Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya on Wednesday said the outstanding development cooperation reforms have to respond to dramatic shifts in global landscape.
He said this while delivering the keynote paper titled “Towards a New Conversation on Development Effectiveness” at the opening session of the 2019 Busan Global Partnership Forum: Revitalizing the Global Partnership for the attainment of the SDGs in Seoul, South Korea.
Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea Taeho Lee welcomed the participants at the opening session of the Forum.
Co-chairs of the Forum Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal and Vice Prime Minister of Democratic Republic of Congo Elysee Munembwe Tamukumwe delivered the introductory remarks at the session, according to CPD.
Debapriya, a member of the United Nations Committee for Development Policy (UN-CDP), emphasised the need to embed the recipient countries' perspectives in the reform agenda by taking into account ground realities regarding the demand for and use of foreign development finance.
This would entail, he pointed out, launching a new global conversation, based on real-time knowledge and evidence, with a balanced participation of the Southern and Northern providers as well as new actors of development cooperation including the private sector and philanthropy.
It has also become important, Debapriya underscored, to relate the concerns for development effectiveness to delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The 2019 Busan Global Partnership Forum was jointly organised by the UNDP-OECD managed Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea.
The Busan Forum, launched in 2011, has emerged as an influential venue that brings together high level policy-makers and practitioners from all over the world to share experiences with a renewed sense of commitment to the principles for effective development cooperation which are shared ownership, focus on results, partnership, transparency and mutual accountability.
The United States on Wednesday said they have no issue with Bangladesh in improving relations with other countries mentioning that its Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) is not a direct counter to China or China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
“We expect Bangladesh will have good relations with its neighbours and we’ve no issue with Bangladesh in improving relations with other countries,” said US Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall G. Schriver.
The senior US defence official, while talking to a small group of journalists at a city hotel before wrapping up his brief visit, said the IPS is a free, open and inclusive vision and they seek “stronger” defence relationship and closer partnership with Bangladesh.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen recently said Bangladesh will effectively remain engaged in any future ‘Indo-Pacific Alliance’ for its economic aspects.
US Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall G. Schriver
“We’re sure we’ll be effectively engaged in any future Indo-Pacific Alliance if it’s found to be purely economic in nature,” he said adding that Bangladesh has already joined China’s BRI.
Schriver said it happens to be the case that the BRI being driven by Chinese interest does have a particular impact on many countries that “concerns” them.
He said the IPS is their “whole-of-government” approach to protect and advance shared principles in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific, in which sovereign and independent nations like Bangladesh can prosper in freedom and peace.
“The IPS empowers Bangladesh and every other country in the region to create their own destiny, and to not merely accept a destiny dictated to them by any other nation,” said the senior US official.
Schriver said some have characterised the IPS as a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative or an anti-China narrative. “Let me be very clear - IPS is an affirmative and inclusive strategy that seeks to preserve the rules-based international order for the security, prosperity, and stability of all countries in the region. China included.”
He said they believe the IPS helps ensure larger countries obey the rules just as smaller countries do.
“It encourages countries to recognise their own leverage in negotiating deals that protect their sovereignty and increase economic development – and for Bangladesh, support your goal of middle-income country status by 2021.”
Schriver said the government of Bangladesh should view the Indo-Pacific Strategy as an open opportunity to advance many of Bangladesh’s national and international objectives.
He said many of those initiatives related to BRI, they see, lead to erosion of those (IPS) principles. “Otherwise, they’re not direct counter.”
“When I talked about alignments, I think general proposition of supporting sovereignty, strong prosperous state, stable secure Bangladesh, including into the maritime domain, confidence of having awareness and ability to respond and protect the interests in those areas,” he said.
In general, Schriver said, Bangladesh being supporter of international law, international norms, he found that is evident in how well Bangladesh is represented in the international forums and it is doing so much in international peacekeeping.
“So, I think, there’re a lot of alignments. I said our strategy is inclusive, not that someone looks up and signs up and be an ally,” he added.
He said countries obviously make sovereign choices and have their own views on things. “But on the core issues, I think we do alignments and we want to seek to operationalise our relationship in ways that are supportive of the those shared values and goals.”
During his meetings with top government and military officials, Schriver talked about the IPS that has several pillars, including economic, good governance and security.
Being part of the department of defence, he focused mostly on the security pillar of the IPS and explained their vision which is an inclusive one.
The IPS supports free, fair, and reciprocal trade, open investment environments, good governance, and freedom of the seas are goals shared by all who wish to prosper in a free and open future.
During his discussions here, the senior US official said he was able to see lots of alignments in Bangladesh’s views and their views.
The US side discussed a number of initiatives to strengthen defence partnership and cooperation, including the proposed two “foundational defence” agreements -- General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA).
Responding to a question on GSOMIA and ACSA, Schriver said they want to do these in a correct way in terms of making sure that they have mutual confidence and both sides see benefits. “We’re interested in making sure it’s done correctly and properly.”
He said the “sense of urgency” relates to the fact that they want to do more and want to advance the defense relationship with further cooperation. “So, our urgency just comes from a desire to move this relationship forward and these are important steps.”
Schriver termed these two proposed agreements foundational and enabling agreements saying it will help open opportunity for more cooperation, information sharing and closer cooperation.
He said they also discussed priority areas -- counterterrorism, maritime security and internal challenges to Rohingya situation to understand how the two countries can be good partner and support Bangladesh address its challenges.
Schriver appreciated Bangladesh’s contribution to peacekeeping operations with tremendous record. “It’s very impressive contribution.”
On Rohingya issue, the US defence official laid emphasis on “durable solution” to Rohingya crisis with “conditions appropriate and conducive” for peaceful return of Rohingyas that needs to be sustained.
“We use the means that are available to us,” he said adding that they will also continue to support Bangladesh which has provided temporary shelter to over 1.1 million Rohingyas.
The US senior official said they have a very limited defence engagement or military-to-military engagement with Myanmar.
Bangladesh Army chief General Aziz Ahmed on Wednesday met Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen ahead of his visit to Myanmar.
The Army chief briefly talked to reporters after the meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying they will discuss ways to enhance military-to-military cooperation and engagement in addition to issues relating to improving the existing ties between the two countries.
In November last, Foreign Minister Dr Momen said the Army chief’s visit to Myanmar will be good for Bangladesh and “open another line of negotiation” between the two countries over Rohingya repatriation.
“We want to resolve it (Rohingya crisis) through discussions. I think it (the visit) will go in favour of us. It'll be good for us," he told journalists at State guesthouse Padma recently.
Dr Momen said Myanmar is not Bangladesh’s enemy but a friend, and their army in Myanmar plays a very significant role.
International Organization for Migration (IOM) has inaugurated a shelter improvement and vocational programme in a remote fishing village in Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar.
Under the programme, a small community, located alongside the Naf River and extremely vulnerable to flooding, cyclones and extreme weather, has received shelter upgrades and business skills training.
The programme follows a fishing ban that placed many members of the predominantly Hindu village out of work, according to a press release .
Teknaf Upazilla Nirbahi Officer Muhammad Saiful Islam was present at the ceremony held on Tuesday afternoon and welcomed the IOM initiative.
“The government is committed to helping the local fishing community along with its partners in the humanitarian community. We welcome this positive cooperation that is benefitting local Bangladeshis,” he said.
IOM Deputy Chief of Mission Manuel Pereira said, “This is part of our growing commitment to the Bangladeshi host community. It’s a commitment that has spanned over 20 years and is growing as IOM increases its projects in and around Cox’s Bazar. Over next year IOM will continue to support this and other efforts with our partners.”
After the ceremony, the chief guest handed over the keys to the beneficiaries and visited the shelters, along with IOM and partner organizations high officials.
The support programme includes:
Shelter upgrades to reduce risks from cyclones, flooding and other extreme weather. A total of 29 shelters were upgraded and handed over to the community. Four more are under construction and another will be constructed.
Bamboo weaving skills development for about 20 villagers. Beneficiaries are taught to weave bamboo mats that are used for shelter walls and roofing.
Training staff and volunteers in risk-informed shelter upgrade and maintenance for cyclones and other severe weather.
Bangladesh and the Philippines on Tuesday agreed to work together on climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and protection of the marine environment.
The two countries also discussed cultural cooperation, people-to-people contact, cooperation on defence and security issues, maritime security, healthcare, attaining the SDGs and supporting each other’s candidature in multilateral institutions.
The issues were discussed at the second Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between Bangladesh and the Philippines held at State guesthouse Meghna in the city.
Secretary (Asia and Pacific) Masud Bin Momen led Bangladesh side while Assistant Secretary (Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs) Meynardo LB. Montealegre led the Philippines time at the meeting.
Later in the day, leader of the Filipino delegation Ambassador Meynardo Montealegre met State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said an official release.
The two sides at the FOC exchanged counter drafts to sign MoUs on agriculture cooperation, nursing capacity building and employment, migrant workers and cooperation between the Presidential Communication Operations Office of the Philippines and its Bangladesh counterpart.
The two sides also exchanged an MoU previously signed between Chattogram and Cebu Chambers of Commerce and Industries.
The Bangladesh side suggested that the Philippines could procure quality rice, potato, fresh fruits, processed foods and generic drugs from Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh side was informed that these products have to fulfill multiple standards in order to enter the Filipino market.
Bangladesh urged the Philippines to facilitate market access in these products. Bangladesh also sought Philippines’ investment in the Special Economic Zones and hi-tech parks.
Expressing satisfaction at the close bilateral relations between the two countries, the two sides decided to exchange VVIP-level visits in the near future.