United Nations

Will the Latest Ceasefire Hold in Sudan?

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Fighting continued in Sudan hours before a ceasefire agreement was to take effect between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on Monday, May 22. The warring parties had signed the agreement on May 20. Around 850 civilians have died since fighting broke out on April 15.

Concerns remain about whether the ceasefire will hold as earlier agreements were violated. This is the first time the warring parties have signed a written agreement with a mechanism for monitoring. A Monitoring and Coordination Committee is to be established, comprising three representatives each from the SAF and RSF, and three each from the US and Saudi Arabia, which have been jointly facilitating the negotiations in Jeddah.

While welcoming the agreement, spokesperson of the Sudanese Communist Party Fathi Elfadl told Peoples Dispatch that this committee is insufficient to monitor and ensure compliance. “It does not include a single representative of the civilians who have been suffering the most,” he said. 

The warring parties have committed to ensuring the safety of humanitarian workers and allowing humanitarian assistance delivery. Elfadl said that the humanitarian corridors should not be controlled by the SAF or RSF but by organizations like the doctors’ union and the Sudanese Red Crescent. He added that neighborhood resistance committees, which have been at the forefront of mass protests and relief work, should receive and distribute the aid.

Around 24.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the Revised Humanitarian Response Plan for Sudan prepared by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

UN Economist Highlights Global Economic Challenges, Calls for International Unity

A leading UN economist has highlighted key global macroeconomic developments and emphasized the need for stronger international cooperation to address mounting economic challenges.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Tuesday immediately after the launch of the Mid-year Update to the UN’s World Economic Situation and Prospects report, Hamid Rashid, chief of the Global Economic Monitoring Branch at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and lead author of the report, cautioned about the possibility of “slower long-term growth” and indicated that a return to pre-pandemic growth rates remain unlikely both in developed and developing economies.

He warned of a potential prolonged period of “subpar growth,” underscoring the importance of understanding this new economic reality.

The interview delved into the intensified fiscal and monetary policy challenges in the current economic scenario. Rashid described the “trilemma” faced by policymakers in developed economies, who strive to stimulate economic growth, tame inflation, and maintain financial stability.

He acknowledged the difficulty of achieving all three goals simultaneously and explained that policymakers in developing countries, such as China and others, “have more fiscal and monetary space to navigate these challenges.”

Rashid highlighted the risk faced by the largest economies, as they need to maintain a tight monetary stance and tighten fiscal positions, which limit their options for expansionary measures for stimulating economic growth. This presents “a unique challenge” for policymakers in advanced economies.

Discussing the balance between taming inflation, ensuring financial stability, and fostering economic growth and employment while managing international spillover effects, Rashid acknowledged the complexity of the task.

The economist emphasized that policymakers in advanced economies “face challenging trade-offs,” where it may be hard to maintain financial stability while raising interest rates further to tame inflation. Maintaining inflation at the target level will require not only even higher interest rates but also “significant spending cuts,” which will dampen economic growth and have long-term implications.

Rashid further explained the international spillover effects of monetary tightening in the United States, which results in capital outflows from the developing countries and depreciation of their currencies. This, in turn, affects developing countries’ interest rates, cost of capital and investment, “adding an additional layer of complexity to the global economic challenges.”

Shifting the conversation to notable trends and shifts in global economic outlook since the previous report, Rashid highlighted “early signs of financial instability risks,” particularly in the U.S. banking sector. While these risks have been sporadic and not yet been widespread, they “expose vulnerabilities” due to rapid interest rate increases, which impact long-term bond prices and the balance sheets of the banks holding U.S. government bonds.

This “poses significant financial stability risks” that require careful attention, he added.

Regarding central banks’ response to inflation and monetary policy tightening, Rashid emphasized their focus on maintaining low inflation as the primary goal. However, achieving the 2 percent inflation target set by the U.S. Federal Reserve may “come at a high cost.” This includes keeping interest rates high, affecting credit channels and household spending, and potentially leading to lower economic growth. While the possibility of a recession remains uncertain, positive outcomes cannot be ruled out either.

Rashid expressed his key concern for the world economy, highlighting that many developing “countries on the verge of default,” struggling to provide fiscal support to economic growth due to high debt burdens.

He stressed the importance of international cooperation and restructuring debt “to provide more fiscal space for developing countries.”

Rashid called for common understanding and increased international cooperation, particularly with private creditors, to ensure a more equitable and sustainable solution. This would enable developing countries to have the necessary resources to support economic activities and “mitigate the risk of a significant global economic downturn.”

When asked about the projected slowdown in global growth being less severe than previously anticipated, Rashid acknowledged the resilience of household spending and he also cautioned about the ongoing monetary tightening measures. These measures might lead to significant weakening in household spending, resulting in a slight downward adjustment of growth forecasts for 2024.

However, he reassured that the expected recession or slowdown would likely be “shallower and of shorter duration.”

Highlighting the positive developments in the global economic situation since the report’s launch in January, Rashid emphasized an upward revision in growth forecasts.

Initially projected at 1.9 percent, the global economy is now expected to reach 2.3 percent. This positive adjustment is attributed to “the resilience of household spending” in developed economies like the United States and Europe, which account for a significant portion of economic activity.

Additionally, the recovery and reopening of China’s economy have also contributed to the more optimistic growth outlook, Rashid said.

Genuine multilateralism and diplomacy vs the “rules-based order”

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As is traditional, the month of May in Russia is marked by the broad celebrations commemorating the anniversary of the Great Victory. The defeat of Nazi Germany – an achievement to which our country made a decisive contribution, with the support from our Allies – paved the way for the post-war international order, with the UN Charter as its legal framework. The United Nations Organisation, an embodiment of true multilateralism, took on a central coordinating role in global politics.

For almost 80 years since its inception, the UN has carried out the most important mission entrusted to it by its founders. The shared understanding among the five permanent members of the Security Council regarding the supremacy of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter has guaranteed global security for decades, thus creating the necessary conditions for truly multilateral cooperation, which are regulated by universally recognised norms of international law.

Now the UN-centric system is undergoing a deep crisis, the root cause of which was brought on by the decision of certain UN members to replace international law and the UN Charter with some “rules-based international order”. These mysterious “rules” have never been the subject of transparent international consultations, nor have they been laid out for everybody’s attention. It is obvious that they are being made up on the move and used to counteract the natural processes of the formation and strengthening of new independent centres of development, which are an actual manifestation of multilateralism.

Moreover, we are seeing attempts to contain the new world centres by means of illegitimate unilateral measures, such as blocking access to modern technologies and financial services, forcing out of supply chains, confiscating property, destroying competitors’ critical infrastructure, and manipulating universally agreed norms and procedures. These actions have led to the fragmentation of global trade and the collapse of market mechanisms. They have paralysed the WTO and finally transformed the IMF, without a hint of disguise, into a tool for achieving the goals of the United States and its allies, including military goals. In a desperate attempt to assert its dominance by punishing anyone who disobeys, the United States tried to derail globalisation – a process that had been extolled as the highest virtue for humanity, serving the multilateral global economic system for years.

Washington and other Western capitals subordinate to the US are applying their “rules” whenever they need to justify their illegitimate steps against countries that draft their policies in accordance with international law and refuse to service the selfish interests of the “golden billion.” They blacklist any dissenters, deeming whoever is not with them as acting against them.

Our Western colleagues have long since become uncomfortable with holding talks in universal formats, such as the UN. To provide an ideological basis for their policy of undermining multilateralism, the theme of united “democracies” countering “autocracies” has been put into circulation. In addition to “summits for democracy”, the members of which are designated by the self-proclaimed hegemon, other “clubs of the chosen ones” are being created that operate in circumvention of the UN.

Summits for Democracy, the Alliance for Multilateralism, the Global Partnership for Artificial Intelligence, the Global Media Freedom Coalition and the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace – these and other non-inclusive projects have been designed to undermine talks held under the auspices of the UN on relevant issues, and to impose non-consensual concepts and decisions that benefit the collective West.  First, they agree on something secretly as a small group and then present their agreements as “the position of the international community.” Let’s face it: no one entrusted the Western minority to speak on behalf of all humankind. They must behave decently and respect all international community members without exception.

By imposing a “rules-based order,” its masterminds haughtily reject the key principle underlying the UN Charter, which is the sovereign equality of states. The “proud” statement by the head of the EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, that Europe is a “garden” and the rest of the world is a “jungle” personifies their worldview of being exceptional. I will also quote the NATO-EU Joint Statement of January 10, 2023 which states: “The united West will use all the economic, financial, political, and military tools available to NATO and the EU to ensure the interests of our one billion.”

The collective West has set out to reshape the processes of multilateralism at the regional level to suit its needs. Recently, the United States called for reviving the Monroe Doctrine and wanted Latin American countries to scale back their ties with the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. However, this faced pushback from the countries of this region, which instead resolved to strengthen their own multilateral structures, primarily the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), while upholding their legitimate right to establish themselves as a pillar of the multipolar world. Russia fully supports just aspirations of this kind.

The United States and its allies have deployed significant forces to undermine multilateralism in the Asia-Pacific Region where an ASEAN-centred, successful, and open economic and security cooperation system has been taking shape for decades. This system helped them develop consensus approaches that suited the 10 ASEAN members and their dialogue partners, including Russia, China, the United States, India, Japan, Australia, and the Republic of Korea, thus ensuring genuine inclusive multilateralism. Washington then advanced its Indo-Pacific Strategy in an effort to break up this established architecture.

At last year’s summit in Madrid, NATO, which never tires of convincing everyone of its “love of peace” and the exclusively defensive nature of its defence programmes, put out a statement about its global responsibility and indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic region, as well as in the so-called Indo-Pacific region. This means NATO’s boundaries as a defensive organisation are being moved towards the western coastal regions of the Pacific. This bloc-oriented policy, which is eroding ASEAN-centred multilateralism, manifests itself in the creation of the AUKUS military alliance, with Tokyo, Seoul, and several ASEAN countries being drawn into it. The United States is leading the effort to develop mechanisms to interfere in maritime security in a move to ensure the unilateral interests of the West in the South China Sea region. Josep Borrell, whom I referred to earlier, promised to send EU naval forces to that region. No one is hiding the fact that this Indo-Pacific strategy seeks to contain China and to isolate Russia. This is how our Western colleagues interpret the concept of “effective multilateralism” in the Asia-Pacific Region.

As soon as the Warsaw Treaty Organisation was dissolved and the Soviet Union vanished from the political arena, many entertained the hope that the principle of genuine multilateralism, void of dividing lines across the Euro-Atlantic area, could be brought to life. However, instead of tapping the OSCE’s potential on an equal, collective basis, Western countries not only preserved NATO but, despite their firm pledges to the contrary, also pursued a brazen policy of bringing neighbouring areas under their control, including those that have always been and will be of vital interest to Russia. As then US Secretary of State James Baker said while talking to President George H.W. Bush: the OSCE is the main threat to NATO. One is left with the impression that today both the UN and the provisions of the UN Charter pose a threat to Washington’s global ambitions.

Russia patiently tried to reach mutually-beneficial multilateral agreements based on the principle of indivisible security, which was solemnly declared at the highest level, that is, in the documents of OSCE summits in 1999 and 2010. They are formulated in the clearest possible terms – openly and unambiguously – that no nation shall strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others and that no country, or group of countries, or organisation shall be vested with the pre-eminent responsibility of maintaining peace in an OSCE region, or treat any part of an OSCE region as its sphere of influence.

NATO cared little about the commitments that were assumed by the presidents and prime ministers of its member countries and started to act precisely in contradiction with its promises by announcing its “right” to behave in any matter it saw fit. The most glaring example of this was the illegitimate bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, including with depleted uranium shells, which later led to a surge of patients with oncological conditions, both among Serbs and NATO service members. Joe Biden was a senator at the time and went on record as saying, with some pride, that he had personally insisted on bombing Belgrade and destroying all bridges across the Drina River. Today, US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill has used mass media to call on the Serbs to turn the page and suppress their pain.

As for “suppressing their pain”, the United States has vast experience under its belt. Japan has long since been ashamedly reticent about who in fact bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  School textbooks make no mention of it. Speaking at a recent G7 meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken demonstratively grieved over the suffering of the victims of those bombings, however, he kept silent about who was behind them.

Such are the “rules”. And nobody is allowed to argue with them.

Since World War II, Washington has pulled off dozens of reckless criminal military operations without even trying to secure multilateral legitimacy. Why bother when your “rules” are unbeknownst to everyone.

The disgraceful invasion of Iraq by the US-led coalition in 2003 was carried out in violation of the UN Charter, just like the aggression against Libya in 2011. Both led to the destruction of each country’s statehood, hundreds of thousands of lost lives, and rampant terrorism.

The US’s intervention in the domestic affairs of post-Soviet countries is nothing short of a flagrant violation of the UN Charter. “Colour revolutions” were concocted in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, and a bloody coup was staged in Kiev in February 2014. Attempts to seize power by force in Belarus in 2020 were part and parcel of this approach.

The Anglo-Saxons at the helm of the West not only justify these lawless adventures, but also parade them as a policy for “promoting democracy,” while also doing so according to their own set of rules, such as how they recognised Kosovo’s independence without a referendum, but still refused to recognise Crimea’s independence, even though a referendum there was in fact held.  According to British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, the Falklands/Malvinas are not an issue because a referendum was held there. That’s amusing.

In order to avoid double standards, we call on everyone to follow the consensus agreements that were reached as part of the 1970 UN Declaration on Principles of International Law, which remains in force today. It clearly declares the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states that conduct “themselves in compliance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples as described above and thus possessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to the territory.” Any unbiased observer can clearly see that the Nazi Kiev regime can in no way be considered a government representing the residents of the territories who refused to accept the results of the bloody February 2014 coup, against whom the putschists unleashed their war. It is just as clear that Pristina cannot claim to represent the interests of the Kosovo Serbs, to whom the EU promised autonomy, in the same manner as Berlin and Paris promised a special status for Donbass. We are well aware of how these promises played out in the end.

In his message to the second Summit for Democracy on March 29, 2023, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the following: “Democracy flows from the United Nations Charter. Its opening invocation of ‘We, the Peoples’ reflects the fundamental source of legitimate authority: the consent of the governed.” I will emphasise the word “consent” once again.

Multilateral efforts were made to stop the outbreak of war in the east of Ukraine as a result of the government coup. These efforts towards peaceful settlement were embodied in UN Security Council Resolution 2202 that unanimously approved the Minsk agreements. Kiev and its Western handlers trampled all over these agreements. They even cynically admitted with a tinge of pride that they had never planned to fulfil them, but rather merely wanted to gain time to flood Ukraine with weapons to use against Russia. In doing so, they publicly announced the violation of a multilateral commitment by UN members as per the UN Charter, which requires all member countries to comply with Security Council resolutions.

Our consistent efforts to prevent this confrontation, including proposals made by President Vladimir Putin in December 2021 to reach agreement on multilateral mutual security guarantees, were haughtily rejected. We were told that nobody can prevent NATO from “embracing” Ukraine.

In the years following the coup, and despite our strong demands, nobody from among Kiev’s Western overseers reined in Petr Poroshenko, Vladimir Zelensky, or Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada when the Russian language, education, media and, in general, Russian cultural and religious traditions were being consistently destroyed by legislation. This was done in direct violation of the Constitution of Ukraine and universal conventions on the rights of ethnic minorities. In parallel, the Kiev regime was introducing the theory and practice of Nazism in everyday life and adopting related laws. The Kiev regime shamelessly staged flashy torchlight processions under the banners of SS divisions in the centre of the capital and other cities. The West kept silent and rubbed its hands with satisfaction. These developments fully fit into the US plans to put to use Kiev’s openly racist regime, which Washington had created in the hope of weakening Russia across the board. It was part of the US’s strategic course towards removing its rivals and undermining any scenario that implied the assertion of fair multilateralism in global affairs.

Everyone is aware of it, even though not everyone is talking about it openly: the real issue is not about Ukraine, but rather about the future of international relations. Will they be forged on a sustainable consensus, one based on the balance of interests? Or will they be reduced to an aggressive and explosive advancement of hegemony? The Ukraine issue cannot be considered outside its geopolitical context. To reiterate, multilateralism implies respect for the UN Charter and all of its interconnected principles. Russia has clearly elaborated the goals of its special military operation, which are to remove threats to its security that have been instigated by NATO for a number of years and right on Russia’s borders, and to protect the people who were stripped of their rights set forth in multilateral conventions. Russia wants to protect them from Kiev’s public and outright threats to annihilate and banish them from the land where their ancestors had lived for centuries. We have been forthright about what and for whom we are fighting.

Amid the US- and EU-fuelled hysteria, I am tempted to ask them in retort: What did Washington and NATO do in Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya? Were there any threats to their security, culture, religion, or languages? What multilateral regulations were they guided by when they declared Kosovo’s independence in violation of OCSE principles or when they were destroying stable and economically wealthy Iraq and Libya, countries located 10,000 miles away from US coasts?

Western countries’ brazen attempts to bring the Secretariats of the UN and other international organisations under their control are a threat to the multilateral system. The West has always enjoyed a quantitative advantage in terms of personnel, but until recently the Secretariat tried to remain neutral. Today, this imbalance has become chronic while Secretariat employees increasingly allow themselves politically-driven behaviour that is unbecoming of international office holders. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres must ensure that his staff meets impartiality standards in keeping with Article 100 of the UN Charter. We also call on the Secretariat’s senior officials to be guided by the need to help member countries find ways to reach consensus and a balance of interests, rather than playing into the hands of neoliberal concepts. Otherwise, instead of a multilateral agenda, we will see a widening gap between the “golden billion” countries and the Global Majority.

Speaking of multilateralism, we cannot limit ourselves to the international context. By the same token, we cannot ignore the international context when we speak about democracy. There should be no double standards. Multilateralism and democracy should enjoy respect both within the member countries and in their relations with one another. Everyone is aware that while imposing its understanding of democracy on other nations, the West opposes the democratisation of international relations based on respect for the sovereign equality of states. Today, along with its efforts to promote its “rules” in the international arena, the West is also putting a choke hold on multilateralism and democracy at home as it uses increasingly repressive tools to crack down on dissent, much the same way as the criminal Kiev regime is doing with the support of its teachers – the United States and its allies.

Just like in the Cold War years, humanity has approached a once-dangerous, and perhaps an even more dangerous line in the sand. The situation is further aggravated by loss of faith in multilateralism, all the while the financial and economic aggression of the West is destroying the benefits of globalisation and Washington and its allies drop diplomacy and demand that things be sorted out “on the battlefield”. All of this is taking place within the walls of the UN, a body that was created to prevent the horrors of war. The voices of responsible and sensible forces, and calls to show political wisdom and revive the culture of dialogue, are drowned out by those who set out to undermine the fundamental principles of communication between countries. We must all return to our roots and comply with the UN Charter’s purposes and principles in all their diversity and interconnectedness.

At this juncture, genuine multilateralism requires that the UN adapt to objective developments in the process of forming a multipolar architecture of international relations. It is imperative to expedite Security Council reform by expanding the representation of countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The inordinate over-representation of the West in the UN’s main body undermines the principle of multilateralism.

Venezuela spearheaded the creation of the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations. We call on all countries that respect the Charter to join. It is also important to use the constructive potential provided by BRICS and the SCO. The EAEU, the CIS, and the CSTO are all willing to contribute. We stand for using the potential of the regional associations of the Global South. The G20 can also be instrumental in maintaining multilateralism if its Western participants stop distracting their colleagues from priority items on its agenda in the hope of downplaying their responsibility for the pile-up of crises in the global economy.

It is our common duty to preserve the United Nations as the hard-won epitome of multilateralism and coordination of international politics. The key to success lies in working together, renouncing claims on exceptionalism and – I reiterate – showing respect for the sovereign equality of states. This is what we all signed up for when we ratified the UN Charter.

In 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested convening a summit of the UN Security Council permanent members. The leaders of China and France supported this initiative, but, unfortunately, it has not been brought to fruition. This issue is directly related to multilateralism – not because the five powers have certain privileges over the rest, but precisely because of their special responsibility under the UN Charter to preserve international peace and security. This is exactly what the imperatives of the UN-centric system, which is crumbling before our eyes as a result of the actions of the West, call for.

Concern about this situation can be increasingly heard in multiple initiatives and ideas from the Global South countries, ranging from East and Southeast Asia, the Arab and the Muslim world in its entirety, all the way to Africa and Latin America. We appreciate their sincere desire to ensure the settlement of current problems through honest collective work aimed at agreeing on a balance of interests based on the sovereign equality of states and indivisible security. We will continue to forge productive cooperation with them in the name of improving the international situation, while advancing communication between countries based on the principles of true multilateralism, international law, truth, and justice.

UN Finally Commends Bangladesh’s CHT Peace Accord Implementation

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The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has acknowledged the progress made in implementing the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord, in its report on its 22nd session, held in New York from April 17 to 28. The Bangladesh delegation spoke about the achievements of the government in the implementation of the agreement during various meetings of the forum.

CHT has a history of a bloody conflict between its Bengali settlers and indigenous communities. After the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, the state deployed military force to maintain law and order in CHT which led to further escalation of conflicts between law enforcers and indigenous communities who have been living there since time immemorial.

However, to introduce peace and end bloody conflicts in the three hill districts, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed the CHT Peace Accord in 1997. As a part of the accord, the people of CHT witnessed the withdrawal of 250 army camps from the region. Also, some 1,800 rebels surrendered their arms to her on February 10 in 1998 at Khagrachhari Stadium. It needs no emphasizing that the insurgents did it as the government of Sheikh Hasina could earn their confidence in the government. It was indeed a glaring example of resolving disputes peacefully. Such an instance of arms surrender is rare in human history.

Some 48 out of the total 72 clauses of the CHT Peace Treaty have already been implemented while 15 others partially implemented and the remaining nine clauses are under implementation process.

Before the peace accord the ownership of the land in the CHT were determined by the British-era laws according to which people of indigenous communities were not able get land ownership. 

But after the accord, people of CHT enjoy the ownership of the land just as the people of other regions in the country do.

Earlier, life in the hilly region was difficult due to lack of economic opportunities in absence of development activities. But the incumbent government over the years has changed the scenario. Now the people of the hill districts, especially in remote areas, are reaping the benefits of improved infrastructure as many locals are now running hotels and restaurant businesses in their areas. Over the last ten years, the people of CHT have gone through a lot of development initiatives taken by the government. Road and transportation scene of CHT has drastically changed and consequently lifestyle of hill people has improved in the last decade or so.

Some 48 out of the total 72 clauses of the CHT Peace Treaty have already been implemented while 15 others partially implemented and the remaining nine clauses are under implementation process. 

We hope that Sheikh Hasina’s government will do everything to fully implement all the sections of the peace accord as her government was the first to take noble initiatives for the welfare of the indigenous communities.

To put an end to the brutal co­nfrontations between the gov­ernment troops and the tribes and hills­men of the Chi­ttagong Hill Tracts, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord was signed 25 years ago. Following the agreement, it was thought that if it were put into practice, the economy would pick up. This hope has come true over the past 25 years. The locals’ way of life has changed. The government’s numerous development initiatives have improved the economic situation for millions of people in the region.

Before the deal, visitors were hesitant to visit the hilly areas. As the security situation has improved, tourists are now visiting the mountains without hesitation. Trade and commerce used to move slowly because of the inadequate communication infrastructure, but now it moves much more quickly. The wheel of everyday existence had been closed for two decades prior to then. In the modern regional and international arena, the successful political resolution of the CHT conflict is considered a remarkable achievement for our country. 

The 1997 Bangladesh government made an effort to create enduring peace in the hill areas. After that, in 1997, there was an armistice that ultimately came to be known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts Agreement or the Peace Accord. The majority of the agreement’s provisions, according to the administration, have allegedly been carried out. Additionally, the unrealized clauses will be promptly implemented, therefore a favorable climate is required.

On the other side, a number of schools and colleges, including Rangamati University of Science and Technology and Rangamati Medical College, have been established in the 20 years after the peace deal. The field of communication has seen advancement. 

The majority of the jhum crops would have been lost along the route in the past, but since road connectivity has improved there, hill farmers now can simply sell their jhum crops at the market.

The lumber industry has seen the largest improvement since the accord. Since the deal, the region’s timber trade has expanded. Despite not previously purchasing hillside tree gardens, traders are now doing so. The gardeners reap financial rewards.

All of the Chittagong Hill Tracts districts, including Rangamati, have experienced general economic development as a result of improvements in every area, including education, communication, and security. A native of Rangamati named Laxmidhan Chakma remarked, “Government jobs used to seem like golden deer to us.” The educated and deserving children of the Hill Tracts are now, however, easily obtaining government jobs as a result of the Hill Tracts Peace Accord. Without the agreement, it was never feasible.

The wheel of the mountain economy continued to turn after the peace deal notwithstanding a few episodes focusing on rivalry and hegemony among the regional parties.

Due to many actions the government took after the peace deal, economic prosperity has been attained in a similar manner to how people’s living standards have increased. Analyzing the periods prior to and following the peace accord can help us comprehend this.

The Hill People were allowed to trade easily following the Hill Tracts Peace Accord. The blockage of some regional groups frightened the general population. However, the residents of the hills are now exhaling in relief as a result of the ceasefire deal. With the administration’s unparalleled collaboration, the locals operate independently. Before the Hill Accords, trade and business in the hill country were at a standstill. The typical person was unable to move freely. But that time is passed. People can conduct business freely today. Trade and commerce have benefited from the expansion in communication. The police administration is set up so that everyone in this place can carry out their responsibilities on their own.

Ten additional development projects have been started in the meantime to further develop the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The Planning Commission has received a proposal from the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts for inclusion in the Green Leaf in the upcoming 2021–22 Fiscal Year’s Annual Development Program (ADP). The allocation has been requested concurrently for 19 active projects.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board’s Rural Road Development Project in Rangamati Hill District will last till 2021–2024. In the Rangamati Hill District, the construction period for rural infrastructure has been set at 2024.

The improvement of the water system in Bandarban Municipality and Lama Municipality of Bandarban Hill District is planned to include the construction of a master drain by 2023. Additionally, a deadline of 2023 has been set for the development of the different rural roads built by the Board in the Bandarban Hill District.

It has been determined that construction of a bridge and connecting road from Upazila Sadar to isolated regions of the Khagrachhari district will begin in 2025 with the goal of assisting the socioeconomic development of the Chittagong Hill Tracts’ underprivileged residents. The completion date for the road project connecting Khagrachhari district’s Laxichhari Upazila Sadar and Barmachhari Bazar is 2025. Building rural road infrastructure in the Khagrachhari Hill District is being done in an effort to connect isolated villages in various Upazilas to the Upazila Sadar communication network.

Construction is underway on a rural road that would connect Ruma Upazila in the Bandarban Hill District to Roangchhari Upazila Sadar. In the isolated Chittagong Hill Tracts, a high-value spice farming initiative is being conducted.

A master drain for the development of the drainage system of the Khagrachhari district headquarters and the elimination of water blockage are also being built, along with two bridges over the Sangu river and one over the Sonakhali canal in Bandarban Hill District.

Additionally, there is an increase in cotton farming in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region and a reduction in farmer poverty, as well as development in all Upazilas, including Rangamati municipality, and power supply via the installation of solar panels in remote Chittagong Hill Tracts areas (Phase II). Construction of irrigation drains in various Upazilas of the Bandarban Hill District, irrigation drains in various Upazilas of the Khagrachhari district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and the provision of potable drinking water via GFS and deep Tube Well in all areas in rocky areas in various Upazilas of the Bandarban district are all included in this project.

Other programs to reduce poverty include growing cashew and coffee in the CHT region, as well as managing water supply and sanitation in the Khagrachari district’s marketplaces and surrounding neighborhoods. establishing and executing the network, which at the moment serves as the main access point for the residents of the three hill districts of Rangamati, Bandarban, and Khagrachari to get essential social services.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord recognized the hill people’s unique status and dignity. A regional council made up of the local government councils of the three hill districts has been established in accordance with the peace deal.

The Regional Council is organized as follows: Chairman 1, Native American Member 12, Native American Woman 2, Native (Non-Indigenous) Male 6, Non-Indigenous Member, Female 1. The accord asks for the creation of a Ministry of Tribal Affairs, headed by one tribe, to regulate operations concerning the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Their land will be returned if the tribes’ land ownership rights are established. In order to ascertain who owns the property, a land survey system will be implemented in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Every home of the tribal people is now filled with educated young people. The literacy rate of Chakmas is 96 percent on average, with at least one employee per household.

The development of tribal people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts is significantly better than that of any outlying area of Bangladesh due to the implementation of quota systems in all jobs, including BCS, priority systems, and quotas for tribal students in all medical schools and universities as well as scholarships in Europe, America, and Australia.

The current prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, is always working to meet the expectations of the residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. In the highland areas, the current administration has not implemented any anti-people, anti-democracy measures. The Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board’s chairperson was chosen when the Awami League administration took office.

The Minority Cultural Institutions Bill 2010 and the creation of the Land Commission have been approved by the National Assembly. In the interim, everyone has come to terms with the idea that tribes, minorities, ethnic groups, and communities can safeguard the nation’s integrity. We believe that in order for there to be development, Sheikh Hasina’s efforts to bring about peace must be supported.

The successful execution of numerous ongoing socio-economic development initiatives provides compelling evidence of the need for the Hill Tracts Peace Agreement to be put into effect. The conviction to uphold the rights of all citizens as stated in the peace agreement must be put into action, but the hill-Bengalis must work together to do so.

Yemen’s warring factions conclude large-scale prisoner swap

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In a significant step toward resolving the protracted conflict in Yemen, the country’s warring factions successfully completed a massive exchange of prisoners on Sunday, with a total of 887 detainees swapped over three consecutive days.

Yahya Kazman, chief of the negotiation committee from the internationally-recognized Yemeni government, said the third and final batch of the swap took place successfully on Sunday, with the arrival of three simultaneous Red Cross flights at the airport of Sanaa and the airport of Tadween in Marib, central Yemen.

Over the past three days, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations have facilitated the transportation of hundreds of prisoners between Yemen’s regions and Saudi Arabia via various airports.

High-profile figures, including Nasser Mansour Hadi, the brother of former Yemeni president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and Mahmoud Al Subeihi, the country’s former defense minister, were among those who were freed.

The prisoner swap comes as part of ongoing efforts aimed at building trust between the Yemeni government and the Houthi militia, who have been engaged in a brutal internal conflict since late 2014.

It is also widely regarded as a vital milestone in preparing a favorable environment and showcasing mutual commitment from both parties to actively participate in forthcoming peace negotiations with the ultimate aim of achieving permanent peace.

Following the successful exchange of prisoners between the Yemeni government and the Houthi militia, local observers said that the move has ignited a glimmer of optimism for further deals that could potentially lead to the release of all those held in captivity.

Yemen has been embroiled in a years-long military conflict after the Houthi militia, backed by Iran, took control of several northern cities and ousted the Saudi-backed Yemeni government from the capital, Sanaa in 2014.

The ongoing conflict has resulted in a staggering number of casualties and has pushed the Arab world’s poorest country into a humanitarian crisis, including widespread famine.

The Global South Is Done Waiting for the UN to Solve Humanity’s Challenges

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Dag Hammarskjöld, the tragic second United Nations secretary general, once said the organization “was created not to lead mankind to heaven but to save humanity from hell.”

Of course, this depends very much on what kind of hell you had in mind.

The fallout from Adolf Hitler’s extermination camps must have dominated Hammarskjöld’s world during his tenure from 1953 until his sad death in a plane crash in 1961. So must have the shadow of possible nuclear annihilation arising from the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

What he may have been able to say, even back then, is that the U.S. saw itself as the predominant world power, prepared to unleash its own version of hell whenever and however it wanted.

Hammarskjöld must have known that the UN was completely powerless to reign in the U.S. and it could, and usually did, do pretty much anything that it wanted on the world stage.

The UN is, and has been for some time, a pretty meaningless institution that merely acts as a useful idiot when the White House decides it has some role to perform in protecting U.S. interests.

The proxy war being conducted by the U.S. against Russia in Ukraine and the ramping up of tensions against China with no meaningful sign of life from the UN to stop what’s happening is a clear example.

The UN, based in the belly of the beast itself in New York, is a body devoid of any worthwhile criticism of the U.S.

The fact that for the last 30 consecutive years, the vast majority of countries at the UN General Assembly have demanded the lifting of the illegal embargo by the U.S. on Cuba is completely ignored. But every country is expected by the U.S. to follow its instruction to sanction Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

In 2003 Colin Powell told the UN Security Council, supposedly the organization’s key body, that the U.S. had evidence that Iraq had clear weapons of mass destruction and this was a justification for going to war.

Of course, President George W. Bush was going to invade Iraq anyway but the White House clearly felt it was important to send their top diplomat to the UN to tell what everyone in their administration knew to be a lie to get international support for their misadventure.

Even the U.S. Congress found that the administration had lied but at the UN there has been a deafening silence about any sanction against the U.S. for lying to the world so it could kill hundreds of thousands of people in the name of regime change.

While China and Brazil appear to be making efforts to bring about peace in Ukraine, there are no meaningful peace moves from the UN.

It took the Chinese to bring Saudi Arabia and Iran together to broker a deal that looks as though it might bring about peace in the nearly nine-year-old conflict in Yemen. The UN failed.

Just this week the U.S. tried unconvincingly to insist that after originally bringing the Saudis and the Iranians together the Chinese had done nothing to bring about peace in Yemen.

That, apparently, was done by a junior official from the U.S. State Department making a phone call to the Saudis.

One can only presume that the UN knows that the U.S. and the military-industrial complex it administers are deeply woven into both conflicts, making any attempt to go against its will futile.

There seems little chance that the US will ever have to face the music even when its wrongdoing is universally acknowledged.

When, in 2010, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks demonstrated clear breaches of international law through leaks provided by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, there was never the remotest chance that the U.S. would be held to account.

For the U.S., this was in fact a signal to go after Manning and Assange rather than be held accountable.

Its diplomats even had the gall to walk out of a UN meeting recently when a Russian representative, accused of war and human rights violations alongside President Vladimir Putin, began to speak.

The UN is reduced to being a mere conference organizer on important issues such as the climate emergency, water, and a range of other issues.

The fact that these conferences take place is important. But there are rarely real outcomes that make any difference from the marathon “negotiation” sessions that are usually highlighted from these conferences.

When observers believe that there are real outcomes, the reality is that the UN has no teeth or desire to hold the most difficult nations, such as the US, to account for anything they choose to do or not do as a result of the conference.

I am not arguing that bringing all the nations of the world together under one roof to debate the challenges facing the planet is not important. Far from it—it is vital. But it is only important if the organization has the teeth to hold everyone equally to account.

This has led countries of the Global South to look for new ways to do business.

Within the UN system, for example, the African Union is demanding permanent representation on the Security Council. It will likely achieve that as the scramble for influence over the still abundant natural resources of the continent continues.

But many countries of the Global South are now seeing much more value in creating structures that take their interests into account—not just as pawns of the U.S.

The BRICS alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa is attracting major interest from other countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The BRICS nations are also set to trade among themselves in their own currencies as a prelude to developing their own common currency for the Global South. This will smash the dominance of the dollar over the vast majority of the world’s population.

The message for the UN is that you can be relevant to the Global South or you can sit in your rocking chair smoking your pipe, chatting about the good old days with the U.S. while large swathes of the global population go about their business to make a real difference to their people.

This article was produced by Globetrotter

Water Matters: Understanding the Significance of the UN Water Conference

The 2023 UN Water Conference, co-hosted by the Netherlands and Tajikistan, will be held at the UN headquarters in New York from March 22 to 24.

In nearly 50 years, this is the first such conference on water at a time when 3.6 billion people lack enough water for at least one month each year, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

There are 8 billion people on Earth today, and water demand is skyrocketing since the first UN Water Conference was held in Argentina in 1977. The UN 2023 Water Conference is, as the UN says, “the most important water event in a generation.”

This is also the halfway point of the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development,” adopted by the UN General Assembly on World Water Day, March 22, 2018.

With a lot of efforts, the United Nations is hoping that the UN Water Conference in 2023 will mark “a watershed moment” in the pursuit of UN Sustainable Development Goal 6: ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

High hopes are placed on the upcoming conference, which will feature high-level, ministerial, multi-stakeholder, and youth events.

The United Nations hopes the meeting could support game-changing solutions for the multifaceted crises of “too much water,” such as storms and floods; “too little water,” such as droughts and water scarcity; and “too dirty water,” such as polluted water.

Among the UN’s goals for the conference are to review and assess the progresses and challenges relating to the implementation of the decade’s objectives, namely those contained in “The United Nations Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Sustainable Development’ (2018-2028).”

The United Nations says that the conference will also mobilize political will, financial resources, and partnerships to accelerate action on water-related issues and contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 as well as other related goals by 2030.

“Without water, there is no life. Water is fundamental to our daily lives and has direct linkages with health, climate, economic development and so on,” Yoka Brandt, permanent representative of the Netherlands to the United Nations, said in February.

“We need a Paris moment for water,” she underscored.

“Our global water system is in crisis. Despite safe water and sanitation being a human right, billions of people lack access to these essentials for life,” according to the United Nations.

Observers believe that the relationship between water and climate change deserves a great deal of attention, which makes the conference even more attracting.

According to the United Nations, climate change affects the water cycle by changing the patterns and intensity of precipitation, melting glaciers and ice caps, increasing evaporation and sea level rise, and altering river flows and groundwater recharge.

These impacts can make water more scarce, unpredictable, polluted or all three. This can threaten sustainable development, biodiversity, human health and well-being, food security, energy production and peace.

At the coming conference, the United Nations is expected to adopt an outcome document that will provide guidance and recommendations for further action on water-related issues at all levels.

UN Human Rights Committee to review Sri Lanka

The UN Human Rights Committee will hold its upcoming session from 27 February to 24 March, during which it will review Egypt, Turkmenistan, Zambia, Peru, Sri Lanka and Panama.

The six parties are among the 173 members of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They are required to undergo regular reviews by the Committee of 18 independent international experts on how they are implementing the Covenant as well as the Committee’s previous recommendations.

The Human Rights Committee, which has received the respective country reports and other submissions from non-governmental organisations, will discuss a range of issues with the six delegations through public dialogues, the statement issued by the UN asserted.

Nord Stream explosion is Act Global Terrorism

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An investigation by the UN Security Council into the explosions that blew up the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines in September 2022 is a high global priority, said Jeffrey Sachs, a world-renowned economist, on Tuesday.

“The destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines on Sept. 26, 2022, constitutes an act of international terrorism and represents a threat to the peace,” Sachs told the Security Council in a briefing.

“It is the responsibility of the UN Security Council to take up the question of who might have carried out the act in order to bring the perpetrator to international justice, to pursue compensation for the damage parties, and to prevent future such actions,” he said.

The consequences of the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines that linked Russia and Germany are enormous. They include not only the vast economic losses related to the pipelines themselves and their future potential use, but also the heightened threat to transboundary infrastructure of all kinds — submarine internet cables, international pipelines for gas and hydrogen, transboundary power transmission, offshore wind farms and more, said Sachs, who is the director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

“The global transformation to green energy will require considerable transboundary infrastructure, including in international waters. Countries need to have full confidence that their infrastructure will not be destroyed by third parties. Some European countries have recently expressed concern over the safety of their offshore infrastructure,” he noted.

There is only one detailed account to date of the Nord Stream destruction — the one recently put forward by U.S. investigative journalist Seymour Hersh ostensibly based on information leaked to Hersh by an unnamed source, said Sachs.

Hersh attributes the Nord Stream destruction to a decision ordered by U.S. President Joe Biden and carried out by U.S. agents in a covert operation. The White House has described Hersh’s account as “completely and utterly false,” but did not offer any information contradicting Hersh’s account, and did not offer any alternative explanation, he said.

Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and some other senior U.S. officials made statements before and after the Nord Stream destruction that showed the U.S. animus toward the pipelines, he noted.

The destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines required a very high degree of planning, expertise, and technological capacity, he said, adding that as a number of senior officials have publicly confirmed, an action of this sort must have been carried out by a state-level actor.

Only a handful of state-level actors have both the technical capacity and access to the Baltic Sea to have carried out this action. They include the United States, Russia, Britain, Poland, Norway, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden — either individually or in some combination.

A recent report by The Washington Post revealed that the intelligence agencies of NATO countries have privately concluded that there is no evidence whatsoever that Russia carried out this action. It is also in concord with the fact that Russia had no obvious motive to carry out this act of terrorism on its own critical infrastructure. Indeed, Russia is likely to bear considerable expenses to repair the pipelines, said Sachs.

Three countries have reportedly carried out investigations of the Nord Stream terrorism — Denmark, Germany, and Sweden. These countries presumably know much more about the circumstances of the terrorist attack. Sweden, in particular, has perhaps the most to tell the world about the crime scene, which its divers investigated. Yet instead of sharing this information globally, Sweden has kept the results of its investigation secret from the rest of the world. Sweden has refused to share its findings with Russia and turned down a joint investigation with Denmark and Germany, he said.

“In the interests of global peace, the UN Security Council should require these countries to immediately turn over the results of their investigations to the UN Security Council,” Sachs said.

– Xinhua 

China Urges Sri Lanka to Avoid Default: A Cautionary Tale

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by Our Diplomatic Affairs Editor

It is well known that Sri Lanka is currently facing a significant debt crisis, with one of its major creditors being China. As such, the recent visit by highly placed delegates from China to Sri Lanka during the tenure of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa came as no surprise. What was surprising, however, was the strict suggestion made by the Chinese delegation for Sri Lanka not to declare default.

According to reliable sources with knowledge of the issue, China strongly believed that Sri Lanka would lose its grip irreversibly if the country declared default. Furthermore, they warned that such a move would have a series of bad impacts on the country’s future. Despite China’s warning, the Rajapaksa government decided to stand with India and the USA.

India and the USA had promised not only to strengthen cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but also to protect Gotabaya Rajapaksa under any circumstances, reliable sources said. However, “at the last moment, none of those countries came to help Rajapaksa to protect his presidency. Instead, they manoeuvred political scenarios to mark his exit while defaming his political career,” the sources added.

The cautionary tale here is that countries like Sri Lanka should exercise caution when dealing with foreign powers. In particular, the country should not rely too heavily on one country or group of countries, as this can lead to a dangerous dependence.

China’s warning to Sri Lanka not to declare default is a timely reminder of the importance of foreign relations. While it is important for countries to seek out economic opportunities, it is equally important to ensure that they maintain their independence and protect their national interests. Sri Lanka’s experience should serve as a cautionary tale to other countries that may be tempted to rely too heavily on foreign powers.

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