The Foreign Policy of Bangladesh emanates from the following provisions of the Bangladesh Constitution:
1. The State shall base its international relations on the principles of respect for national sovereignty and equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, peaceful settlements of international disputes, and respect for international law and the principles enunciated in the United Nations Charter, and on the basis of those principles shall-
a) Strive for the renunciation of the use of force in international relations and for general and complete disarmament;
b) Uphold the right of every people freely to determine and build up its own social, economic and political system by ways and means of its own free choice; and
c) Support oppressed peoples throughout the world waging a just struggle against imperialism colonialism or racialism.
2. The State shall endeavour to consolidate, preserve and strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic solidarity.
As a contributing members of the international community, Bangladesh has a proactive foreign policy that places, apart from pursuing bilateral cooperative relations, an accent on multilateralism, especially at the United Nations. In 1974, Bangladesh joined both the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations and has since been elected to serve two terms on the Security Council in 1978-1979 and 2000-2001. In the 1980s, Bangladesh played a lead role in founding the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in order to expand relations with other South Asian states. Bangladesh is also a member of the Non-aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and regional forums like IOR-ARC, BIMSTEC, Asia Cooperation Dialogue and D-8.
The forward-looking foreign policy of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government is essentially rooted on the principle of ‘friendship with all and malice towards none’ as propounded by the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. As an active member of the UN, the Non-aligned Movement, the OIC, the Commonwealth and various other international forums, Bangladesh promotes global peace, stability, cooperation and development. Bangladesh had pioneered the formation of SAARC- a regional cooperation body comprising the eight nations of South Asia-namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The country has vigorously pursued the cause of enhancing cooperation with neighboring countries of South Asia and South-east Asia. Remarkable breakthroughs have already been made in improving friendly relations with India through highly successful official visits by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni, M.P.
Since assumption of office in January 2009, the present government has been pursuing an active foreign policy geared, inter alia, to maximize economic goals. Priority emphasis is placed now on bolstering trade, connectivity and economic ties with the countries of South and Southeast Asia. Bangladesh has already signed agreements for free trade areas under the aegis of SAARC and BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand Economic Cooperation). Vigorous efforts are also being made for enhancing both expanded markets as well as better terms of employment for Bangladeshi workforce including professionals.
The country remains firmly committed to the consensus for a terrosism-free world order and for a peaceful, prosperous and balanced global development.
During the 14th SAARC Summit in Bhutan in 2010, Bangladesh mooted the ” SAARC Charter for Democracy”, which was unanimously accepted by the summit.
The 17th SAARC summit that held on 10-11 November 2011 in Addu, Maldives with the theme ‘Building Bridges’. There are four regional agreement have been signed and adopt 20 points declaration that emcompasses areas like regional connectivity to trade promotion and counter terrorism measures in the summit.
Bangladesh played an important role in the summit. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proposed an unfettered movement of the peoples and workers easing the rules and regulations to make fruitful the theme `Building Bridge”. Some 12-point of the 20-point addu declaration has been adopted from the Prime Minister’s speech.
BIMSTECThere was no permanent secretariat of BIMSTEC. Its functions have been operated at Bangkok’s BIMSTEC center from 2004 to 2010. The permanent secretariat of BIMSTEC is going to be established in Dhaka. The decision has been taken in the 13th Ministerial meeting held on 22 January, 2011 in Myanmar capital Nay Pyi Taw. The decision of establishing the renowned regional organizations reflected the dependence and trust on Bangladesh of the BIMSTEC members. The establishment of permanent secretariat of BIMSTEC is the output of the incumbent government’s successful foreign police and a fruitful publicity of the government.
Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been in active diplomatic dealings for last three years in the different international forums to improve the country’s image in the international arena as a progressive democratic and responsible one. Hon’ble Prime Minister presented a “Peace Model” in the 66th session of UNGA as a first time that main theme “People’s empowerment”.”The ‘people’s empowerment’ peace model was adopted as a resolution at the 2nd committee of the general assembly 23rd November 2011.”
The six multipliers of her proposed peace model include eradication of poverty and hunger, reduction of inequality, mitigation of deprivation, inclusion of excluded people, and acceleration of human development and elimination of terrorism. Prime Minister’s speeches were lots applauded in the 64th, 65th and 66th UNGA sessions where she made commitments to achieve the MDGs and the incumbent government’s Vission-2021.
In those speeches Hon’ble Prime Minister thanked to the world leaders including USA President for extending assistant to Bangladesh in achieving women empowerment and MDGs and Bangladesh contribution in UN peace keeping. UN Secretary General Ban KI Moon dubbed Bangladesh as “Rising Star” in the field of women empowerment and “Role Model “for achieving MDGs during the bilateral talks.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina delivered her speech in Bangla on 24 September 2011 during the 66th UNGA which was a special moment for Prime Minister and diplomatically significant. Father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered Country Statement in bangle in the UNGA session on the same day before 37 years ago. Prime Minister delivered speech in the world leader’s dialogue of Clinton Global Initiative as sole head of government from South Asia region and succeeded to have an attraction to the world community that Bangladesh is a most vulnerable country for climate change. Prime Minister delivered speech in a programme on `Economic Empowerment of Rural Women’ and the government initiatives in promoting women empowerment especially for rural women in political, economic, social and cultural development that received international recognition.
Besides, UN Secretary General alongwith head of states or government recognized Bangladesh for its achievement on MDG regarding women and children in a special program entitled Every Women Every Child. Another success of diplomacy at the LDC’s ministerial meeting in 66thUNGA that Bangladesh firmly proposed three points of Bangladesh interest concerned regarding trade and climate issues which finally accepted in the declaration.
The government’s legal initiatives and successes eradicating terrorism and militancy have been achieved international appreciation in a high profile symposium on entitled “Eradication of Terrorism”. Bangladesh firmly proposed to recognize Palestine as sovereign country and ensure the membership of UN in the NAM Committee-Palestine which highly appreciated by developing countries including Palestine and other equal-minded countries.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister’s speeches have been lots applauded in the 64th, 65th and 66th UNGA sessions where she made commitments to achieve the MDGs and the incumbent government’s Vission-2021. In those speeches Hon’ble Prime Minister thanked to the world leaders including USA President for extending assistant to Bangladesh in achieving women empowerment and MDGs and Bangladesh contribution in UN peace keeping. Recently Bangladesh has been elected as member of about 35 upper bodies of the United Nations that made a record. At the same time it is a reflection of the international community’s trust to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh accomplished survey of Seismic in March 2010 to Bathymetry in December 2010 to experiment the depth of sea to know the continental shelf of Bay of Bengal that part of Bangladesh. Bangladesh submitted its demand of continental shelf of the Bay of Bengal with necessary technical and scientific data to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).
The pleadings by the Bangladesh and Myanmar (both the written and oral pleadings) with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg, Germany, have been completed by the parties within less than two years. Now the outcome of the case is expected to be pronounced in the form of Judgment by March 2012. Bangladesh has submitted case against India to the Memorial Tribunal that formed under the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982 Annex vii.
In a recent development on 14 March 2012, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea sustained Bangladesh’s claims to a full 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone in the Bay of Bengal, and to a substantial share of the outer continental shelf beyond 200 nauticalmiles.The ruling, by a vote of 21 to 1, brings to a conclusion the case initiated by Bangladesh against Myanmar in December 2009, to resolve a longstanding dispute in regard to the maritime boundary between the two neighbouring states in the oil-and-gas rich Bay.
“This is a great day for Bangladesh,” declared Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni, after listening to the President of the Tribunal, Jose Luis Jesus of Cape Verde, read the judgment in the Hamburg courtroom. The judgment is final and without appeal.
“All of our strategic objectives were achieved,” the Foreign Minister continued. “Bangladesh’s full access to the high seas out to 200nautical miles and beyond is now recognized and guaranteed, as are our undisputed rights to the fish in our waters and the natural resources beneath our seabed.”The Tribunal also awarded Bangladesh a full 12nautical miles territorial sea around St. Martin’s Island, overruling Myanmar’s argument that it should be cut in half.The Foreign Minister continued: “The people of Bangladesh are deeply connected to and dependent on the Bay of Bengal, both as a source of nutrition and for employment. The legal certainty afforded by this ruling will ensure that we will be able to maximize the benefit of this important resource for the people of Bangladesh while at the same time ensuring long-term sustainability.”
The Foreign Minister added that energy-starved Bangladesh’s exploration for petroleum and natural gas in the Bay of Bengal, long delayed by conflicting boundary claims, can now proceed.
Image building of Bangladesh
Prime Minister attained Award
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been awarded the South-South Award-2011 on 19th September 2011 during the 66th session of United Nations Assembly for the government’s outstanding contributions to improving the lives of women and children through Digital Bangladesh Programme. UN Economic Commission for Africa, Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and South South News jointly introduced the awards. The Award has brought international honour for the country as well as the recognition of the government’s success in the field of health, specially improving lives of women and children and counter terrorism. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s peace model presented the 66th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), has helped brighten further Bangladesh’s image as well as stirred the world leaders to rethink about the global peace and integrate the development issues with multidimensional democracy with social responsibilities. The People’s empowerment’ peace model was adopted as a resolution at the 2nd committee of the general assembly 23rdNovember2011.
Bangladesh received an UN award for its remarkable achievements in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) particularly in reducing child mortality rate. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina accepted the award on 19th September 2010 during the 65th session of UNGA in New York. The achievement of Bangladesh had made a good reaction among the international community and Wall Street Journal and BBC published and broadcasted of Prime Minister’s interview.
Contribution in UN peace keeping missions
Bangladesh has secured its place as contributor of highest number of troops to UN peace keeping missions through the Foreign Ministry’s dynamic attempt. Some 10,609 troops including 2086 police personnel are deployed in different UN peace keeping missions (30 September, 2011). Bangladesh has been congratulated for its leadership in UN Peace Building Commission and contribution in UN peace keeping missions. Bangladesh has also sent female police personnel as first time last two years in the peace keeping missions that is highest number of the world.
Membership in different UN bodies and Forum
Bangladesh’s image has increased by attaining membership in different international organizations. The incumbent government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina almost success in focusing Bangladesh as a democratic, non-communal and progressive country to the world community. Recently Bangladesh has been elected as member of about 35 upper bodies of the United Nations that made a record. At the same time it is a reflection of the international community’s trust to Bangladesh. Bangladesh elected member to the executive Board of UNDP, UNFPA, FAO, UN Women, Chairperson elect of the UNGA’s second Committee (Economic & Financial Committee of the 66th UNGA), elect member ofUN Peace-building Commission and UN-Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Besides the election for the membership of Human Rights Council, UNESCO, Committee on Status of Women, WHO, UNESCO are mentionable. Bangladesh has been elected as member of CEDAW getting highest 153 votes for 2011-2014 terms. Bangladesh took over the co-ordinatorship of WTO-LDC group in January 2011 for one year.