Bangladesh has emerged victorious in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) council election 2023 in category C, securing 128 votes out of the 175-member council. This marks the first time Bangladesh has won in the highly competitive category C of the IMO, as reported by the Bangladesh mission in London.
Following the election results, Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK and Permanent Representative to the IMO, Saida Muna Tasneem, expressed gratitude to IMO members for electing Bangladesh as a Council member. She reiterated Bangladesh’s commitment to the IMO’s charter of actions for dealing with maritime affairs. Tasneem extended thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Shipping in Bangladesh, specifically acknowledging Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her decision to participate in the IMO council election in 2023.
“Bangladesh’s election to the International Maritime Organisation’s elite 40-member council is a testimony of the confidence and trust that the IMO member states and the International Maritime Community place in Bangladesh’s leadership as a maritime nation, led by the prudent leadership of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” stated the Bangladesh envoy.
Previously, Tasneem was elected by consensus as the Vice President of the 33rd assembly of the IMO during which the election took place.
The IMO, as the only UN specialized body, regulates global shipping standards that impact ship-operating flag states, seafarers, and maritime safety, security, and marine pollution.
Bangladesh, heavily reliant on international trade, with 90 percent conducted via the sea, aims to address key issues such as the transition of maritime ports into green and digitalized entities and compliance with the Hong Kong convention on ship recycling and the use of greener fuels. These matters will be on Dhaka’s negotiation agenda at the IMO council during the term 2024-25.
Bangladesh Delegation Eyes WTO MC13 to Safeguard Developing Nations’ Interests
The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is scheduled to take place from February 26 to 29, 2024, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ministers from around the world will gather to assess the performance of the multilateral trading system and address the future agenda of the WTO. A delegation from Bangladesh, led by State Minister for Commerce Ahsanul Islam Titu, comprising eight members, will participate in the conference.
This edition of the ministerial conference holds particular significance for Bangladesh as the country is set to transition from a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a developing nation by 2026. Typically held every two years, the conference will focus on critical global issues, including subsidies in agriculture and fisheries, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, and global food security.
Senior Secretary of the Commerce Ministry, Tapan Kanti Ghosh, expressed Bangladesh’s commitment to safeguarding the interests of LDCs and other developing nations. While not highlighting specific issues for Bangladesh, he emphasized the country’s desire to maintain duty-free market access, intellectual property rights, and other trade facilities during the post-LDC graduation period.
Tapan highlighted Bangladesh’s advocacy for the continuation of technical facilities, such as training programs for officials and dispute settlement mechanisms, even beyond the LDC graduation. He affirmed that Bangladesh would play a robust role in these discussions. Additionally, he underscored Bangladesh’s priority on providing subsidies in the fisheries sector during the post-LDC graduation period.
Saudi Imposes Tk15 lakh Fine for Unauthorized Hajj Performances
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia has declared a fine of SR50,000 (equivalent to Tk15 lakh) for individuals, whether tourists or local residents, who perform Hajj without official permission. According to Gulf News, the ministry emphasized the illegality of undertaking Hajj without the necessary approvals. Additionally, hefty fines of up to Tk15 lakh will be imposed on those found transporting Hajj pilgrims without the required documents.
Furthermore, the ministry outlined severe consequences for foreigners involved in such violations, including a six-month imprisonment and subsequent deportation from Saudi Arabia. Those deported will also face a 10-year ban on reentering the country. This stringent announcement aims to ensure the proper implementation of the Hajj process and deter any potential breaches of laws and regulations.
The penalties will be enforced through collaboration between the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports.
UN Commemorates International Mother Language Day
The International Mother Language Day was commemorated at the UN headquarters for the 8th consecutive year, organized jointly by the Permanent Missions of Bangladesh, Austria, Bahrain, Bolivia, Romania, and South Africa in collaboration with the UN Secretariat and UNESCO. Dennis Francis, President of the UN General Assembly, attended as the chief guest. The event included a multilingual discussion and cultural performances.
Ambassador Muhammad Abdul Muhith, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN, paid homage to language martyrs and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He acknowledged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s role in UNESCO’s recognition of February 21 as the international mother language day and reiterated her call to make Bangla an official UN language. The importance of mother tongue-based education for quality and inclusive learning was emphasized.
The President of the UN General Assembly and other speakers appreciated Bangladesh’s leadership in celebrating the day, recognizing its role in proclaiming a day dedicated to mother languages. They highlighted the significance of mother tongue-based multilingual education for continuous learning and development. The event, attended by ambassadors, diplomats, UN officials, civil society, and the Bangladeshi community, featured interpretation in Bangla, Hindi, and Romanian. Cultural presentations included the theme song ‘Amar Bhai-er Rokte Rangano Ekushe February’ by the UN Chamber Music Society.
In the morning, the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh observed Martyrs Day and International Mother Language Day with solemnity. Wreaths were laid at the Shaheed Minar, and messages from the President, Prime Minister, and Foreign Minister were read out by mission officials.
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