Statement by Mr. Tareq Md Ariful Islam, Deputy Permanent Representative, on the agenda item no:  81 “Crimes against Humanity” at the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee, 14 October 2020

Mr. Chair,

This agenda item is an important addition to the work of the Sixth Committee. We welcome the adoption of the resolution 74/187 by the General Assembly in December 2019 on Crimes against Humanity.

I thank the International Law Commission for drafting articles on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity contained in the chapter four of its report A/74/10 and submission of those articles to the General Assembly for consideration. I also thank the commission for its recommendation for elaboration of a Convention on Crimes against Humanity by the General Assembly or by an international conference based on the draft articles. We consider these as important for codification and progressive development of international law.

Mr. Chair,

Crimes against humanity is a despicable affront to human civilization. During our War of Liberation in 1971, Bangladesh also had the bitter experience of enduing this crime alongside genocide and war crimes inflicted on us.  More than three million of our people lost their lives and around two hundred thousand women lost their dignity.

The International Criminal Court does not have any retrospective mandate over this crime committed before 2000. Therefore, in full conformity with the ‘complementarity’ principle of the Rome Statute of ICC, the Government of Bangladesh established the International Crimes Tribunals, Bangladesh in 2010 to ensure justice for the crimes against humanity and genocide committed in our territory in 1971. Till date, the Tribunal has given 35 verdicts and convicted 12 individuals for committing crimes against humanity and genocide proven against each one them beyond reasonable doubts. This is a demonstration of our commitment to upholding international law.

Mr. Chair,

Sadly, Bangladesh is having to bear again the fall out of crimes against humanity, this time being perpetrated in our bordering country Myanmar. Because of the atrocities of the government of Myanmar unleashed on its own nationals in the Rakhine State, hundreds and thousands of them have taken shelters in different neighbouring countries including Bangladesh. As this committee is aware, Bangladesh is hosting more than 1.1 million Rohingyas fleeing atrocities in the Rakhine State. Ending these crimes and ensuing justice and accountability for their perpetration hold the key to sustainable resolution of the Rohingya crisis.

Crimes against humanity are one of the most serious concerns to the international community. Therefore, such crimes must be prevented which would require national, regional and global efforts. I wish to make few points in this regard:

First, the primary responsibility of protection of its people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity lies with the state itself. A state must prevent crimes against humanity within its own jurisdiction. In case, a state fails, the international community should cooperate and take necessary measures to hold accountable the perpetrators responsible for crimes against humanity. The situation in the Rakhine state of Myanmar is a glaring case in point.

Second, crimes against humanity threaten international peace and security. The Security Council has the primary responsibility under UN Charter to restore and maintain international peace and security.  It should, therefore, resolutely play its part to prevent this heinous crime from happening in any part of the world.

Third, the International Criminal Court, other international legal bodies and tribunals can certainly play a more pivotal role in ensuring justice and ending the crimes against humanity.

Fourth, we wish to see a UN Convention on Crimes against Humanity as a reality. The negotiation process to convert the ILC draft articles to a convention must be carried out in an inclusive and transparent manner.

Realization of the aforesaid aspirations requires political will first and foremost. We seek support of member states in this regard.

Mr. Chair,

In its foreign policy pursuits, Bangladesh would remain committed in doing its part in the world stage to prevent crimes against humanity.

I thank you.