Covid-19 has exposed the UN system’s loopholes alongside national inadequacies
Asia's rising nations, including Bangladesh, need to be focused on for the United Nations (UN) to democratise.
Academics, development practitioners and diplomats said this on Thursday at the webinar "The UN in Time of People's Needs: Rethinking Multilateralism."
North South University's (NSU) Center for Peace Studies and UN Bangladesh organised the two-day programme.
Referring to Bangladesh's development performance, European Union Ambassador to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink said the country is already a model.
The speakers also said civil society organisations and the corporate sector should be incorporated in the process of the ongoing transformation of the UN to make sure that communities, rather than nation-states alone, are served.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the UN system's loopholes alongside national inadequacies, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said.
He also expressed Dhaka's frustration at the UN's failure to ensure the repatriation of the Rohingya people to Myanmar.
The government will raise this issue and focus on post-Covid-19 assistance for Bangladesh, too, the foreign secretary said.
The diplomat who was also posted at the UN headquarters acknowledged that the increasing involvement of civil society organisations in the UN system is irreversible.
However, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo said civil society's voices will only be accommodated at the UN if civic space exists within member states.
Observer Research Foundation President Dr Samir Saran said new champions in "young" Asia will have to bear the "old" UN and ensure democratisation.
"Apart from China and India, Bangladesh has a strong role to play. And the future of the UN will be resolved in Asia," he said.
"Asian nations could come up with ideas and hopes for future multilateralism. The UN has to serve the communities instead of serving the nation-states," Samir observed.
Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of international relations at the University of Dhaka, said the geopolitics that led to the creation of the UN after 1945 are no longer there. "Democracy, which was also functioning across the world, is on the decline."
So, the focus should be on accommodating persons instead of following an approach to replace Europe and America with Asia, he said.
NSU Vice-Chancellor Professor Atiqul Islam also underlined the importance of the democratisation of the UN, saying that the authority to take decision should be vested with the UN General Assembly.