Statement by H.E. Ms. Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN at the General Debate of the Third Committee, 75th Session of the General Assembly (UNHQ, 05 October 2020)


Madam Chair,

Warmest congratulations on your election.

Bangladesh aligns itself with the statements delivered by Guyana on behalf of the Group-77 and China.

[Madam Chair] Our meeting is taking place at a time when the world is reeling from an unprecedented crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The reports presented to the Committee by the Secretary General captures the gravity of the situation. The impact is particularly severe for the developing countries, LDCs and other vulnerable countries. As we start our Committee work this year, we need to keep this context in all our proceedings.

[Madam Chair] We were pleased to see our achievements in the social sector recognized in the various reports of the Secretary General.

Bangladesh’s people-centric and ‘whole-of-society’ development approach with an emphasis on education and health, prepared us well in our pandemic response, as we focused on strengthening and expanding the existing social protection provisions to support the most vulnerable during the crisis.

We are concerned however, about the likely longer term impact of the pandemic on the development gains made, especially on the progress made in social development, especially of women and girls, strengthening institutions, human rights and the rule of law.  We had also made important gains in addressing global challenges such as terrorism and violent extremism, cyber-crimes, drugs and related crimes as well as on frontier issues which affect the enjoyment of human rights.

We are concerned by the alarming rise globally of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance in this pandemic situation.  National and global efforts would need to be intensified to avert any slide back in these areas.  The promotion and protection of all human rights, including the right to development, is of utmost importance to us.

[Madam Chair] In the outbreak of the pandemic in Bangladesh, the Government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promptly took a range of measures to address the health risk and its imminent impact on the ongoing socio-economic activities. We expanded social safety nets coverage to support more than 10 million families that included cash and food allocation.

These efforts are however, putting enormous stress on our modest resource base.  Furthermore, as you are aware, Bangladesh is also hosting over 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals, the Rohingyas, for over 3 years now, who were also brought under our Covid response programmes.  A resolution to the Rohingya crisis is not in sight. We seek this Committee’s support including a resolution to the Rohingya crisis.

Furthermore, during the pandemic, like many other migrant sending countries, Bangladesh is hard hit by the pandemic due to remittance drop, job loss and return of migrant workers, including women migrant workers, and the challenges of their rehabilitation and reemployment.

[Madam Chair] The overall economic downturn from the pandemic is seriously impacting other marginalized sections of the population, especially women and children.  Millions of children in the developing countries, who have limited or no access to online education, are left out of any learning environment in this pandemic.  This situation raises their risk to crimes such as trafficking, child labour, GBV and other forms of exploitation and abuse.

[Madam Chair] This is clearly not a business as usual session of the GA.  We cannot afford to view it as such.  We support your decision to devote our time and efforts to have concrete outcomes.  And these outcomes must address the priorities that are before us, with real time urgency.  We would like to see strong directions and decisions on the agenda before us, reflecting the current situation and realities.  We have to move beyond rhetoric; and come together to support efforts to arrest a reversal of the gains made on the issues before the Committee, in reaching the SDGs.

My delegation will support your efforts to advance the work of this Committee, and to work with all in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation.

I thank you, Madam Chair.