.S. successfully replenishing the steady flow of aid that has gone to Kyiv since the war began in February 2022. The Biden administration has asked Congress to greenlight an additional $24 billion in security and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but Republicans who control the House have all but ignored that request as lawmakers scramble to ensure government funding remains flowing beyond the end of September. Animated by the views of former President Donald Trump, a vocal faction of House Republicans remain steadfastly opposed to more Ukraine aid, even as other GOP lawmakers, primarily in the Senate, continue to advocate support for Kyiv to dissuade Russia from spreading its attacks beyond Ukraine's borders. "We have to stand up to this naked aggression today and deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow," Biden said in his U.N. address. "That's why the United States - together with our allies and partners around the world — will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity and their freedom." Other senior members of the Biden administration were making their case on Tuesday, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austinpushed allied defense leaders in remarks at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to "dig deep" and provide more air defense systems for Ukraine to help the country wage its counteroffensive. Indeed, the broader message is intended to resonate beyond Moscow and even Capitol Hill. Washington remains on guard against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, where competing territorial claims have caused tension in the region. Beijing also wants to reunite the mainland with the self-governing island of Taiwan, a goal that raises the prospect of another war. Your achievements are very impressive: Biden tells PM Hasina During his address, Biden described the partnerships that the U.S. government was fostering around the globe — from Africa to the Indo-Pacific — that he said were creating economic, security and other advancements, even as he stressed that those relationships were not about "containing any country" — a clear reference to Beijing. "When it comes to China, let me be clear and consistent," Biden said. "We seek to responsibly manage competition between our countries so it does not tip into conflict. I've said we are for de-risking — not decoupling — with China." Biden emphasized that Beijing and Washington need to cooperate on climate, and referenced recent natural disasters — devastating heat waves, droughts and floods around the globe — as part of a "snapshot" that tells the "urgent story of what awaits us if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and begin to climate-proof the world." Despite his own emphasis on climate as a priority, Biden does not plan to attend a special summit on climate that U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres will host on Wednesday, where countries are encouraged to bring new ideas and proposals on how to further cut emissions and combat climate change. Officials played down Biden's absence at the climate summit, and said John Kerry, the U.S. climate envoy, will attend in Biden's place. In his 30-minute address, Biden also repeatedly emphasized the value of institutions such as the United Nations and international coalitions that has helped the world confront significant challenges such as poverty and disease, as well as echoing his defense of democracy, a common theme of his presidency. Biden has intention to build good relations with Bangladesh: Momen "We will not retreat from the values that make us strong," Biden said. "We will defend democracy — our best tool to meet the challenges that we face around the world. And we're working to show how democracy can deliver in ways that matter to people's lives." The annual forum was a chance for Biden to showcase to other world leaders — and the 2024 U.S. electorate — that he's reestablished U.S. leadership on the world stage that he says was diminished under Trump. There were some notable absences as Biden addressed the General Assembly: British Prime Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Putin — the leaders of the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — are all skipping the gathering. U.S. officials downplayed that fact and instead emphasized the importance that Biden attaches to showing up at the annual diplomatic forum. For Biden, the more important audience for Tuesday's speech could be closer to home as he looks to make the case to voters that he's skillfully handled a complicated foreign policy agenda and that the experience that comes with age has proved to be an asset. It's an argument that the 80-year-old Biden is likely to continue to make to counter skepticism — even in his own Democratic Party — among voters who are concerned about his age. After the speech, Biden sat down with Guterres, and later Tuesday met with leaders from the so-called C5 group of Central Asian nations, which include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Saying the cooperation among the nations is at "new heights," Biden outlined several areas of collaboration including on critical minerals and disability rights. Xi has stepped up his own courting of those countries. During his own summit in May with the Central Asian leaders, Xi promised to build more railway and other trade links with the region and proposed jointly developing oil and gas sources. "We are stronger, and I genuinely believe the world is safer, when we stand together, our five nations," Biden said following the closed-door meeting with the leaders. Biden is scheduled to host talks Thursday at the White House with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said the world financial system needs fundamental shift to address the ongoing financial crisis across the globe.She put forward five points in reshaping the financial system while speaking at the High-level Roundtable titled “Towards a Fair International Financial Architecture” held at UN Headquarters here.The points are:First, MDBs, IFIs, and private lending agencies must re-align their priorities and mobilize additional funds for SDG implementation and climate action.Second, funds need to be made available for developing countries at low-cost, concessional rates, and preferably in higher quantities of grants; Read: PM Hasina honoured for her UN-recognised community clinic model in BangladeshThird, all lending instruments should have disaster clauses to allow vulnerable countries to absorb shocks during crises;Fourth, fair and effective debt relief measures need to be given priority based on coordination and transparency among creditors; and,Fifth, instead of quotas, SDR borrowing limits should be based on needs and vulnerability, supported by easy lending processes.“We recognise that the international financial architecture needs urgent reforms. But agreement on the nature and extent of the reforms remains lacking. Political will is important,” Hasina said.She mentioned that international public finances are found to be costly and out-of-reach. Read: Latest ADB report predicts a better year for Bangladesh in FY2024“We try to stay clear of high-interest-rate loans to avoid debt distress. Bangladesh has never defaulted on its loan repayment, and we hope to maintain that record,” she said.Agreeing with the UN Secretary General that the global credit rating system must be reviewed, she said that the current rating system further restricts access to funds for many low- and middle-income countries.“The limits on their voting rights, quotas, and representation in MDBs and IFIs also undermine their bargaining power,” she said.Sheikh Hasina said it is critical for the international financial architecture to be inclusive and representative of the Global South.“Development narratives from countries like Bangladesh demonstrate that we can do our part. It is time for the international financial system to respond to our expectations,” she said.Noting that Bangladesh has long been credited for its sound macro-economic management, the PM said, “Our economy grew by 8.15pc just before the pandemic.”She said the country’s economy was put under stress due to the Covid pandemic and Ukraine war. Read: Promote community clinics in developing world: PM Hasina urges dev partners“Despite we’re still maintaining 6-7pc GDP growth, we are trying to curb inflation, manage the balance of payments, and maintain our development expenditures. There are evident strains on our fiscal and policy space,” she added.She said her government reduced the poverty level from 41.9pc to 18.7pc and the extreme poverty level from 25.5pc to 5.6pc in the country.Also on Tuesday, Hasina held bilateral meetings separately with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Timor-Leste President Dr Jose Ramos-Horta and Denmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at the bilateral meeting room at the United Nations Headquarters.“Various aspects of the issues related to interest of Bangladesh were discussed during the meetings,” Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen while briefing reporters. He said Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi, paid a courtesy call on Sheikh Hasina at the latter’s place of residence on the day.During the meeting, the prime minister put emphasis on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and reiterated Bangladesh's steadfast commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, said Momen.Sheikh Hasina recalled that Bangladesh ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty after she formed the government for her first term.She expressed her sincere thanks to IAEA for providing technical support to Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and Savar Nuclear Reactor Research Establishment.Meanwhile, the prime minister highlighted the progress of Bangladesh in developing adversity-tolerant and high-yielding crop varieties developed by Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA), said the FM.
The U.N. delivered grim news on global food security Wednesday: 2.4 billion people didn’t have constant access to food last year, as many as 783 million faced hunger, and 148 million children suffered from stunted growth. Five U.N. agencies said in the 2023 State of Food Security and Nutrition report that while global hunger numbers stalled between 2021 and 2022 many places are facing deepening food crises. They pointed to Western Asia, the Caribbean and Africa, where 20% of the continent’s population is experiencing hunger, more than twice the global average. “Recovery from the global pandemic has been uneven, and the war in Ukraine has affected the nutritious food and healthy diets,” Qu Dongyu, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement. “This is the `new normal’ where climate change, conflict, and economic instability are pushing those on the margins even further from safety.” FAO chief economist Maximo Torero said the FAO food price index has been declining for about 15 months, but “food inflation has continued.” But he said not knowing if the deal that has enabled Ukraine to ship 32 metric tons of grain to world markets and is trying to overcome obstacles to Russian grain and fertilizer shipments will be renewed when it expires on July 17 “is not good for the markets.” UN warns its development goals for 2030 are in trouble and 575 million people will remain very poor If it isn’t renewed immediately “you will have a new spike for sure” in food prices, but how much and for how long will depend on how markets respond, he said. According to the report, people’s access to healthy diets has deteriorated across the world. More than 3.1 billion people – 42% of the global population – were unable to afford a healthy diet in 2021, an increase of 134 million people compared to 2019, it said. Torero told a news conference launching the report that reducing the number of people eating unhealthy diets “is a big challenge, because it’s basically telling us that we have substantially to change the way we use our resources in the agricultural sector, in the agri-food system.” According to the latest research, he said, between 691 million and 783 million people were chronically undernourished in 2022, an average of 735 million which is 122 million more people than in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Eliminate legal barriers to women owning land: UN chief Torero said U.N. projections for 2030 indicate that 600 million people will still be suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2030, far from the U.N. development goal of achieving “Zero Hunger” by that date. In the report’s foreword, the heads of FAO, the World Food Program, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF and the World Health Organization wrote that achieving Zero Hunger “poses a daunting challenge.” They called for redoubled efforts “to transform agri-food systems and leverage them” to reach the target. As for children, the report says they are continuing to suffer from malnutrition, with not only 148 million younger than 5 stunted but 45 million too thin for their height or “wasted,” while 37 million youngsters were overweight. Torero said the five agencies also looked at increased urbanization and found that people in rural and semi-urban areas are also consuming mass market products. “Normally, we used to believe that rural people will consume what they produce, but that’s not the case,” he said, explaining that in rural areas about 30% of the family’s food basket is purchased from the market, and in semi-urban and urban areas it is higher, which has implications for nutrition because of the consumption of more processed foods. WFP chief economist Arif Husain told reporters in a virtual briefing that in 2022 when the war in Ukraine was ongoing the food situation didn’t get worse because the donor community stepped up with about $14.2 billion, and the agency was able to provide aid to 160 million people, up from 97 million in 2019. Stop targeting truth, truth-tellers: UN Chief on World Press Freedom Day “My concern is that moving forward we are looking at huge funding cuts,” he said, citing WFP donations of just $4.2 billion by last week, 29% lower than at the same time last year.
PM to visit Rome later this month to attend UN Food Systems Summit; bilateral deals on energy, migration likely
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to visit Rome, Italy later this month to discuss bilateral issues and attend the UN Food Systems Summit. The 2023 UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment will be held in Rome, Italy on July 24-26 at the premises of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It will be hosted by Italy in collaboration with the Rome-based UN Agencies (FAO, IFAD, WFP), the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, and the wider UN system. The Prime Minister is scheduled to be in Rome from July 23, said a diplomatic source. Also read: PM Hasina to visit Japan on April 25-28 She is likely to have a bilateral meeting with her Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni during the visit. PM Hasina will speak at the Food System Summit in Rome while her Italy visit is likely to see the signing of half a dozen bilateral documents in the areas of energy, migration, ICT and cyber security. Bangladesh and Italy have been discussing a possible memorandum of understanding (MoU ) on mobility and migration — to encourage regular migration and prevent irregular ones. “We want to go further in our cooperation on migration issues. In particular, creating and enlarging the existing legal channels or legal pathways for migration while stemming the irregular one,” Italian Ambassador to Bangladesh Enrico Nunziata told UNB in an interview recently. Also read: PM leaves Geneva for home ending 3-day visit The envoy said the two countries have to deepen cooperation for preventing irregular migration, trafficking and so on. Ambassador Nunziata recalled one of the deliverables during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Italy in 2020 — reinsertion of Bangladesh in the list of countries whose nationals can benefit from a quota for work. Talking about collaboration in the defence sector, he said there is possibility of collaboration and transfer of know-how as well on a win-win basis. “So this is another important sector.” The ambassador said a memorandum of understanding in the cultural sphere for programmes of cultural exchanges is also in the pipeline. Also read: PM to brief media on the outcome of her Switzerland visit on Wednesday The Italian ambassador also said they want to collaborate in the shipbuilding industry for the Navy or Coast Guard by sharing know-how and technologies with Bangladesh. “I mean that level of know-how that Bangladesh has not reached in shipbuilding yet. Together we can do more on that in shipbuilding as well as in other sectors.” The 2023 UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment will build on the momentum of the 2021 Food Systems Summit and will create a conducive space for countries to review commitments to action that were made during the Summit, share stories of success and early signs of transformation, maintain the momentum for bold acceleration and bold action to further the resilience of food systems, advocate for their adaptation to climate change, ensure they contribute to communities’ resilience to further shocks and crises, and boost the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read more: PM Hasina leaves for Geneva to attend World of Work Summit
United Nations Under-Secretaries General Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Catherine Pollard jointly paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganabhaban on Sunday (June 25, 2023). In the meeting, they discussed different issues including the UN peacekeeping operations, climate change and women security, PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told reporters. The UN officials said the world body has successfully completed 75 years of its peacekeeping operation. Read: Discrimination, sexual abuse have no place in Peacekeeping Missions, Dhaka says They highly praised the Bangladeshi peacekeepers for their contribution to maintain peace. In this regard, the prime minister told the UN officials that Bangladesh has been contributing to the UN peacekeeping missions for three decades with dedication and professionalism. She said Bangladesh is the largest troops contributing country for the UN peacekeeping missions. "Some 7,500 Bangladeshi males and females are employed in nine UN peacekeeping missions around the globe," the press secretary quoted her as saying. Catherine Pollard thanked the prime minister for Bangladesh's contribution to the trust fund to check sexual exploitation and abuse. In reply, Hasina said Bangladesh is deeply committed to women security and increasing women's participation in UN peacekeeping. Read: UN USG for Peace Operations Lacroix to attend 1st peacekeeping ministerial preparatory meeting in Dhaka She reiterated her government's zero tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse. She said Bangladesh has taken serious punitive measures against the individuals who were found guilty through investigation in this regard. Talking about climate change, the PM said Bangladesh is a vulnerable country and her government is implementing mitigation and adaptation programmes with its own funds. Ambassador-at-Large Mohammad Ziauddin, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Division Lieutenant General Waker-Uz-Zaman, Inspector General of Police Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun and Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the United Nations Muhammad Abdul Muhith were present at the meeting. Read more: Evolution of UN Peacekeeping into 4th generation will create new challenges for third world countries including Bangladesh: BIPSS president
UN steps up criticism of IMF and World Bank, the other pillars of the post-World War II global order
From the ashes of World War II, three institutions were created as linchpins of a new global order. Now, in an unusual move, the top official in one — the secretary-general of the United Nations — is pressing for major changes in the other two. Antonio Guterres says the International Monetary Fund has benefited rich countries instead of poor ones. And he describes the IMF and World Bank 's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a "glaring failure" that left dozens of countries deeply indebted. Also Read: Budget not based on IMF conditions: Finance Minister Guterres' criticism, in a recent paper, isn't the first time he's called for overhauling global financial institutions. But it is his most in-depth analysis of their problems, cast in light of their response to the pandemic, which he called a "stress test" for the organizations. His comments were issued ahead of meetings called by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday and Friday to address reforms of the multilateral development banks and other issues. Neither the IMF nor the World Bank would comment directly on the secretary-general's criticisms and proposals. But Guterres' comments echo those of outside critics, who see the IMF and World Bank's leadership limited by the powerful nations that control them — a situation similar to that of the United Nations, which has faced its own calls for reform. Also Read: Bangladesh faces external pressures, requires careful macroeconomic management: World Bank Maurice Kugler, a professor of public policy at George Mason University, told The Associated Press that the institutions' failure to help the neediest countries "reflects the persistence of a top-down approach in which the World Bank president is a U.S. national appointed by the U.S. president and the IMF managing director is a European Union national appointed by the European Commission." Richard Gowan, the International Crisis Group's U.N. director, said there is a lot of frustration with the U.S. and its European allies dominating decision-making, leaving African countries with only "a sliver of voting rights." Developing countries also complain that the bank's lending rules are weighted against them, he said. "In fairness, the bank has been trying to update its funding procedures to address these concerns, but it has not gone far enough to satisfy countries in the Global South," Gowan said. Guterres said it's time for the boards of the IMF and the World Bank to right what he called the historic wrongs and "bias and injustice built into the current international financial architecture." Also Read: Bangladesh receives $858 mln World Bank fund for agriculture growth, road safety That "architecture" was established when many developing countries were still under colonial rule. The IMF and what is now known as the World Bank Group were created at a conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in July 1944 to be key institutions of a postwar international monetary system. The IMF was to monitor exchange rates and lend reserve currencies to countries with balance of payment deficits. The World Bank would provide financial assistance for postwar reconstruction and for building the economies of less developed countries. Guterres said the institutions haven't kept pace with global growth. He said the World Bank has $22 billion in paid capital, the money used for low-interest loans and grants for government development programs. As a percentage of global GDP, that's less than one-fifth of the 1960 funding level. At the same time, many developing countries are in a deep financial crisis, exacerbated by inflation, rising interest rates and a standstill in debt relief. "Some governments are being forced to choose between making debt repayments or defaulting in order to pay public sector workers — possibly ruining their credit rating for years to come," Guterres said, adding that "Africa now spends more on debt service costs than on health care." The IMF's rules unfairly favor wealthy nations, he said. During the pandemic, the wealthy Group of Seven nations, with a population of 772 million, received the equivalent of $280 billion from the IMF while the least developed countries, with a population of 1.1 billion, were allocated just over $8 billion. "This was done according to the rules," Guterres said. This is "morally wrong." He called for major reforms that would strengthen the representation of developing countries on the boards of the IMF and World Bank, help countries restructure debts, change IMF quotas, and revamp the use of IMF funds. He also called for scaling up financing for economic development and tackling the impact of climate change. IMF spokesperson Julie Kozack, asked about Guterres' proposals at a June 8 news conference, said "I'm not in a position to comment on any of the specifics." She added that a review of IMF quotas is a priority and is expected to be completed by Dec. 15. In a written response to a query from the AP, the IMF said it has mounted "an unprecedented" response to the largest-ever request from countries for help dealing with recent shocks. After the pandemic hit, the IMF approved $306 billion in financing for 96 countries, including below-market rate loans to 57 low-income countries. It also increased interest-free lending fourfold to $24 billion and provided around $964 million in grants to 31 of its most vulnerable nations between April 2020 and 2022 so they could service their debts. The World Bank Group said in January that its shareholders have initiated a process "to better address the scale of development." The bank's development committee said in a March report that the bank "must evolve in response to the unprecedented confluence of global crises that has upended development progress and threatens people and the planet." Guterres' push for reforming the IMF and World Bank comes as the United Nations also faces demands for an overhaul of its structure, which still reflects the post-World War II global order. Gowan said many U.N. ambassadors think it might be "marginally easier" and more helpful to developing countries to overhaul the IMF and World Bank than to reform the U.N. Security Council, which has been debated for more than 40 years. While Guterres and U.N. ambassadors talk about reforming the financial institutions, any changes are up to their boards. Gowan noted that when the Obama administration engineered a reform of IMF voting rights in 2010, "Congress took five years to ratify the deal — and Congress is even more divided and dysfunctional now." "But Western governments are aware that China is an increasingly dominant lender in many developing countries," Gowan said, "so they have an interest in reforming the IMF and World Bank in ways that keep poorer states from relying on Beijing for loans." Beyond the Paris meeting, the debate over IMF and World Bank reforms will continue in September at a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 in New Delhi, and at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations. U.S. climate chief John Kerry said in an Associated Press interview Wednesday that he will be attending the Paris summit along with IMF and World Bank officials. "Hopefully, new avenues of finance will be more defined than they have been," he said. "I think it's really important."
The United Nations General Assembly has unanimously adopted Bangladesh’s flagship resolution on the ‘Culture of Peace’. The Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN in New York, Ambassador Muhammad Abdul Muhith, introduced the resolution at the UNGA on Wednesday. While introducing the resolution, Ambassador Muhith highlighted the continued relevance of culture of peace in today's world, characterised by complex challenges and boundless opportunities. "Indeed, it is more urgent today than ever to promote a culture of peace; to prioritize dialogue and rapprochement over violence and confrontation," said Ambassador Muhith The resolution was first adopted on September 13, 1999, during the first tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. UNGA resolution on Ukraine: Dhaka says ‘constrained to abstain’ Since then, Bangladesh has been facilitating this resolution at the assembly every year and also convening a high-level forum on the culture of peace in the General Assembly. The last High-Level Forum, which was held on September 6, 2022, focused on the transformative role of culture of peace to ensure justice, equality, and inclusion for advancing peace-building. This year, the resolution centred on collective efforts to address global risks and challenges with the United Nations playing a central role. It underscored the importance of strengthening preventive diplomacy, dialogue, and healthy debates at all levels. While reaffirming the invaluable role of women in conflict prevention and resolution, it called for fully equal and meaningful participation of women in such processes. Among others, the resolution stressed the need to address the underlying drivers of violence and conflict and also to promote a culture of peace in the context of ongoing digital transformation. Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative stated that the resolution of the Culture of Peace has, over time, grown in relevance and evolved into a dominant theme, finding larger footprints and recognition in all major UN discourses. UNGA Resolution on Ukraine: 32 countries including Bangladesh, India and China abstain “In the rapidly changing global situation, it has proved to be a useful means to complement UN Charter obligations of maintaining peace in the world,” he added. This year's resolution has been cosponsored by more than 100 countries, showcasing a broad-based endorsement from a diverse representation of UN member states. Bangladesh's continued facilitation of this resolution each year stands as a testament to the international community's profound confidence in Bangladesh as a steadfast advocate for global peace. Bangladesh abstains in UNGA vote calling on Russia to pay reparations
China has said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's remarks against US sanctions were "not just the strong position of the Bangladeshi people, but also the mind of a large part of the international community, especially the developing world." Read: Bangladesh, Denmark launch action plan to strengthen partnership on green transition "We have noted the recent remarks by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Indeed, while turning a blind eye to its own racial discrimination, gun violence and drug proliferation problems, a certain country has long been interfering in the internal affairs of Bangladesh and many other developing countries under the pretext of democracy and human rights," said Spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Wang Wenbin, commenting on sanctions on Bangladesh. Read: Record 108.4 mln people forcibly displaced by end of 2022: UNHCR He said Bangladesh and China have been traditionally friendly neighbours. "We firmly support Bangladesh in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, upholding independent domestic and foreign policies, and pursuing a development path that suits its national realities," said the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson. Read: Japan provides critical funding to WFP’s lifesaving food assistance for Rohingyas He said they stand ready to work together with Bangladesh and other countries to oppose all forms of hegemony and power politics, uphold the UN-centred international system, the international order underpinned by international law, and the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and build a community with a shared future for mankind.