Statement by H.E. Dr. A K Abdul Momen
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations at the
Substantive Session of the Sixth Committee of the 67th UNGA on “The rule of law at the national and international levels” [agenda item 83] New York, October 10, 2012
My Delegation aligns itself with the statements delivered on behalf of the NAM and OIC groups respectively. We express our appreciation to Secretary General for his annual report on delivering justice: programme of action to strengthen the rule of law at the national and international levels (A/66/749) and on strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities (A/67/290).
Peace in our world today is threatened among others by civil wars, people’s uprisings, religious intolerance, transnational crimes, terrorism, piracy, climate change impacts, financial and energy crises. This has grown the need to reaffirm mankind’s faith in the just, equitable and fair application of international law, the UN Charter and its principles of justice and international law, and on the statute of the International Court of Justice for the peaceful settlement of disputes.
To have a just order based on the rule of law, greater voice and representation of developing countries in major global institutions such as the UN Security Council, ICJ, the Bretton Woods Institutions is vital to ensure the principle of equity. Multilateral institutions also must assist developing countries in their capacity building efforts for efficient implementation of the rule of law. The United Nations should increase the efficiency of such assistance, expand it to broader areas of international law and focus on the specific needs of Member States. It is important to ensure national ownership while assisting the countries in capacity and institution building including in the area of rule of law.
Bangladesh believes in peace and justice within the state, and in state to state relations. Bangladesh also believes in sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. As the world’s eighth largest democracy, Bangladesh firmly believes that the rule of law is a necessary pre-condition for sustainable peace and development in any society.
Bangladesh is actively promoting the rule of law and justice in all spheres of life, in particular through administrative, judicial and electoral reforms. We have a constitutional government elected through a free, fair, all inclusive and credible election. In order to improve rule of law, the government has been successful to separate the Judiciary from the Executive. Several independent Commissions have been formed, like, Anti-Corruption Commission (which functions as an independent watchdog), Law Commission, Election Commission, Information Commission to ensure Right to Information, Consumers Rights Commission and an all independent Human Rights Commission for upholding international standards of human rights and personal freedom in the country. Citizens’ Charter of Rights has been instituted in all public sector institutions to ensure that the government delivers the rule of law and public services to every citizen. Bangladesh is mindful of the importance of developing accountable and coherent law-enforcement institutions operating within the framework of international legal norms.
An important aspect to ensure rule of law in Bangladesh is the initiation of the ‘Trial of the War Criminals of 1971’. These War Criminals were involved in pre-mediated murder, rape, arson, killing, ethnic cleansing, looting of people’s property and assets and they committed ‘crime against humanity’. Utmost care is being made so that these are in compliance with International legal standards and norms.
To ensure the rule of law, the government made legal services affordable to the vulnerable and marginalized groups as women and minorities by enacting Legal Aid Services Regulation Act 2001. It led to a successful nationwide Legal Aid Services organization. These services from the national, district, upazilla, and even the union level provide free legal aid and access to justice through hotline services. Closely linked are the traditional, informal ‘Village Courts’ or ‘Shalish’ and ‘Family Courts’ which complement the state led rural justice system. These courts allow free of cost access to informal justice system at the grass roots following local customs and tradition. In the last two years, 15000 of 20000 cases were solved within 6 months with $380 million given as compensation to the victims. This is an outstanding rule of law achievement.
Our respect for international law, the UN Charter and pacific settlement of disputes, is reflected by our role as one of the top troop contributors to UN Peacekeeping operations. It is also reflected in our being party to almost all international conventions on disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, human rights, humanitarian law, counter-terrorism, transnational crimes etc. Our membership to all 14 international treaties to counter-terrorism; amendments of existing national laws of counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering between 2009 and 2012 to make them at par with international treaties; following the Palermo Convention of 2011; adoption of Human Trafficking Act; adoption of Mutual Legal Assistance in Crimes Act 2012, the Anti-terrorism Act; the Anti Money Laundering Act 2012, all reflect our commitment to counter-terrorism and rule of law.
Let me conclude by saying that Bangladesh is a responsible, peace loving nation and the government is a strong proponent of democracy, rule of law, human rights and secularism. It will continue doing so with the active moral, ethical and technical capacity building support of all stakeholders to the ‘rule of law’, our people, judiciary, law enforcement forces, the civil society, NGOs, social and community groups and organizations, our international development partners and all international institutions, particularly the United Nations, which we believe, will lead to the creation of a better universe for our future generations.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.