For the fourth time after four and a half years, Bangladesh will respond to the various questions and comments of the member states in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Political violence centered around elections, freedom of assembly, arbitrary arrests, freedom of expression, civil rights including labor rights are expected to dominate this year’s UPR.
The government has an idea about the position of different countries and what they can say about the human rights situation in Bangladesh. In this regard, the position of some countries such as United Kingdom, United States, Denmark, Zambia is somewhat negative regarding Bangladesh. While other countries make various negative questions or comments or recommendations on the subject, they also highlight the positive aspects of Bangladesh.
Countries that make negative comments naturally need more attention, experts say, so that they don’t take a hard line.
In the previous three UPRs, various countries have repeatedly recommended the following issues: rights to life and security, freedom of expression and media, strengthening the National Human Rights Commission, increasing cooperation with the United Nations human rights system, preventing and remedying violence against women and children and Ensuring occupational safety of workers.
An official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, ‘In the third UPR of 2018, 105 countries spoke about Bangladesh. Among them, about 100 countries used various positive words including welcome, commend, recognized in their speech. On the other hand, a handful of countries did not use positive words in their statement.
It should be noted that in the last UPR, the United Kingdom mentioned the issue of extrajudicial killings and disappearances, freedom of expression and religion. The United States has targeted opposition parties, citing freedom of expression and assembly, as well as human rights abuses by security forces and calling for fair elections.
Zambia expressed concern about the human rights situation in Bangladesh. Denmark, on the other hand, expresses concern about child marriage.
Bangladesh will be discussed at the UPR on Monday (November 13) from 2 pm to 3.30 pm local time in Geneva.
What will be important this time?
Current affairs in UPR gain more importance. Currently in Bangladesh political violence, labor movement, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression – these issues are getting more importance.
In this regard, a former diplomat said, ‘The situation of disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh has improved a lot in the last four years. Hopefully, there will be fewer questions about this. Because Bangladesh has a good answer for this.’
On the other hand, some powerful countries have made statements or comments on issues like political violence, labor movement, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression. Hopefully, they will bring it up again in the UPR mechanism.
The politics of the UPR
The UPR is the only mechanism in the United Nations where a state makes direct comments or recommendations on the human rights situation of another state. That is why the matter is highly political, bilateral relations and other interests play a major role here.
A former diplomat well-versed in the UPR says, “Before the talks start, various countries are contacted to try to get an idea of their attitude and what kind of recommendations they can make to a ‘friendly country like Bangladesh’.” .”
Another former diplomat said, ‘Many countries for whom Bangladesh is not so important, if Bangladeshi diplomats have good relations with their diplomats, they come and say – write down what to say. We say But Bangladesh also speaks well during the UPR of those countries.’
Who are the players of UPR?
Basically member states explain their human rights situation in this forum. Besides, civil society and NGO representatives and in many cases opposition political parties also try to influence the UPR.
A former diplomat said that different countries explain their position here. Apart from this, representatives of the civil society of that country also have a strong role here.
Besides, opposition political parties also try to exert their international influence and try to communicate with various foreign diplomats or others to embarrass the government, he said.