UN urged to address issues affecting all nations

DHAKA, Sept 16, 2020 (BSS) – Rights activists, academics and diplomats today called for addressing economic, cultural and human rights issues affecting all nations on earth to regain dwindling global public confidence in the United Nations (UN) system.

They said the issues, such as migration, more pertinent to countries like Bangladesh, remain neglected at the UN forum while the world is increasingly being dominated by powerful ultra nationalist forces.

They emphasized a paradigm shift for the global body, also in the context of Covid-19 pandemic, as they came up with diverse, critical views at the international webinar marking the 75th anniversary of the UN.

The Center for Peace Studies of North South University in collaboration with the United Nations office in Bangladesh organised the discussion titled “The UN in Times of People’s Needs: Rethinking Multilateralism”, a press release said here.

Former National Human Rights Commission chairman Professor Mizanur Rahman said the UN has failed to balance between multilateralism and sovereignty of states and that’s been a big challenge for the UN.

“Our philosophy, our intention are not reflected in the international human rights documents… Human rights are being measured on a scale which is almost completely a western scale,” he said.

Professor Mizan observed that changes would not be possible without addressing an unjust economic order and incorporating the peoples’ economic, social and cultural rights.

Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General for the Commemoration of the United Nations’ 75th Anniversary Fabrizio Hochschild also acknowledged that multilateral systems were not working well.

Referring to feedback from people, he pointed out that the majority suggested the multilateral institutions should focus on improving access to basic services.

However, Ambassador Nahida Sobhan, a former Director-General of the UN at the foreign office, said the UN is still relevant because it is the largest multilateral forum for all nations to talk about issues.

Speaking on UN peacekeeping missions, Chief Instructor, Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operation Training (BIPSOT) Brigadier General Md. Rafiqul Islam mentioned that peacekeepers often had to engage with communities and political engagement is essential for durable peace.

Special Envoy of Norway’s foreign ministry Marita Sorheim-Rensvik appreciated Bangladesh for its contribution to peacekeeping, especially the engagement of women in such missions, apart from the country’s attainment in women empowerment.

Action Aid Bangladesh country director Farah Kabir pointed out that the UN needs to play a role in ensuring accurate information about vaccines as Covid-19 has exposed the health systems.

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