By Erina Haque
By garnering 160 of the 189 votes cast in the UN General Assembly, Bangladesh has won the election for the UNHRC’s membership for the term 2023–25, making history. Given that this was the most competitive foreign election Bangladesh has run in since 2018, this honorable victory is noteworthy. As the Asia Pacific Group member with the most votes, Bangladesh won one of the four UNHRC seats after battling against seven other wannabe nations from the region. Vietnam (145 votes), Kyrgyzstan (154 votes), and the Maldives (154 votes) were the other three elected nations from the area (126 votes). Bahrain just withdrew its application. Afghanistan (12 votes) and the Republic of Korea (123 votes) were unsuccessful candidates.
Bangladesh would be serving the UNHRC’s 47 members for the seventh time during this period. Bangladesh won the previous UNHRC elections in 2006, 2009, 2014, and 2018—effectively for all terms permissible under the Council’s bylaws. The outcome of this fiercely contested election is a glaring example of how the world community acknowledges Bangladesh’s ongoing efforts and dedication to the promotion and preservation of human rights in both the domestic and international spheres. This also invalidates the current defamation campaign by some politically motivated vested interests domestically and internationally that uses false and fabricated information to depict Bangladesh’s human rights status unfavorably.
In the midst of discussions by various nations, including the United States, about the allegations of disappearances and human rights violations, 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, and that too by receiving a sizable number of votes. Both the government and Bangladesh as a nation are greatly relieved by it. The Human Rights Council’s responsibility is to keep track of the human rights situations in its member nations across the world and to provide any required recommendations. Bangladesh is currently one of the nations in charge of overseeing the human rights situation in other nations.
In general, this victory will improve Bangladesh’s standing in the international community as well as that of the current administration. Additionally, it will put the administration under more strain. Any claim of a human rights violation against a council member will undoubtedly be unfounded given their responsibilities for monitoring the human rights situations in other nations. Bangladesh must therefore be more cautious and watchful in this area. The current government will undoubtedly make an effort to uphold the unrestricted faith that member states of the UN Human Rights Council have placed in Bangladesh and its current government. May Bangladesh’s significant victory at the UN Human Rights Council contribute to an improvement in the country’s human rights condition.
Following some investigation into the matter, a few issues have surfaced that, in our opinion, were crucial to Bangladesh’s success. Bangladesh is a tried-and-true name in this category having been a member four times prior. A study was released during Michelle Bachelet’s visit to Bangladesh as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in August, and it shows that Bangladesh is not among the nations about whom the UN is worried in terms of human rights. It is reasonable to infer that this report has improved the global scene. The resettlement of Rohingya refugees is another significant issue that has highlighted Bangladesh as a superb example of upholding human rights in the globe. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has demonstrated enormous courage in defending human rights in Bangladesh, a country with a large population. Additionally, Bangladesh’s impressive performance in the UN peacekeeping mission had a favorable impact on other nations. Another important element is how well we manage the consequences of climate change. While writing on the subject of human rights, many people might reach this conclusion and remark.
The fact that Sheikh Hasina’s government received the largest number of votes at the UN is evidence of the faith that world leaders have in it. It has been demonstrated once more that the international community’s top leaders trust Bangladesh’s record on human rights. The Bangladeshi government has always been a leader in promoting justice, human rights, and democracy. For the fifth time since 2009, Bangladesh has been chosen to serve on this 47-member council. This demonstrates unequivocally how much the world community believes in Bangladesh’s commitment to the UN system for human rights and our capacity to perform Council duties under the direction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh vowed to collaborate with everyone to strengthen the UN’s position as a global leader in promoting and defending human rights.
Following the election, a sizable number of ambassadors from the member nations congratulated Bangladesh. They applauded Bangladesh’s outstanding advancements in socioeconomic inclusion, democracy, and human rights. The member-state representatives also praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her humanitarian leadership and her courageous and timely efforts to advance world peace. Everyone anticipates that Bangladesh will be able to significantly contribute to the realization of UN values in the area of human rights as a member of the Human Rights Council, particularly in light of new global problems. All forms of media, including the nation’s daily newspapers and television networks, are enthusiastically announcing the news of Bangladesh’s accomplishment. The news, however, was unable to reach the international media.
Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh’s minister of state for foreign affairs, participated in this election on behalf of Bangladesh. He immediately responded by thanking Bangladesh’s diplomats serving in 80 different nations. In fact, Bangladesh received backing from 160 nations in a vote that was conducted in secret. The Bangladeshi Constitution lists a number of essential rights, all of which are vigorously protected by the current administration. The Sheikh Hasina Model of Inclusive Development is already well-known throughout the world and has produced several successful outcomes in Bangladesh.
Erina Haque is a Bangladesh affairs, Sino-Indo-Pak affairs, Myanmar, and Rohingya refugee affairs, an Afghan refugee affairs researcher, and a freelance writer.