Stating that there is no quick fix to the Rohingya crisis, former Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Lord George Mark Malloch Brown yesterday urged the international community to put pressure on Myanmar to resolve the issue. “This is a classic dilemma of refugees … The reality is, these [refugee] problems don’t lend themselves quick fixes. It’s a steady problem,” he said while delivering the keynote speech at a symposium titled “The Relevance of the United Nations for Bangladesh: A Prognosis for Partnership” arranged by Cosmos Foundation at a city hotel.
Cosmos Foundation Chairman Enayetullah Khan delivered the welcome address at the event held with Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Principal Research Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, in the chair.
Malloch Brown said it requires “a great depth of patience and humanity” on Bangladesh’s side to manage this issue because a refugee population of that size in the part of the country is a huge burden.
The former Deputy Secretary General said a lot of political changes need to occur in Myanmar and the international community must exert pressure on it to secure that change. “I appeal to Bangladesh for patience,” he said, noting that these are not refugees who want to stay but conditions have got to be created to enable them to do that.
He said he believes the UN understands the frustration here and the need to find solution. “I think [the UN] wants to work with Bangladesh in this coming session of the UNGA to make sure that this issue gets the political prominence and it needs to move towards a solution,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion as special guest, Planning Minister MA Mannan said the UN bodies tremendously helped Bangladesh during the difficult days following its liberation. “So, UN is very relevance for a country like Bangladesh which sometime faces difficult situations for geopolitical reasons.”
About the concern over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Mannan said, “It’s still developing. We know there can be issues which may affect us in due course but we shouldn’t be speculative as I say friendship is much more valuable than this small time irritation. I think we can address it later.”
Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque said Bangladesh has always been attaching huge importance to multilateralism since its birth and that still continues. “We have a strong relation with UN and its affiliated bodies and huge support for them.”
“We’ve given lots of things to the UN not only in terms of our hummable financial contributions, but also our political contributions. Bangladesh is always been instrumental in the peace-building exercise both in the commission and others,” he observed.
The Foreign Secretary said there was a time when UN was the only international space where states could go and discuss their problems, issues and challenges. “But we see over the years we have origanisations like the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for international justice which has independently being developed. We have WTO where we can discuss border economic issues. We have also INGOs and some of them are almost as big as the UN bodies.”
He said the INGOs have created a huge space to discuss social issues, especially related to human sufferings. “So, the UN is under huge competition both from the international private organisations from some of the bodies that are being developed. And Bangladesh would like to continue remain active in both areas.”
Chairman of Cosmos Foundation Enayetullah Khan said as Bangladesh continues to march forward, the Cosmos Foundation would aspire to provide the “intellectual infrastructure” to support this phenomenon.
He said the symposium was arranged not just to underscore what Bangladesh does for the UN but also how a major element of the UN Charter in terms of global peace and stability can be suitably delivered.
Mentioning that the next session of the UN General Assembly is scheduled to commence in the last week of the current month, Khan hoped that deliberations at the symposium may be viewed as a ‘curtain-raiser’ to Bangladesh’s participation in that all-important occasion in New York.