Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Happy New Year!
This has been such an extraordinary year. A year that tested the depth of our resilience; and our ability to adapt to the ‘new normal’ of the virtual world. The pandemic upended our lives, but at the same time created many opportunities to reinforce our belief in the strength of multilateralism and the United Nations. Complex intergovernmental negotiations, summits and ministerial meetings, were all held virtually. And that was made possible because of the tremendous convergence of purpose and determination, solidarity and camaraderie in the global community, never seen before in the UN’s 75 years of existence. As I write this message, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and accomplishment. It was an honour to have represented Bangladesh in the comity of nations during this challenging period and play our part in responding to the crisis and charting the way to build back better, together.
Many of us lost our near and dear ones to Covid this year. I extend my heartfelt condolences to them for their loss. May we all find comfort and strength in each other as we move on.
The year 2020 was special on many counts. It was a year that Bangladesh and Bangladeshis everywhere were preparing to celebrate the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Our elaborate year-long programme at the UN had to be put on hold, as Covid restrictions were put in place in the UN premises. Of the planned events, we managed to launch the Bangabandhu Lounge in the Mission premises, and to bring out a set of commemorative stamps with the UN to mark UN Peacekeeping Day and Bangabandhu’s contribution to shaping Bangladesh’s role in UN peace operations. With the celebration of the Birth Centenary now extended until December 2021, we hope to take our celebrations to the UN, in a befitting manner with the participation of other member states during the course of the New Year.
The year 2020 also marked the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. The UN member states rose to the occasion by ensuring a full blown UNGA commemorative high-level week with the highest number of world leaders in attendance – all virtually. Declarations and agreements, numerous resolutions, almost all negotiated online, were adopted, representing our determination not to be daunted and defeated by the pandemic. I believe our decisions helped to minimize and mitigate the impact of the pandemic, towards a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient future.
Bangladesh had a busy year amidst the pandemic. Our peacekeepers continued to be deployed in conflict zones, and we were able to emerge as the leading troop and police contributing country (TPCC) for UN peace operations in 2020. We continued to be a strong voice and advocate on climate change issues, migration and the challenges being faced by the vulnerable developing countries. We led and joined initiatives in the UN relating to migrants’ plights, universal health coverage, global ceasefire, infodemics, digital access, violence against women, mental health, poverty eradication, financing for development, etc.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister attended a total of 8 high-level meetings and events of the UN from September to December, including the commemorative meeting to mark the 75th anniversary of the UN and the special session on the Covid-19 response. Her participation in this range of events demonstrated her strong commitment to the UN. Her bold and dynamic leadership were highly acclaimed by the world body and other participating leaders.
Besides, the Hon’ble Foreign Minister, Hon’ble Finance Minister, Hon’ble State Minister and other high officials also participated in a wide range of ministerial meetings.
In January this year, I was honoured to assume the presidency of the UNICEF executive board, and welcomed the opportunity to work with member states and UNICEF colleagues to ensure that the pandemic health crisis did not become a ‘children’s crisis’. It was an honour again to be elected this month as the vice-president of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS executive board for 2021. Last month, the President of the General Assembly appointed me as a Co-Facilitator with Ambassador Darja Kuret, PR of Slovenia, to lead the Agenda Alignment process. I see in these appointments a recognition of the constructive role of Bangladesh in the world body, and an opportunity to contribute to the work of these important organizations, especially now as we devote our efforts and energy to build back better from the pandemic crisis.
As we look forward to ushering in a new year tomorrow, I am optimistic that we may soon be turning the corner from the pandemic as vaccines roll out. We need to make sure that vaccines are considered as a global public good and are made accessible and affordable to all.
2021 is a special year for us, as it marks the golden jubilee of our Independence. An occasion that we wish to celebrate by recommitting ourselves to fulfilling the dreams of building a Shonar Bangla (Golden Bengal) as envisioned by the Father of the Nation. Under the dynamic leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, we are confident of reaching that in the coming days as we steadily progress towards fulfilling her Vision 2021 and Vision 2041.
My talented and dedicated team here, and I, remain committed to play our part in achieving that goal. We look forward to working with our friends and partners in the UN and beyond, to make our world a better one, built on the firm foundations of multilateralism, global solidarity, and the enduring principles of peace, development and human rights, for all. That is our resolution for 2021.
I wish all our friends and partners, and fellow Bangladeshis, a joyous holiday season and continued peace, progress and prosperity in the New Year. Stay well, stay safe.
Happy New Year!
Ambassador & Permanent Representative