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UN thumbs-up for PM's peace model

Peace-focused plan could form basis for new global program

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (seated at center) with conference participants in Dhaka Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (seated at center) with conference participants in Dhaka
  • ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka
  • Bangladesh
  • August 8, 2012
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Representatives from 62 UN member states and NGOs this week expressed their support for a peace and development model tabled by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

First proposed at last year’s General Assembly in New York, the model aims to tackle a host of issues through a focus on peace and social empowerment. It addresses topics such as poverty eradication, equality throughout society and sustainable development. It also seeks to curb the threat of terrorism.

UN representatives and others met to discuss the model on Monday, during a conference at the Hotel Ruposhi Bangla in Dhaka.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told journalists that recommendations drafted during the conference will be incorporated in time for its presentation before the next General Assembly in October, when the evaluation of new global development models will be high on the agenda.

Moni said the prime minister’s peace model “speaks not only of economic development, but also social and political inclusion of all segments of people in a country.”

Jairam Ramesh, Indian minister for rural development and a delegate at the conference, said Hasina’s model should be considered as a template for a new program of Sustainable Development Goals, a successor to the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the UN in 2000 and set to conclude in 2015.

“It is inclusive and is applicable to all countries of the world, whereas the Millennium Development Goals that originated in the West were meant only for developing countries,” Ramesh said at a press conference on Monday.

Bangladesh has seen improvements in several social areas, with maternal and infant mortality falling by 40 percent and 65 percent respectively over the last two decades, according to UNICEF.

A government-sponsored survey conducted last year also found an 8.5 percent drop in poverty and nearly 100 percent enrollment for primary school-aged children. However, general literacy levels still have much room for improvement, as do several other social problems.

Prodip Kumar Roy, chief executive of the Online Knowledge Network website, said that Hasina’s model was a good one, but the country is still struggling to implement at home the initiatives that it proposes abroad.

“People have little access to the decision-making process,” he said.

“Local government units where politicians are elected should be empowered so that people can participate in the planning development agenda, and financial budgets should also be designed through peoples’ engagement.”

A Dhaka-based journalist, who asked not to be named, pointed out that the country also has a poor record on ethnic issues, particularly the disenfranchisement of tribals.

“Also, the peace model says nothing about the eradication of corruption, a major barrier to development,” the journalist said.

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