Update September 19, 2021

Dhaka 7-19 am, 25-October, 2021

UN to give electoral assistance to Bangladesh if requested: Mia Seppo

Online Desk

UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo on Sunday said the United Nations (UN) will provide electoral assistance to Bangladesh only if there is any request on that particular front.

“The UN doesn’t provide electoral assistance unless we’re asked to provide,” she said, adding that the whole process depends on requests for electoral assistance but the UN does not just step in on its own.

UNRC Mia said the UN stands ready to support under the framework of cooperation if there is any request forthcoming.

The UN Resident Coordinator was responding to questions at “DCAB Talk” organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) at the Foreign Service Academy.

DCAB President Pantho Rahaman and its General Secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke at the “DCAB Talk” where UNRC Mia shared UN views on Rohingya and Afghanistan crises, issues related to Bhasan Char, climate change, sustainable and inclusive Covid recovery, Digital Security Act (DSA), gender issues and cooperation framework.

The UNRC said there are some areas where the UN is “concerned” about and some of them applicable for many countries.

“We’re concerned about increasing violence against women, we’re concerned about growing inequalities – it’s a global concern. We’re also concerned about signs of shrinking civic space. Again it’s a global concern,” Mia said, adding that they hope that the review of the DSA will indeed improve that situation in Bangladesh.

Globally at the moment, she said, there is a big concern around shrinking civic space and that applies to so many countries.

“I don’t think for any country that aspires to be a democracy that helps it. We obviously encourage protecting the civic space,” Mia said, mentioning that it should be part of all the efforts to make sure Covid recovery is inclusive.

She said they have to recognise that protecting human rights is very much “collective responsibility” and the media have a responsibility in making sure that stories do not stigmatize the victims but spot issues of concern by protecting the privacy of the victims.

Mia said a review of the DSA is one of the UPR (Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations that actually was supported by Bangladesh making sure that the law is compliant with the international human rights standard.

She mentioned that they have had some good discussions with the Law Minister in particular and the UN stands ready to help on that front to avoid its misuse.

The UN official said Covid-19 pandemic has amplified the challenges of inequality, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and gender disparity.

As Bangladesh graduated from the LDC status, it will have opportunities but also face the challenges of inequality, which needs to be addressed very effectively, Mia said.

She said there is no development without peace and no peace without development; and sustaining peace is a continuous process.

Mia said national and social cohesion must be sensitively managed to strengthen relationships of trust among the Bangladeshis.

She said the media’s action and reporting can engender either social cohesion or mistrust and divisions among communities and people. “Media reports can give a rise to resentment, suspicion and conspiracy theories.”

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