Bangladesh has bagged a historic win in the election for the membership of the UNHRC for the term 2023-25, by securing 160 votes among 189 casted votes in the United Nations General Assembly. This prestigious win is indeed significant as this was the most competitive international election of all candidatures Bangladesh floated since 2018. Bangladesh, as the highest recipient of votes in the Asia Pacific Group, has secured one of the four seats in the UNHRC competing with 7 aspirant countries from the Asia Pacific Group. The other three countries from the region elected were the Maldives (154 votes), Vietnam (145 votes), and Kyrgyzstan (126 votes). Bahrain withdrew its candidature a few days ago. The Republic of Korea (123 votes) and Afghanistan (12 votes) lost the election.
This would be the fifth term of Bangladesh as a member of the 47-member UNHRC. In the previous UNHRC elections, Bangladesh won in 2006, 2009, 2014, and 2018; effectively for all possible terms as per the rules of business of the Council. The result of this extremely competitive election is a clear manifestation of the recognition by the international community of Bangladesh’s continued endeavor and commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights in the national as well as international arena. This also nullifies the ongoing defamation campaign with falsified and fabricated information, by some politically motivated vested corners at home and abroad, aimed at negatively portraying the human rights situation of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh, as a responsible and responsive Member State of the United Nations and an elected UNHRC member for the next three years, remains committed to making all efforts to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights nationally and globally in the midst of talks by various countries including the United States, about the allegations of disappearances and human rights violations, that too by getting a large number of votes. It is a great honor for Bangladesh as a country and also a relief for the government. The task of the Human Rights Council is to monitor the human rights situation of member countries around the world and make necessary recommendations. Bangladesh is now one of the countries responsible for taking care of the human rights situation in different countries.
Generally speaking, this victory will enhance the image of Bangladesh and the current government in the international forum. But at the same time, it will create additional pressure on the government. With the responsibility of taking care of the human rights situation of various countries, the accusation of human rights violation against any member of the council will certainly not be justified. As a result, Bangladesh has to be more sensitive and attentive in this regard. The UN Human Rights Council voted for the unlimited trust that the member states have shown in Bangladesh and the current government, and the government will surely try to respect that trust. May the huge victory of Bangladesh in the United Nations Human Rights Council help improve the human rights situation in Bangladesh.
A few things have come to the fore after a little searching about the achievement, which we think has played an important role in the achievement of Bangladesh. First of all, Bangladesh, which has been a member four times before, is already a tested name in this category. After the visit of UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to Bangladesh in August, a report was published, in which it can be seen that Bangladesh is not on the list of countries where the UN is concerned about human rights. It can be assumed that this report has had a positive impact on the international arena. Another big issue that has highlighted Bangladesh as a great example of protecting human rights in the world is the resettlement of Rohingya refugees. In a densely populated country like Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has set a great example of protecting human rights by showing this courage. Along with that, Bangladesh’s strong performance in the UN peacekeeping mission has positively influenced foreign countries. Coping with the effects of climate change is another significant factor. Many people may come to this point and say while writing about the issue of human rights.
The highest vote win in the United Nations is a reflection of the world leaders’ confidence in Sheikh Hasina’s government. It is once again proved that world leadership has confidence in Bangladesh’s human rights track record. The Government of Bangladesh has always been at the forefront of democracy, human rights and justice. Since 2009, Bangladesh has been elected to this 47-member council for the 5th time. This is a clear proof of the international community’s deep confidence in Bangladesh’s contribution to the UN human rights system and our ability to carry out the duties of the Council under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh pledged to work with all to strengthen the UN’s leadership in promoting and protecting human rights worldwide.
A large number of representatives of the member countries congratulated Bangladesh after the election. They lauded Bangladesh’s remarkable progress in democracy, human rights, governance, and socio-economic inclusion. The representatives of the member states also appreciated the humanitarian leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her bold and timely steps for world peace. Everyone expects that as a member of the Human Rights Council, Bangladesh will be able to make a significant contribution to the implementation of UN ideals in the field of human rights, especially in the context of emerging global challenges. All media including the daily newspapers and television channels of the country are proudly broadcasting the news of this achievement of Bangladesh. However, the news could not come to light in the world media.
Our Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam himself represented Bangladesh in this election. In his immediate response, he thanked the diplomats of Bangladesh working in 80 countries. Indeed, 160 countries have supported Bangladesh in a secret ballot for the positive contribution of all. The current government has been working tirelessly to ensure the fundamental rights mentioned in the Constitution of Bangladesh. It is already well-known in the world as the Sheikh Hasina Model of Inclusive Development has achieved many positive results in Bangladesh.
Sufian Siddique, Independent researcher and freelance columnist, Dhaka.