স্বাধীন বাংলাদেশের প্রথম মহিলা প্রধানমন্ত্রী হিসেবে ১৯৯৩ সালে জাতিসংঘের ৪৮ তম সাধারণ অধিবেশনে প্রথমবারের মত বাংলায় বক্তব্য রাখেন বাংলাদেশ জাতীয়তাবাদী দল, বিএনপি চেয়ারপার্সন ও তৎকালীন প্রধানমন্ত্রী দেশনেত্রী বেগম খালেদা জিয়া।
১৯৯৩ সালের ১লা অক্টোবর, শুক্রবার, বিকেল ৩টা ৩০ মিনিটে গুয়েনার ইনসেনালির সভাপতিত্বে অনুষ্ঠিত জাতিসংঘের ৪৮ তম সাধারণ অধিবেশনের ১৩ তম প্লানারি মিটিংয়ে দেশনেত্রী বেগম খালেদা জিয়া তার ঐতিহাসিক বক্তব্য প্রধান করেন। উক্ত বক্তব্যে দেশনেত্রী বেগম খালেদা জিয়া জাতিসংঘকে বিশ্বের জাতিগত ঐক্যের সবচেয়ে গ্রহণযোগ্য প্লাটফর্ম হিসেবে বর্ণনা করে বিশ্বসংহতির লক্ষ্যে তার উন্নয়ন পরিকল্পনা উপস্থাপন করেন।
প্রথমেই তিনি জাতিসংঘের তৎকালীন মহাসচিব বুট্রোস ঘালিকে অভিনন্দন জানান। এরপর জাতিসংঘে অংশগ্রহণকারী ৫টি নতুন রাষ্ট্র এন্ডোরা, ইরিত্রিয়া, চেক রিপাবলিক, মনোকো, সাবেক যুগোস্লাভিয়ার মেসোডোনিয়া ও স্লোভোকিয়াকে অভিনন্দন জানান।
তিনি তার বক্তব্যে যেসব বিষয় তুলে ধরেন তার মধ্যে অন্যতম হচ্ছে বিশ্বব্যাপী উদারনৈতিক গণতন্ত্রের বিকাশ, বিশ্ব পরিমণ্ডলে অর্থনৈতিক এবং সাংস্কৃতিক উন্নয়ন ও বিকাশ, আন্তর্জাতিক অঙ্গনে আইনের শাসন, জাতিসমূহের সার্বভৌমত্ব, মানবাধিকার, প্রযুক্তির উন্নয়ন ও বিকাশ, বিশ্বব্যাপী জলবায়ু পরিবর্তন ও মোকাবেলা, বিদ্যমান জ্বালানির ব্যবহার কমিয়ে বিকল্প জ্বালানির সন্ধান, দারিদ্র বিমোচন, স্বাস্থ্যসেবা, দক্ষিন পূর্ব এশিয়ার আঞ্চলিক সংহতিতে সার্কের ভূমিকা, প্রতিবেশি দেশ ভারতের সাথে অভিন্ন নদী সঙ্কট নিরসন ও ফারাক্কা সমস্যার সমাধান, পরিবেশ দূষন এবং মোকাবেলা, ইউএনএইচসিআর (UNHCR) এর আওতায় মায়ানমারের দুই লাখ পঞ্চাশ হাজার শরণার্থী বাংলাদেশ প্রবেশ, বসনিয়া সঙ্কট, জাতিসঙ্ঘের শান্তিরক্ষী মিশনে বাংলাদেশী সেনাদের ভূমিকা, ফিলিস্তিন সঙ্কট, ডাল-ভাত কর্মসূচী ইত্যাদি।
তিনি তার বক্তব্যে শেষে ১৩ বছর পূর্বে জাতিসংঘের ১১তম বিশেষ অধিবেশনের তৃতীয় প্লানারি মিটিংয়ে তৎকালীন ৩য় বিশ্বের নেতা শহীদ রাষ্ট্রপতি জিয়াউর রহমানের দেয়া কিছু ঐতিহাসিক দূরদর্শী বক্তব্য তুলে ধরেন।
জাতিসংঘের ১১ তম বিশেষ অধিবেশনের ৩য় প্লানারি মিটিংয়ে প্রয়াত রাষ্ট্রপতি জিয়াউর রহমান বলেছিলেন, ‘আমাদেরকে অবশ্যই সমকালীন বিশ্বের চ্যালেঞ্জ মোকাবেলা করতে হবে। আমাদেরকে দৃঢ় এবং সদূরপ্রসারী পরিকল্পনা গ্রহণ করতে হবে। আমরা যদি সনাতন ধারা এবং চিন্তা-চেতনার মধ্যে আটকে থাকি তাহলে আমাদের পক্ষে চ্যালেঞ্জসমূহ মোকাবেলা করা সম্ভবপর হবে না। মানবজাতির প্রতিটি ক্ষেত্রে উন্নত এবং মহৎজীবনের জন্য আমাদের সবাইকে একত্রে কাজ করতে হবে।’
দেশনেত্রী বেগম খালেদা জিয়া বলেছিলেন, জিয়াউর রহমানের কথাগুলো আজকের বিশ্বের জন্য অত্যন্ত তাৎপর্যপূর্ণ।
জাতিসংঘের ৪৮তম সাধারণ অধিবেশনে দেশনেত্রী বেগম খালেদা জিয়ার সম্পূর্ণ বক্তব্যটি জাতিসংঘের ওয়েবসাইট থেকে সংগ্রহ করে নিচে তুলে দেয়া হল।
ADDRESS BY BEGUM KHALEDA ZIA, PRIME MINISTER OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH:
The PRESIDENT (interpretation from Spanish): The Assembly will now hear an address by the Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.
Begum Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, was escorted to the rostrum.
The PRESIDENT (interpretation from Spanish): I have pleasure in welcoming the Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, Her Excellency Begum Khaleda Zia, and inviting her to address the General Assembly.
Begum Khaleda ZIA (Bangladesh) (spoke in Bengali; English text furnished by the delegation): At this juncture, on the eve of the twenty-first century, when the concepts of democracy, human rights and world-wide cooperation are on the ascendancy, I stand before this session of the United Nations General Assembly to share with Members Bangladesh's views on the current world situation. I am here to affirm our commitment to the emerging faith in the prospects for peace, prosperity and balanced development throughout the world. In the light of the realities of the world today, the United Nations is universally accepted as the most effective platform for multilateralism. I should like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our unwavering confidence in the United Nations.
Before proceeding, I should like to extend to Ambassador Insanally our most cordial greetings on his election to the presidency of the forty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly. We are confident that his wisdom and experience will add new dimensions and dynamism to the activities of the United Nations.
At the same time, we are also grateful to our Secretary-General, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, for his
determined efforts, which have given new vigour to the activities of this forum. He has been guiding the United Nations with great dexterity and success through a critical period of transition. I should like to reiterate our continued support for his endeavours in fulfilling his important task.
Five new nations have recently joined us in the United Nations. I welcome them in our midst. We look forward to working in close cooperation with our new Members: Andorra, Eritrea, the Czech Republic, Monaco, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Slovakia.
An unprecedented rise in democratic aspirations world-wide precipitated the end of the cold war. There is a growing optimism about the prospect of a new world economic order based on equitable distribution of resources and human rights. Bangladesh is proud to have played a definite role in the world-wide resurgence of democracy. About two and a half years ago, we succeeded in establishing a truly democratic Government following the elimination of the old autocratic regime, which had lasted about a decade.
Democracy and development are mutually reinforcing. Our success on the road to democracy depends largely on our ability to tackle the challenge of alleviating poverty. We have many limitations: there is a lack of capital; we lag behind in technology. Handicapped by resource constraints as we are, it is not possible for us to undertake this difficult task alone: we need the cooperation of all.
Today, democracy is universally recognized as the best political system. Democracy aims at building a prosperous society by creating avenues for the unstinted development of human creativity and skill. If the process of development is disrupted, democracy and stability are threatened. Nurturing the emerging democratic spirit in the third-world countries calls for sincere cooperation from the developed industrialized nations.
Today there exists a yawning gap between the economies and cultures of the developed countries of the North and those of the developing countries of the South. But one must realize that poverty is not the same as bankruptcy: the South, where Bangladesh belongs, has a glorious past, when there was economic and cultural prosperity. We are now engaged in the task of building a new future based on our culture, tradition and availability of resources. For us, it is a matter of pride and satisfaction that our people's love for freedom has found concrete shape in the establishment of democracy.
We want to emphasize human creativity and human capacity to toil. The much-talked-about new concept of a "human development index" does not seem to be adequate: we feel that it must capture the indigenous culture and values of differing civilizations. We believe that a new dimension will be added to the overall development framework of the less developed countries if this proposal is accepted.
Our prime objective is to build a prosperous society and economy by consolidating national independence, sovereignty, human rights and democracy. This calls for guaranteeing the security of small States like ours. As we work on new equations in international relations, the United Nations must take effective measures to ensure the security of small States. The hopes and aspirations of millions of people are linked to this. We feel that in the new world order that is taking shape following the end of the cold war, mutual respect between large and small States should be the only recognized norm. In order to ensure a future free from war and conflict, it is imperative that we ensure the sovereignty of small States.
We believe that the international rule of law has a vital role to play in ensuring the security of small and weak States. The priority areas in this context are: a river-water convention; the law of the sea; environmental protection; and the status of refugees, economic migrants and displaced persons. Universal acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice without reservation has become an urgent necessity in the pursuit of peace.
We all live on the same planet. World civilization today and its accumulated store of knowledge is the joint achievement of all peoples of the world. Everyone has a claim to an equal share of the world's resources and prosperity. The great disparity that exists in the field of technology must be removed; therefore, we want a free flow of technology. We feel that the exclusivity of intellectual property rights is a great hindrance, frustrating the transfer of technology; we call upon all concerned to refrain from taking a selfish view in this regard. A similar discriminatory attitude is also evident with regard to the flow of information: this is contrary to the concept of a free flow of information throughout the globe. In order to establish a well-balanced world community, it is imperative to ensure the free flow of both information and technology.
Our existence is inseparable from the existence of our planet, and the existence of our planet is threatened today. The ecological balance is being disrupted, but the blame is being conveniently shifted to the developing countries:
unfair conditions regarding the environment are being imposed on them. In many ways, the industrially developed countries are mainly responsible for environmental pollution. Given the resource constraints of the developing countries, their capacity to pollute the environment is very insignificant: they are more preoccupied with resolving their economic problems. We believe that the major responsibility for the prevention of environmental pollution lies, therefore, with the developed countries. Those industrially developed countries that pollute the environment in catering for their peoples' demands for high living must bear the responsibility of mending the damage done.
We are acutely conscious of the need to protect the environment. We are frugal in our use of fuel, electricity and water resources. Bangladesh's industrial sector contributes only marginally to environmental pollution. Our jute industry and jute products are more acceptable, in environmental terms, than various chemical and synthetic products. However, in the face of the massive expansion of the use of synthetic fibres that pollute the environment our jute industry is threatened with extinction. Millions of people in several countries, including Bangladesh, depend on the jute industry for their living. Thus, the production of synthetic fibres must be stopped, in the interests of the environment as well as of the millions who toil in the jute sector.
We call upon the donor countries and the aid organizations, in providing assistance, to pay due attention to our indigenous initiatives and development programmes. The success of the development process would thus become almost impossible. Unrealistic conditions create unnecessary obstacles in the way of the development process and the smooth progress of democracy.
In this context, I admit that a State cannot hope to become self-reliant through external aid and assistance alone. What we really need is liberalization of trade. Unfortunately, however, in the field of external trade the developing countries are being subjected to all sorts of discrimination by the developed countries. This must give way to strong and realistic North-South trade links based on equality. To this end, the immediate and satisfactory conclusion to the Uruguay Round of negotiations has become imperative. Together with development assistance, we seek trade and investment. In Bangladesh we have created a highly congenial climate for external investment. Contemporary experience has proved that the desired development cannot be achieved through dependence on external assistance alone; it is essential that trade and investment be expanded at the same time.
We are engaged in an earnest endeavour to achieve economic prosperity by building upon our indigenous heritage. We are striving to forge a more productive and efficient workforce. We have made considerable progress in the field of structural reform of the economy. Inflation is at its lowest level. After long years of recession, there has been a definite increase in the rate of growth in agriculture and industry.
We have also made considerable progress in the expansion of education. We have launched the programme entitled "Food for Education" as a means of ensuring the right to education of the poorer sections of our population. We aim to achieve a literacy rate of 60 per cent by the year 2000. We have initiated a national social programme with a view to restricting the population within a desirable level. Our efforts have brought us to the threshold of self-sufficiency in the production of food grains.
In consonance with current world trends, we have also subscribed to a market economy. As I said earlier, in economic considerations poverty is the main economic challenge that we face. In tackling this challenge, we have adopted a new development model, whose purpose is to ensure extensive participation by the people in the development process. We have adopted the "Daal Bhaat" programme, which envisages the provision of basic nutrition for the poor and deprived masses and the development of human resources.
We are expanding sanitation and primary health care facilities throughout the country. Special priority is being given to the integration of women in the development process. In this area, the Grameen Bank, the Rural Development Board and the Agricultural Bank are making a commendable contribution.
We must encourage regional cooperation as a supplement to our efforts in multilateral cooperation. Against this backdrop, the seven countries of South Asia set up the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). As the current Chairperson of SAARC, I am trying to intensify development cooperation between the member countries. During the seventh SAARC Summit, which was held in Dhaka in April this year, we adopted some specific programmes for poverty alleviation. Besides, initiatives have also been taken to further promote cooperation in various fields, including trade, education and culture.
Along with regional cooperation, we have attached priority to the development and strengthening of good
neighbourly relations and to the resolution of outstanding bilateral problems with our neighbours. Unfortunately, however, some issues remain unresolved with our neighbour India, the most important one being the sharing of water. We have not yet succeeded in convincing India as to what is our fair share of water from the rivers that flow through the two countries. We share 54 rivers. Historically, and under international law, we have a right – an inherent and legal right – to the water resources of the common rivers. But since completion of the Farakka Barrage, India has been unilaterally drawing Ganges water upstream. Withdrawal of water during the dry season causes serious drought, while the release of excess water during the rainy season produces severe floods in Bangladesh. This has created unimaginable adverse effects on the economy and environment of Bangladesh.
The pledges given by India when the Farakka Barrage was commissioned remain unfulfilled. This unilateral withdrawal of water, in complete disregard of the interests of the people of Bangladesh, has brought more than 40 million people in the Ganges basin – or, rather, the Padma basin – face to face with catastrophe, with disaster.
The Farakka Barrage has become, for us, an issue of life or death. Owing to obstruction of the natural flow at the Barrage, a process of desertification is evident throughout the northern and western parts of Bangladesh. As a result, vegetation is dwindling, and, in the south, the spreading salinity threatens industries and agriculture with ruin. Increased siltation is reducing the navigability of rivers. Fish and animals will soon be in danger of extinction. Innumerable people, in various occupations, who depended on the river Padma for their living are becoming unemployed. Many are being uprooted from their homes and hearths.
While the whole world is voicing concern about protection of the environment, a large proportion of Bangladesh's population is being pushed to the threshold of poverty and destruction. This is nothing but a gross violation of human rights and justice. To put it simply, our economic structure is faced with disaster because of the Farakka Barrage.
India could have played an important role in strengthening mutual trust between the two countries if it had lived up to its pledges on the question of water sharing. We feel that this is still possible. We believe that the world community sincerely wishes to see Bangladesh succeed in its struggle to dislodge the burden of poverty that has accumulated over the ages. But how can we, with our
meagre resources, ever hope to achieve that objective if man-made obstacles stand in our way? Bangladesh wishes, therefore, to draw the attention of the world community to this issue, in the interest of establishing human rights, protecting the right to natural resources and ensuring the process of development. Something must be done urgently to end this inhuman treatment of the people of Bangladesh. We firmly believe that arrangements must be made to ensure a fair sharing of the water resources of the Ganges by signing a permanent agreement immediately.
We believe in the policy of friendship, cooperation and peaceful coexistence with all countries of the world. We have unwavering faith in the principle of the resolution of all problems with all countries, and particularly with our neighbours, through peaceful negotiations. Congenial conditions have been created for the return of the tribal refugees who left their homes in the Chittagong Hill districts and have been in India for a long time. This became possible following a bilateral understanding that was reached with India last May.
Despite obvious economic, social and environmental difficulties, Bangladesh has given shelter to 250,000 refugees from Myanmar. Bangladesh has not sent back even one single refugee by force. I am happy to report that after constructive negotiations with all parties concerned, including Myanmar and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a congenial atmosphere has been created for the safe and voluntary repatriation of the refugees. We hope this will lead to a permanent solution of the problem.
Our hopes for a new, peaceful international order were raised following the end of the cold war. But these hopes seem to be fading in the face of current realities. The forces of communalism, racialism and regional hegemony are raising their heads in different regions of the world. As a result, mankind is threatened. The blatant violation of the national and human rights of the Bosnian Muslims at the hands of the armed Serbian aggressors is a matter of great shame for the whole of mankind. The oppression and genocide unleashed by the Serbs against unarmed civilians in the name of the abhorrent policy of "ethnic cleansing" is a source of agony for all people of conscience. The unabated perpetration of this genocide naturally focuses attention on the unequal application of the concept of human rights. A nation and its existence as a State are being obliterated solely because of religious hatred. The double standard of supplying arms to the Serbs and the Croats while the Muslims remain unarmed is tantamount to violation of human rights. In the interest of establishing human rights
Forty-eighth session – 1 October l993 23
and justice, we call upon the United Nations and all the powerful States of the world to take definite steps to preserve the independence and sovereignty of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bangladesh has always hoped for world peace and prosperity. Active participation in United Nations peace-keeping efforts has been a priority for us. Some of the significant examples of such participation are the monitoring of elections in Namibia, policing the cease-fire line in the Gulf, clearing mines and contributing to reconstruction efforts in Kuwait and assisting the United Nations peace efforts in Cambodia, Somalia and Mozambique. We strongly support the strengthening of the financial and institutional base of peace-keeping and its growth. We are concerned at the observation on the financial crisis of the world body made by the Secretary-General in his report. We urge the affluent Member States to come forward and assist in overcoming the crisis to keep the United Nations strong and effective.
The recent historic accord between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel is a positive first step towards the establishment of a long-waited peace in the Middle East. We welcome this initiative. We hope that Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories, including Jerusalem, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State will be the final objective of these efforts.
We remain steadfast in our support for the struggle of the people of South Africa to achieve their cherished goal of equal rights and majority rule. In response to the appeal made here in the Assembly by Nelson Mandela, our Government is moving towards lifting economic sanctions against South Africa.
Vicious cycles of starvation and violence, a breakdown of central authority and endless conflicts continue to bedevil in varying ways the situations in Somalia, Angola, Liberia, Rwanda and Mozambique. We call upon the United Nations to take comprehensive measures to establish peace in these areas in a more effective manner.
Thirteen years ago, during a similar session of this forum, Bangladesh's great leader and a champion of the interests of the third world, the late President Ziaur Rahman, issued a clarion call:
"We must face the challenge of the contemporary world. The need of the hour is for bold and imaginative action. We will not find solutions if we cling to outdated concepts and institutions. We must
act in concert and work for a better and nobler life for all sectors of the family of mankind." (Official Records of the General Assembly, Eleventh Special Session, 3rd plenary meeting, para. 46)
His words are all the more significant today.
We are poised at a critical juncture in the advancement of world peace and stability. No doubt violence, aggression, racism, ethnic and religious conflict and gaping social and economic disparities still exist. Despite these contradictions, there is today a greater confidence and conviction that a brave new world is truly within our reach. We are faced with a rare opportunity to sustain the momentum towards the peaceful resolution of conflicts, to strengthen the rule of law and to raise the quality of life in greater freedom. Democratic values, the human spirit, human solidarity and the appropriate realization of human development are central to achieving these objectives. Today, as we approach the end of the twentieth century, we look forward to a balanced, tolerant and happy world community where democracy, peace, development and human welfare will be equally available to all. This was really the driving force behind the establishment of the United Nations. We have spent half a century in pursuit of this goal. As we enter the coming century, this must not remain a mere dream. Let this be our pledge to the next generation.
The PRESIDENT (interpretation from Spanish): On behalf of the General Assembly, I wish to thank the Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh for the statement she has just made.
Begum Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, was escorted from the rostrum.